Earlier in the year, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) called on Nigerians to support the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill by the National Assembly.
YIAGA Executive Director, Mr Samson Itodo, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the passage of the law would fast track eligibility of youths for elective political offices and would possibly end youth marginalisation in the nation.
To this effect, campaigns and street walks were carried out by various bodies and organisations to help increase awareness and bring it to the attention of the National Assembly.
Reports have it that after much negotiations, the Nigerian National Assembly is finally in the process of altering portions of its current constitution to allow more young people run for political office.
Prior to this time, the youngest age a person needs to run for elective office in Nigeria is 30 years at the House of Representatives or the State House Assembly level. The new law seeks to amend this to 25 years.
On Wednesday 17th May, 2017, while speaking at a plenary session of the country’s youth parliament in the capital Abuja, Senate President Yakubu Dogara told the young lawmakers that: “In a country with a youth population of 60 percent, the law was long overdue and the current house was committed to seeing it through”. “…We committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda to give priority to necessary legislative interventions to promote equality and inclusion, and entrench the rights of women, youths and vulnerable groups in the society.”
He admitted that the law will not immediately end the marginalisation of the youths but it will help to open more political opportunities for them should they delve in. He said that Nigeria had to tackle the issue of youth unemployment which he described as a nightmare to lawmakers.
He further stressed that marginalisation will not end if creativity and innovation which are critical elements in engendering economic growth and development are not adequately encouraged among the youths.
“Indeed the world is open for the youths to excel, especially in the area of technological development and with opportunities; Nigerian youths can compete strongly in the technological field in the new world economy. We only need better technological education, funding and exposure to best practices,” he said.
To effectively have this law, Nigeria being Africa’s most populous nation will have to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 constitution as it aims at reducing the age of eligibility for elective offices across the board, and to introduce independent candidacy to the electoral process.
If the amendment scales through, the minimum age of eligibility for the elective offices will be modified thus:
- The Presidency eligibility age will go from 40 to 30 years.
- Governorship will fall from 35 to 30 years.
- Senate will fall from 35 to 30 years.
- House of Representatives and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25 years.