2019 Tutu Fellow Samson Itodo says that the Not Too Young to Run movement he played a key role in convening has seen historic wins in Nigeria’s 2023 Elections. He says that dissatisfication with democracy is partly because of the dominance of gerontocrats in politics and their disconnect from the experiences of most citizens.  The Not Too Young to Run movement has been working at mobilizing young people to get into politics to change this. 

Nigeria’s 2023 general election is the second general election since the passage of the Not Too Young to Run Act in 2018.  Samson says that while an analysis of the list of candidates for the 2023 election shows a small decline in youth candidacy from the 2019 general election, this election produced historic wins none the less.

First, he said, two direct beneficiaries of the Not Too Young to Run law, both under 29 years of age, won seats in the National Assembly.  Second, young female legislators recorded historic wins in legislative elections: four young female legislators under 35 won legislative seats in three state assemblies.  The youngest elected female legislator is 26 years old.  Samson said that unseating established and well-resourced incumbents and navigating months of legal battles, political intrigues, and Machiavellian politics to secure electoral wins was a welcome disruption.

He said young leaders elected to government needed sustained capacity building to help improve their knowledge of legislative practice and procedure.  That would help them to be effective within government and better serve their constituents.

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. Yiaga Africa started as a student organization in 2007, and has become Africa's front line non-profit organization that continues to promote participation in Democracy, human rights, and civics.

Read his analysis of the Nigerian elections and the young people who ran, at LinkedIn.

Cover picture: Rukayat Shittu, 26, youngest elected female legislator in Nigeria. Picture courtesy YIAGA Africa.

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About AFLI



The African Leadership Institute (AFLI) focuses on building the capacity and capability of visionary and strategic leadership across the continent. Developing exceptional leaders representing all spheres of society, the Institute’s flagship programme is the prestigious Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellowship. Offering a multifaceted learning experience and run in partnership with Oxford University, it is awarded annually to 20-25 carefully chosen candidates, nominated from across Africa. Alumni of the African Leadership Institute form a dynamic network of Fellows passionately committed to the continent’s transformation, bridging the divide between nations and ensuring that Africa is set centre-stage in global affairs.