President of the National Youth Council (NYC), Mr. Ajani Olawale James
By Dele Ogbodo
The President of the National Youth Council (NYC), the umbrella body of all youth organisations in the country, Mr. Ajani Olawale James, Monday called on members of the National Assembly to urgently consider the downward review of ages of intending political office holders in the ongoing constitutional review so as to open the political space to intending young political office seekers in the forthcoming elections.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, James said: “We want the constitution to be amended, to remove the age qualification for contesting elections into the office of the President from 40 years to 35 years, the governors and Senate to 30 years, and that of House of Representatives and State House of Assemblies to 25 years.
“We also call for the adoption of independent candidacy in the amendment of the constitution.”
He said one means by which the political space can be opened to young people is to accommodate independent candidacy in our electoral process.
According to him, qualified young people who do not wish to join any political party for ideological reason should have the right to run for election as independent candidate. He said: “We want to use the process of amending this constitution to make sure that we address some of these issues particularly bordering on the development of the youth and their role in national development.”
James said, NYC has written to the governors Forum as part of a build up process in their demand for proper engagement of the youths for national development.
He said if the demand by them is not given fair hearing, the NYC has no other option than to call for a peaceful protest in the course of the ongoing constitutional review.
He said: “But if otherwise and they did not listen to NYC, we can react through peaceful protest, though we believe in dialogue. “We are planning to use peaceful protest operation in the two places they are planning to use to lodge our grievances.
“We are really mobilising young people with placards for peaceful protest.”
The protest according to him, will not be violent adding that the purpose of calling the youths out is let the law makers know that the youths contributed to their ascendancy to the sit of authority.
“Nigerians are getting more aware and more conscious of their environment, as it is not about individual in the NASS it is about the young people. Why we are addressing this press is for youth to be aware this process is going on and that they should be part of it and begin to talk of it so that they should know that Nigerians will not take it likely with them any longer,” he said.
Other demands according to the President are: That, there should be financial autonomy for all Local Government Areas in the country, the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commissions across the country and the need for Federal Government to set up special courts to try corrupt cases against the state