The Parliament Diary





Azeezat Yishawu is a Medical Doctor and a Former Member of the Lagos State Youth Parliament with over 6 years active experience in grassroots mobilization, citizen engagement and stakeholder management. She was the First Female Speaker of the Lagos State University Medical Student Association Senate. She has worked in several NGOs including Involve Africa and Constitution Lab., to

advance democracy and human rights.

A Carrington Youth Alumnae, and a Fellow at the USA International Visitor Leadership Program and the Young Women Political Leadership School, Miss Azeezat Yishawu is an advocate for Good Governance and an expert at galvanizing resources for quality political leadership- especially for young people. She works on impactful projects and champions frontline conversations on the mentioned focal areas.

She is the Founder, Ethics and Political Leadership Foundation- an NGO committed to driving effective democracy, and good governance in Nigeria. She is also co-founder, ConstitutionLab- a youth led organization committed to providing Nigerians with working knowledge of the Nigeria Constitution.

She was adjudged the winner in the last election for the Speakership position of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, but the election was marred by controversy. In this interview granted months ago, she bared her mind on some of the issues that took her contender and herself to court.

What motivated you to contest in the election for the position of Speaker of the Nigerian Youth Parliament?

I have a passion to serve. As an advocate of Inclusive Governance I have for long committed my time and resources in the service of especially youths and women. I’m from a family that is versed in politics; that believes governance can be done rightly; and that good leadership is the key. Right from my primary school days, where I was head of my class, as assistant class rep and as head girl at the secondary level; and thereafter becoming the first female speaker in my university senate. I have always presented myself for leadership whenever the opportunity comes up; and I’m not one to give up or be fazed by any difficulty.

People are still alleging that you conspired with the powers that be to win the NYP election.

This rumor is false and unnecessary. In every election there must be a winner and a loser; in our politics, it’s not a new scenario that losers present with resentment; they often play the aggrieved. However, what I do not expect from us the young class is a decline to defaming the character.

I said it and repeat: that claim cannot be sustained. Firstly, the election of Presiding officers of the NYP is guided by (i) The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (ii) The Electoral Act (iii) The Standing orders of Parliament.

Secondly, the election was conducted, in a free and fair manner by the Electoral Body that was charged with that responsibility and headed by the Clerk of NYP. The election was conducted in the clear view of participants. Present were Independent Observers, Ministry Officials, the Press, and other stakeholders.

Thirdly, the rules guiding the process of the election were clearly spelt out by the Coordinator of the Parliament during our mock sitting. So, it’s ridiculous for any contestant to point the finger, that I conspired with someone or some officials, and therefore I scuttled the election. It is not in our character. We maintain good sportsmanship and at all times and uphold the NYP ideals. Our goal is to foster alliances among youths, not break the links or the good relationships between the responsive Nigerian Youth Parliament. It is not in our character.  

Back to the issues regarding the election; I am specifically going to rely on the plain and ordinary meaning of “Standing Order”, particularly relating to election of Presiding Officer. Section 3 (1)(e) is abundantly clear on what should be done if two contestants are nominated. In our own case, more than two (2) contestants were nominated, which automatically activated the provisions of Section 3(1)(f). And, Section 3(1) (f) provides that, “When more than two are nominated and seconded as Speaker of the Parliament, the division shall be conducted in manners prescribed in Subsection (1)(e) and the Speaker-Elect who has received a majority of votes shall be the Speaker of the Parliament. In the event of none having received a majority of votes in the division, the candidate having the smallest number of votes shall be excluded from further divisions. A further division shall take place”.

We had 99 members of the Parliament. Seven of us were nominated for the position of Speaker of the Parliament with the following votes: Oyelami John 32 (Oyo state); Azeezat Yishawu (30 Lagos state); Onah Joseph 13 (Enugu state); Mubarak Salisu 9 (Ogun state); Solomon Bigbo 8 (Bayelsa state); Kikiowo   Ayoade 3 (Ondo state); Sanni Kafeel 1 (Edo state); and three (3) void votes.

None of us was declared winner at the first division for the following:

  1. First, nobody scored the majority of votes in that division which would have been 50 votes
  2. Secondly, the fact that the cancelled votes (3), that is, votes that are not counted are sufficient to cause a change in the outcome of the election. The difference between the said agitator and my self was 2 votes.

