A bill, Not-Too-Young-To-Run which seeks to reduce the age bracket for political office seekers has passed second reading at the National Assembly.
Moreover, campaigns for a ‘new Nigeria’ made up of youths as the majority leaders have continued to spring up daily, following the perceived mismanagement and corruptions which the older leaders who have steered the affairs of the nation since independence have come to be known for.
Realising that the youths should be at the topmost echelon of political leadership, House member representing Oshodi/Isolo 11 of the Federal constituency of Lagos state, Honourable Tony Nwulu had sponsored the bill, Not-Too-Young-To-Run,(NTYTR) which seeks to reduce, in favour of the youths, the constitutional age requirement for elective office seekers.
The bill which was originally launched in Nigeria was adopted at the global launching at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law in Geneva.
The bill seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement from 40 to 30 years for someone seeking the office of the President of the Federal Republic; from 35 to 30 years for State Governor; from 30 to 25 years for an office in the Federal House of Representatives and from 30 to 25 years for State Houses of Assemblies.
Speaking on the place of the youths in national development, a youth advocate for democracy, Eta Uso, said, “Nigeria is a country where youths make up majority of the population but remain sidelined by the political elites.”
He said that the current politics of exclusion and disenfranchisement does not reflect the true realities of the place of youths in nation building in Africa’s largest democracy. He said that Nigeria’s population which has exceeded 180 million people has more than sixty percent of Nigerians under the age bracket of 25 years old.
“We are seeing a ‘new’ Nigeria take shape; a Nigeria where youth are demanding their rightful place in the political process. One of the tools that Nigerian youth are using to demand political inclusion is the “Not Too Young to Run Bill.”
Explaining the need for the bill, Uso said, “The youth of Nigeria are using this bill to not only advocate for greater inclusion into the political process, but to also demand more access at the table where decisions are made.”
“Lest we forget, the Nigerian political class has consistently, over the years, justified the exclusion of the youth in the political process under the notion that we the youth are not ready. But Nigerian youths have consistently proven them wrong.”
Continuing, Uso said, “Look at the country today, in all spheres; technology, agriculture, media, environment and grassroots engagement for various causes – the youth of Nigeria have consistently proven themselves as indispensable parties in advancing meaningful solutions.”
“If we have succeeded in all these, on what basis are we ‘not ready’ or unqualified to take the reins of political power at different levels in Nigeria? It is also noteworthy that in Nigeria today, there is this subtle fear of radicalization of idle youth. One wonders, why worry when the solution is before all of us.”
However, proffering solution to the problem, Uso said, “And the solution is simple; empower and engage the youth to stop violent extremism and their recruitment for unhealthy purposes. And this can only be done by inclusion and not exclusion or relegation.”
“Going back to the Not-Too-Young-to-Run-bill, it is pertinent to note that it has been a long walk and while this project of ours (the youth of Nigeria) is still far from the finish line, the good news is that we are not giving up. And each day, we continue to seek inroads at increasing awareness, and consistently sustaining the pressure for consideration and passage of the Not Too Young to Run (NTYTR) Bill in Nigeria.”
By Eta Uso.
Uso wrote from Abuja. He possesses an academic background in Artificial Intelligence and Engineering.