How To Become A Senator In Nigeria: Educational Qualifications & Age Requirements For Contesting As A Senator Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria
By Our Reporter
Becoming a senator in Nigeria is something many people envy and many others would like to attain. However, not many people know the requirements for becoming a senator. They don’t even know what steps to take to get there. Trying to contest for a senatorial seat without knowing how to go about it is like driving in a car to a destination you don’t know. I would like to show you the requirements and steps to becoming a senator in Nigeria so that you will know what is expected of you.
Requirements for becoming a senator in Nigeria
You must be Nigerian born
This is an unnegotiable condition for becoming a senator. You may be a citizen through other means but forget it if you were not born here. At the same time you must not have dual citizenship. Only people with sole Nigerian citizenship are eligible to run for this office.
You must be at least 30 years old
The age limit used to be 35 years but thank God for the current senate that has reduced it to 30 so more young people can contest.
You must have a senior school certificate at least
This isn’t difficult. You only need to complete secondary education and you are qualified. Personally I think it should be higher though.
You must be registered with a political party
Constitutionally, only senatorial candidates nominated by a registered political party are recognised so you will do well to register with one if you haven’t yet.
You must not be working in the public service
Every senatorial candidate is expected to resign from the public service at least thirty days prior to election day so if you are currently working with the government, you might as well start making retirement plans ahead of 2019 elections if you want to contest.
You must be mentally sound
No law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must make confirm you to be of unsound mind.
You must not be an ex-convict
Do not panic. You are disqualified only if you have been convicted of a crime having to do with lack of honesty or fraud within ten years to Election Day.
You must not be financially embarrassed
This means you must not have been declared bankrupt at any time in your life.
Now having known the conditions for becoming a senator of the federal republic of Nigeria, let us look at the steps you need to take to become a senator, hopefully in the 2019 Elections.
- Join a political party: This is a key requirement for becoming a senator. As you have seen above, it is impossible for you to even run for the office let alone win the election so get yourself registered if you haven’t been registered with a registered political party yet. You might want to ask for advice on which party to join to increase your chance of winning. You will need a passport photograph for your membership card if your application gets approved. Registration is usually done in your ward office where you live, work or are coming from originally. You are required to pay registration fees and dues which varies depending on your party of choice.
- Register with INEC as a candidate: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is the body authorized by law to register candidates and conduct elections for public offices. Therefore now that you have secured membership of a party, the next thing is to register as a senatorial aspirant. Your party has to nominate you for this so you have to go with your members every step of the way. The requirements for registration as a senatorial aspirant and fees will be made known to you at the INEC office when you go to buy your form.
- Set up a campaign group: Campaign groups are inevitable in contesting for a political office. They coordinate things for you and make sure everything runs smoothly. Before you ever start a campaign, get people together whowillhelp you to run things because you can’t do everything yourself. Have them spread all over the local governments you represent. Effective campaign means a lot of spending so you must be ready to spend. You should have members of your campaign group in every district and ward in every local government within your constituency. This will make it easy for you when you start your campaign rally so make sure you have a strong team that will make things work for you.
- Start moving round: Once your campaign team is ready to go, the next thing is to start your campaign rally. This will involve travelling to all local government areas in your constituency. At this level things should be in place if you have a good campaign coordinator. The people must have been informed that you will be visiting and your posters should be everywhere. This is the opportunity you have to make a good first impression and get voters on your side. If you play your game right and have a good reputation with the people then you shouldn’t have a hard time winning them over. It will also be wise to meet the traditional rulers, chiefs and other influential community people. You should inform them of your coming ahead of time so that they can assemble maybe at the traditional ruler’s palace so that you can see them and seek their good will. If these people accept you then you will have the backing of their followers so make sure you see them and discuss the way forward. It is also important that you meet people who have been in politics before who are very experienced with politics and seek their advice and support. They will be happy to help you if you do visit them with an open mind.
- Follow up: Do not relax after your rally travels. Keep following up with your campaign people stationed in every locality to make sure you don’t go out of the people’s mind, for out of sight is out of mind. This follow up should go on up to the time that elections are conducted and completed. You should make a head way with this if your campaign group does its job of reaching people in every nook and cranny. I am not suggesting that you instigate violence during the election but have people monitor the voting process to ensure it is free and fair without any irregularities.
In conclusion, I must say that the trend of elections in Nigeria suggest you do whatever it takes to win but I don’t believe that. If you do your campaign well and not make unrealistic promises then you shouldn’t have a problem. If you don’t succeed the first time then contest again and the people will give you their votes if you are good. We have too many bad leaders already, we need good ones now so do not compromise in order to win elections at any cost because the cost may be too high for you when the people find out who you are. Having said that, I wish you success in your ambition and hope to hear from you when you become a senator.