Therefore, a re-run election was declared since the margin of victory was lower than the cancelled votes. The candidates having the smallest number of votes were excluded in accordance with Section 3(1)(f). My humble self and the said contestant were slated for a rerun. A Rerun which he willingly participated in. In the Rerun, I scored 50 votes and he: 48 votes, with a 1 cancelled vote. This Re-run satisfied both conditions

  1. I have majority of vote cast, that is, 50 out of 99.
  2. The cancelled vote—just a singular vote— was not sufficient to change the 48 votes my opponent got to a win.

The records and the video clip are there for all to see. You can get copies from the Secretariat of the NYP anytime you need them. But we are doing what we can to accommodate. All that matter to us is a unified and progressive Nigerian Youth Parliament. Thank you.

What steps are you taking to reconcile with all aggrieved parties to ensure a successful reign in office?

In order for us to reconcile, right after the election, I played my own part; I placed calls to all the aspirants, and to the said person; and he responded. However, when I received the information that he had publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the election result, I again made several concerted efforts to reach him and his team, all to no avail. I’m fully ready to work with everyone for the success of this Parliament.

However, the aggrieved person by his actions after the election disobeyed the Rules of the NYP; he went acting contrarily to the Undertaking he had signed as a Nominee. As far as the NYP is concerned, before becoming a member, one must take an oath. Yet, this individual is yet to take the oath. So the decision lies with the Secretariat of the Parliament— not myself.

How do you rate the performances of Previous Speakers of the NYP, and what do you intend to do differently if this matter eventually turns out in your favour?

Since the inception of the NYP, there had been 5 Speakers before me, namely

  1. Hon. Luke Onofiok, the Pioneer Speaker of the NYP, Former Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and current Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary. History had placed him in the good books, and the rating of his overall performance, as the Speaker of NYP, remains high. He did his best for the youth.
  2. Hon. Abdullahi Maibasira, the second in the line of Speakers of the NYP, also did his best and went on to become the National Organising Secretary of the PDP.

iii. Hon. Abba Waziri, the 3rd Speaker of the NYP, performed excellently and went further to serve as SSA to his State Governor. He is now an employer of labour in the private sector.

  1. The 4th Speaker; Hon. Ayodele Obe, is also a leader in his own right and his contributions, especially the push for the Not-Too-Young-To-Run-Bill, is just wonderful. He remains an active stakeholder in the NYP.
  2. My immediate predecessor, Hon. Mubarak Mijinyawa, is a very busy man now representing the Youth at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. He too did his best, especially his drive for the creation of the National Youth Development Commission, which is still in the pipeline.

It is my honest opinion that the Past Speakers all contributed immensely to the development of the NYP and the Nigerian Youth. Of course the zeal of the past and the present Secretariat of the NYP, always headed by the Clerk, had also been a source of pride and motivation to the youth of this country.

Question: Do you think Government has done enough to help the Youth harness their potentials for Nigeria’s economic advancement?

As a Developing Nation with a large youth population, we have to continue to do more. Government will have to continue to work, strategize, and improve the possibilities for young people in Nigeria.

People argue that most of the Bills sponsored on the Floor of the National Assembly by our Federal Lawmakers are those that are not relevant or readily impact the wellbeing of the average Nigerian citizen.  What’s your view?

That cannot be completely true. The best way to ensure that more effective Bills which can serve Nigerians across regions is for you the media to ensure that citizens at the grass root are fully informed about activities on the floors of the National Assembly. Effective reportage and coverage of activities of the legislature that is. This would close the gap between the Legislators and the Citizenry. Adequate funding must be provided for research on the effect, impact, and community response to potential Bills. The Community must be part of the solution.

How do you rate the performance of your State Governor, His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the current leadership of the 9th National Assembly?

Lagosians are excellent people with great leadership abilities.  We set the standard for the rest of the country to emulate. I particularly commend both Leaders in raising the bar for what “Representation” means in their respective office.

What’s your message to your followers and the entire stockholders in the NYP?

Move on! There is a lot to always do. So, as young people and patriotic Nigerians, the journey for a better and safer Nigerian need everyone’s participation. The Nigerian Youth Parliament of the 5th Assembly, is made of dedicated and compassionate young people who are ready to facilitate Youth Inclusion in governance and the development of the Nation.

Finally, what’s your advice to the youths especially as we approach 2023 general elections?

Simply get your bargaining power. Be ready to vote!

About Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *