After a group of activists sought to lower the constitutional age requirement for candidates contesting elections in a campaign tagged Not Too Young To Run, which seeks to have more youths involved in politics, Nigeria’s law makers passed the bill yesterday. The Not Too Young To Run Bill had 86 votes in support and 10 votes not in support. The bill seeks to reduce the age limits for elective positions.
In a press statement by the Not Too Young To Run movement, it commended the Nigerian Senate for the age reduction bill. The bill seeks to reduce the age for running for the office of the President from 40 to 35; Governor 35 to 30; House of Representatives 30 to 25; and State House of Assembly 30 to 25. The bill is up for consideration today by the House of Representatives. The press statement further said, “The Not Too Young To Run is about inclusion and represents over 100 million Nigerian Youth.”
— Chioma Agwuegbo (@ChiomaChuka) July 26, 2017
Senator Olusola Adeyeye who brought the bill to the Senate while addressing his fellow colleagues cited age reduction in voting to 18 years which also went in tandem with age reduction to join the army to 18 years. He said, “If you are old enough to die for your country, you are not too young to run for office.”
For a country that had to vote in a former dictator, Muhammadu Buhari whose age is telling on him, it is evident that such country is hungry for change and this is one of the many steps it is taking towards that change. Looking at Nigeria’s history, its most prosperous years were during the times young people held power.
The African Union theme “harnessing demographic dividend through investments in the youth” is definitely getting to see the light of day. In South Africa, Section 47, Clause 1 of the 1996 Constitution of South Africa states that “Every citizen who is qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly”, defaulting to Section 46 which “provides for a minimum voting age of 18 years” in National Assembly elections; Sections 106 and 105 provide the same for provincial legislatures.
The 2019 elections in Nigeria are being looked forward to as this bill takes effect after it is signed into law by the president. There has been ongoing online debate to have a young president who is at least 35. This comes with the hope that young people will truly bring change to the country.
There have been arguments that have projected that the Nigerian elite, which is largely considered selfish, passed the bill for the sake of their children. Projections have been made about how elections are likely to be flooded with the children of those that have money to campaign. This statement isn’t too far from the truth considering that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki first took over from his father as the governor of Kwara State before going to the Senate. It is not just enough to pass a bill, but Nigerian youths are also tasked with defending the bill.
The strongest argument for #NotTooYoungToRun is not that young people are ready to lead, it is that they are eligible to pay tax.
— Amara Nwankpa (@Nwankpa_A) July 19, 2017
Political space is never given, it is fought for…. #NotTooYoungToRun
— Amina Yahaya (@queen_of_dnorth) July 19, 2017
— Kingsley Godwin | $PACT (@godwinkingzley) July 19, 2017