Understanding the Not Too Young To Run Bill –Ishola Adebayo

August 3, 2017

No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death. –- Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

With the dynamism, energy, innovation and resilience of youth, the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill if passed will increase the competitiveness of electoral politics in Nigeria. It will enhance issue-based politics and build a culture of civic participation and engagement in youths.

It would be recalled that, Hon. Tony Nwulu representing Oshodi/Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos state sponsored the bill otherwise referred to as the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. The bill seeks to alter the Section 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25.

Through the ongoing constitutional amendment, the bill if passed will address the legal challenge posed to young people seeking to run in elections thereby guaranteeing inclusion in our political process. The amendment will not only create a level-playing field for young people; it will enhance the competitiveness of electoral politics in Nigeria due to the innovative, creative, dynamism and resourcefulness that youths bring to the electoral process. Furthermore, the Bill will deepen intergenerational dialogue as more youths will gain access to the political process for more adult-youth engagement and partnership.

While we must commend the 8th National Assembly for passing the bill during its consideration of the harmonized report of the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Review of the 1999 constitution ( as amended), at least 24 state houses of assembly need to pass the bill before it can scale through for presidential assent. As the processes of domesticating this law in states gets down to the state Assemblies, we, watch with kin interest to see those, the real enemies of our future are. Their response to this law will speak volume. It is, however, important to maintain that this bill was conceived not only to encourage youths to seek elective offices but also to ensure youths participation in governance.

It is not time to go home and rest. There is greater need to synergize together in order to implement the spirit of this law.