History was made in Nigeria on Thursday, the 15th of February, 2018 when Plateau and Anambra states completed passage of the Not Too Young To Run Bill in their respective State Houses of Assembly. This passage brings the number of States that have passed the Bill to 25 which meets the requirement for the Bill to be passed into law according to Section 9 of the Constitution. Earlier that week, Kebbi, Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kaduna, and Niger States had joined in passing the Bill.
The Not Too Young To Run Bill was first laid on the floor of the Senate on 20th July, 2017 by the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu. The Bill, with Gazette No. HB 544, seeks to alter Sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce age qualification for the Office of President from 40 to 30 years, Governors from 35 to 30 years, Senators from 35 to 30 years and House of Representatives and State House of Assemblies members from 30 to 25 years respectively.
Over half of Nigeria’s 182 million people comprises of youth between the ages 15-35. If passed into law, the Bill will end the marginalization of youth with regards to their legitimacy to contest in elections for political offices. Nigeria has one of the largest youth populations in the world, so the passage of this bill will open up many new possibilities for dynamism in leadership in the country, something we desperately need.
This Bill will be key in energizing the youth to contribute their quota to nation building, not only as the electorate but now also as decision makers. Many young people are of the opinion that the hope of Nigeria hinges on its youths, and often blame their lack of representation in political offices as the reason for their lack of participation. The passage of this Bill should serve to change all that. We must now rise up and take responsibility and see Nigeria as our own individually and collectively and stop with the blame games.
All eyes are now on President Muhammadu Buhari to give assent to the Bill seeing that it has met all the stipulations required by law. The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright took to his Twitter handle to express his delight over the progress of the campaign barely 24 hours after it achieved its historic passage. He also urged President Buhari to grant assent to the passage of the Bill. He said, “I am delighted at this excellent news and congratulate the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign. I urge @MBuhari to give assent as soon as possible. Next step is young people (especially women) to present themselves as candidates.”
In addition to seeing the Bill become a reality, the Not Too Young To Run group has declared March 14, 2018 as the National Day of Action for Presidential Assent. The group is calling on the citizenry and all well-meaning Nigerians, especially youths, to turn up to march to the Presidential Villa to discuss with President Buhari as regards assent to the Bill.