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Beating the odds recounts stories of new young officeholders in Nigeria

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The organisation led by 2019 Tutu Fellow Samson Itodo has published a book about the impact of young legislators who are, in the words on the cover, "changing the face of politics in Nigeria". Beating the Odds is a compilation of powerful stories of young people - especially the beneficiaries of the Not Too Young To Run law - who ran for public office and won seats in the National and State legislature in the 2019 general election in Nigeria.

Samson is the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, a community of change makers focused on building sustainable democracies in Africa, anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, accountability and constitutionalism. He was also the convener of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement that led the successful advocacy for the reduction of age limits for running for public office in the Nigerian constitution.

The young legislators featured in the book represent the new faces of parliamentary democracy and public leadership in Africa’s most populous nation. In sixteen chapters, YIAGA Africa provides an insight on the challenges of navigating Nigeria’s highly commercialized, discriminatory and competitive electoral process. The political journey of the young women and men in book is an inspiration to young Africans aspiring to transform their communities through public leadership.

Samson says the journeys in the stories in the book are replete with many setbacks: the broken promises of party bigwigs, betrayals by confidants, negative perceptions by the 'elderly' and unreasonable demands on contestants from various sources. "In some cases, although popular, the candidates had to leave one party for another because of the undemocratic tendencies that characterize the processes of choosing party candidates. Female candidates had to deal not only with resource constraints, entrenched patriarchal values, and beliefs, but also unwanted sexual advances, harassment, and blackmail. The candidates also had to contend with rumor mongering, well-orchestrated calumny campaigns, threats, and attempts of physical harm to them and members of their families and ruinous financial 'requirements' for party primaries and campaigns."

Aside from the stories told in Beating the Odds, the book also provides an array of practical tips on the fundamentals of political campaigning and civic activism. This is the second edition of the book, with a whole series of new stories. If you're interested in obtaining a copy of the book, email YIAGA Africa for a copy.

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Friday, 23 July 2021

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