The #NotTooYoungToRun movement is picking up speed in Nigeria, and sparking interest globally. According to YIAGA website, the lead organization in the movement, “The #NotTooYoungToRun 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. The Bill also seeks to mainstream independent candidacy into Nigeria’s electoral process.”
In 2017 and early 2018, some progress toward this was made when Nigeria’s Senate and House of Representatives (National Assembly) voted positively for the bill, and over 24 of the 36 states’ assemblies also passed the bill as required by law. There is a precedent for this in the region: in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya there are seats in Parliament reserved for youth representatives. This movement shows that there are a significant number of youths who are politically engaged in the country and committed to effecting positive change. The fact is that Nigeria is facing a ‘youth bulge’ with more than 50% of the population under 30 years of age. This is at odds with the age demographics of those in power; no governor is below 40 years of age, with an average age of 55.7 years. With such an age difference it is understandable that the youth feel that the issues they identify as the most pressing aren’t being tackled.
Encouraging the participation of such a large percentage of the population in national politics would go a long way to creating a more inclusive space to ensure all voices are being heard and empowered. Younger politicians are uniquely positioned to be able to connect with youth and understand the challenges they are facing economically in Nigeria. A lot of these economic problems are directly related to issues with education and training and can lead to youth becoming disenchanted and destabilizing influences. Younger politicians have a greater potential for understanding the current needs and could affect positive change in education by placing it at the forefront of national policy. As youth feel invited to participate politically they will become more engaged which will ensure that they are connected and productive members of their communities.
This campaign has spread with the support of the United Nations to target political involvement of youths globally. To get involved in this campaign you can interact through social media using the hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun. There are also fact cards you can share through social media or download and print about the discrepancy between the age demographics of the world today and the number of young politicians in office.
There is now a new concern about the delay in transmitting the passed bill to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for signing. As stated by Samson Itodo, the convener, of the #NotTooYoungToRun movement, section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), provides that the power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided, assented to by the President. And in this case, it is very important that the president assent to it because it is a constitutional alteration. This new concern calls for renewed efforts and actions by all concerned Nigerian citizens; citizens that want to see quick positive changes in the critical sectors of the country especially the education sector which has immediate and long term effect on the youth population.
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