The young generation of technocrats swarming the political space is a development long overdue. The decision of these optimistic young men to take the political bulls by the horn is something we never envisaged would happen quite soon. It has been spoken about in various platforms, but there had not been strong indicators that suggest a quick formation of a party. This development is an indication of the ever- evolving democratic system in Nigeria. It is a true reflection of the people’s dissatisfaction with prevailing norms in existing political parties and governance across all levels. It goes to show that Nigerians are over burdened with the abysmal performance of the political parties that had been in the helm of affairs since 1999. What is more appalling for the masses have been the unchanging players in the political scene and the aging political players who are obviously not in touch with realities of the 21st century.
Against this backdrop, Nigerians, most especially the youths have been emboldened and buoyed to organize a political party that reflects fresh ideas; fresh ideas capable of addressing the myriad of problems facing the country. This movement started with the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign in 2016. The campaign seeks to reduce the age limit for running for elected offices in Nigeria. The campaign which started in support of the bills and motions in the Nigeria’s national assembly sponsored by Hon. Tony Nwulu, has so far led to the acceptance of the bill by over two-third of the states in the country.
No doubt this precedence had set the stage for the emergence of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) party. A party whose members are predominantly young Nigerians affecting the social and business space. This party prides herself as one that is devoid of god-fatherism and the ills of federal character. It promises to promote a level playing ground for young Nigerians to aspire to any political position. Her mission is to make Nigeria a truly great country by harnessing its human and abundant natural resources, through massive investments in education, innovation and technology, respect for human rights and human security, while promoting a united country loved at home and respected abroad. One must admit that this is a lofty mission that is achievable through unwavering dedication. However, the true test of the spirit of these letters would be in the field come 2019 election.
With the 2019 election around the corner, it is good we have a proper diagnosis of the chances of ANN. We must admit that ANN is a movement of young Nigerians with the best of education home and abroad; who are impacting the business space, who are social media savvy, who are role models to millions of youths and in the past have led inclusive movements in the country. This party constitute men with integrity, whose claim is to make Nigeria great again. However, they must bear in mind that existing parties have formidable grass-root structures; and elections are won at the grass-root level. Although, ANN might have a very good manifesto and perhaps the expertise to drive the required change in the country. However, they will have to develop the strategy needed to engage core electorates like the market women and young illiterates that often time form the majority that vote. It is appealing to have an increasing diaspora support, but the party must not be carried away by the euphoria of this, until the Senator Murray Bruce’s bill on the eligibility of diasporas to vote become a reality. In addition, the party must put forward credible aspirants for all political positions; it must create a dynamic internal system that stymies schisms within the party; and most importantly, a system that captures the country’s differences.
Nigerians have waited for an alternative to parties like the People Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) that have dominated the space. The emergence of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) seems to resonate with youths across the country; this is because the party represents the voice of over 64 million youths in the country and may serve as a template from the most populous black country on earth to other African countries. The success of ANN will definitely become a reference point for political discuss across countries. Hence, the buck stops on their desk to get it right. The party might not make a huge impact in the 2019 election. However, the 2019 election will be a test of the values and guiding principles of the party: as one that values equity, justice, integrity and excellence. We can only hope that when they are tested, they will not be found wanting.
Writer: Samuel Edet (PhD student, IMT Italy).