In the last few weeks, the leadership of Youth Party has been inundated with concerns about the Party’s direction and future, given the current happenings. As critical stakeholders of the Party and genuine believers in the possibility of a new Nigeria, the issues raised must be addressed comprehensively.
To start with, Youth Party remains a functioning political party duly recognized by law. To date, every organ of the Party has continued to function, carrying out its roles and responsibilities as the Party’s constitution dictates. However, there have been grave challenges that have grossly impacted the Party’s capacity to function optimally.
As you know, despite a Court of Appeal judgment declaring the deregistration of the Party illegal and unlawful, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), led by Professor Mahmood Yakubu, is deliberately and unconstitutionally excluding the Youth Party from participating in the 2023 General Elections. Sadly, INEC has become notorious for flagrantly disobeying court judgments, especially concerning the Youth Party.
In 2017, INEC refused to register the Youth Party after meeting every constitutionally laid down criterion. It took a court order of the Federal High Court Abuja, to compel INEC to respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and register the Youth Party. Shockingly, it took INEC 8 months to obey the said order of the Federal High Court, only choosing to register Youth Party one week before the official date earmarked for party primaries. But INEC did not stop there!
Shortly after the 2019 General Election, the leadership of the Party had concerns that INEC was going to deregister the Party, despite deliberately sabotaging Youth Party’s efforts in preparing for the 2019 General Elections. Consequently, Youth Party filed a suit against INEC at the Federal High Court Abuja. During the pendency of the Suit, INEC unilaterally decided to deregister Youth Party for non-performance in the 2019 general elections.
Thankfully, the Federal High Court delivered its Judgement in favour of Youth Party and declared the INEC’s action as illegal. INEC appealed the decision of the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal (in a unanimous decision) also declared INEC’s action of deregitering Youth Party as illegal and unlawful.
Unfortunately, INEC has thus far refused to comply with the judgements of both the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, and has now appealed to the Supreme Court.
The matter came up at the Supreme Court on 27th of September 2022, and the Supreme Court will decide on the 2nd of December 2022.
It will suffice to state that before the eyes of the law, our great party is eligible to contest any election across the country in the absence of any order of court to the contrary.
Where are we now?
While we await the Supreme Court’s decision slated for the 2nd of December 2022, Youth Party will continue to support its two candidates; Mrs. Victoria Oluchi Farley-Bradford, Gubernatorial candidate for Abia state, and Mrs. Tari Taylaur, House of Assembly candidate Eti-Osa 1, Lagos state in the 2023 General Elections. Other party activities will continue, particularly our role as a deliberate opposition party. We are confident that just as the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal have ruled in favour of Youth Party, the Supreme Court will deliver the long-awaited justice on this matter.
The challenges notwithstanding, we must continue to demand the expansion of Nigeria’s political space and not allow greedy political elites to shrink it. If we allow a situation where only a particular political class dominates our political system, we will inadvertently surrender ourselves to political homogeneity that favors order over diversity. We will be beating a retreat to an authoritarian disposition, where, as the behavioral economist, Karen Stenner, puts it, the ruling class becomes intolerant of complexity or libertarian ideals, which is the engine that drives democratic systems.
Nothing is more authoritarian and undemocratic than a systematic suppression of a people’s desires, realities, and aspirations. Nevertheless, we will continue to fight this grave injustice for future generations unborn. Youth Party’s slogan and commitment is to “Shape The Future”. We will not relent!