Ndi Kato: 5 challenges youths face as first-timers in Nigerian politics

NewsroomOctober 28, 20185 min

In this encounter with Titilope Fadare, Ndi Kato, a gender activist and politician, shares her experience in politics and offers 5 tips worth considering by young people looking to enter the fray. 

ndi kato campaign poster

Are you thinking of venturing into politics as a youth obviously not in 2019 but in 2023? Just before you buy your nomination and expression of interest form, there are five likely challenges you might encounter as a greenhorn.

Ndi Kato is a first-timer in Politics who ran under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for Jema’a local government into the Kaduna State House of Assembly but lost out in the recently concluded primaries.

In an interview with OrderPaper Nigeria, she narrated her hurdles.

  1. Ms. Kato first touched on the factor of age.

She describes Nigerian politics as “patronage”, which only rewards an individual once they have hung around for a long time.

According to her, there are those who have been in the system for a long time but still live in the shadows of “godfathers” while waiting for the right time before they get endorsed for a particular elective office. And while they are at that, they resolve to “milking” system.

She explained: “Your age will work against you. For those of us young people who come, someone has been in the system since 1999, waiting for his turn in that position that is going to battle you. They ask you, ‘Where are you coming from? I have been here since 1999. You have so many years ahead of you, And I ask myself, ‘you are still here and still hanging on for the patronage?”

  1. Another aspect you need to consider is finances, which Kato depicted as no joke due to its extravagant nature.

Her words: “Money, Let’s not forget it. It is very expensive. You talk about this thing on social media, and people think that it is a joke. Before I knew it, I had blown through 4M. You spend a lot. Let’s break down this spending. People don’t understand it from outside and I hope that this interview will really take it.

“How do I start? Ok! When you arrive in the village, you go to greet whoever, you have to drop money. You are not dropping that money as a bribe. Any house you are going to greet, you are going with something. Anybody that comes to you to talk to you, you have to do thank you for coming. That is the culture of politics in Nigeria. It is wild; I cannot even imagine. Nobody prepares you for it, and you have to go through that.”

She resorted to seeking donations, which her counterparts were afraid of doing.

  1. The above challenges have been generic; now let’s come to gender. The push for female inclusion in Nigerian politics has been all-time low. With this in mind, Kato recounted how she was ridiculed when she went to her state for primaries and told that she won’t win.

She said: “Your gender, of course. They say, ‘You have come, you are so cute. Thank God you have finally come. We have never had a woman run for office. Come and join. Don’t worry, you will not get it, but we will give you an appointment, and you will win. It is so much, but then it opens your eyes to the reality of things. In this journey of power, you get to learn, you learn how to manage people. It is very difficult.”

  1. Expounding on finances, there’s the delegate system, which she describes as “wild.”

“People pay through their teeth. The delegate system is pretty difficult. A few people get to choose for the large group before you present the candidate to the larger group. Wow! It is capital intensive. People pay as much as N50,000 per delegate for the state House of Assembly. My local government has one constituency, 137 delegates. Imagine if you have to pay all of them N50,000 each.”

  1. Finally, penetration into large systems or political parties such as the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as a first-timer could be daunting.

Kato said: “But it is quite difficult in the larger parties. For the PDP, which has existed since 1998, this party has had structures on the ground that young people have not been a part of. Let’s be very realistic: It is going to be very difficult to penetrate a party like the PDP or even the APC. A lot of young people have noticed, you got tickets, got it in places like SDP, ANN, ADD and others.”

Editor’s Note: This interview with Ndi Kato should not be viewed as a discouragement but as a way to help one prepare for the journey in Nigerian politics by scaling through these hurdles.


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