Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
With the endorsement by the two chambers of the National Assembly, speakers of states legislatures in the country have promisedÂ a speedy passage of the â€œNot Too Young To Runâ€ bill, which seeks to reduce the age limit for running for elected office in Nigeria.
This indication was given in Abuja yesterday by speakers of six states Houses of Assembly present at the town hall congress on the bill organised by a coalition of organisations under the umbrella of Not Too Young To Run Movement and supported by the UKactionaid.
The speakers, Hon. Ali Ahmad of Kwara State,Â Hon. Kola Oluwawole of Ekiti State, Hon. Terkimbi Ikyange of Benue State,Â Hon Aminu Abdullahi of Kaduna State and representatives of Cross River and Kebbi States speakers confidently told the gathering of young Nigerians that they are working round the clock to ensure that all the other legislative houses adopt and pass the bill.
Ahmad said before the end of the year Kwara State House of Assembly would pass the bill before the end of this year and that the network of speakers and state legislators on the issue will encourage states that are dragging foot in deliberating on the bill to see reasons why it should be passed.
He said the impressive number of youths who are legislators in many states assemblies is a paradigm shift in the nationâ€™s polity
According to him, making age a requirement to contest election into political offices in the country is an attempt to exclude the youth from political participation. â€œAge should not be a barrier for disqualifying public spirited youths from exercising their political rights.
He urged the youth not to rest on the oars of passing the bill, but to equip themselves politically by investing in themselves if they really want to run for political offices.
â€œThe bill is not a qualification bill but to prepare the youth for experiences needed to occupy political officeâ€, he said.
One of the convener of the town hall meeting, Samson Itodo who is the Executive Director of YIAGA said the Movement advocates for â€œamendments to the Nigerian constitution to reduce the age for running for the Presidency of Nigeria from 40 years to 30 years, governors from 35 to 30, Senate from 35 to 30, House of Representatives from 30 to 25 and for state House of Assembly from 30 to 25â€.
He said the advocacy for the age reduction bill was premised on four key pillars of promoting inclusion, deepening intergenerational dialogue and mobility, promoting competitive politics and enhancing democratic development.
Itodo disclosed that the campaign has gained both national and international attention with the United Nations and the African Union it earlier this year.
Speaking on national acceptance of the advocacy so far, he said, â€œThe Nigerian Senate and House of Representatives also demonstrated their support for youth inclusion by voting to pass the age reduction bill in the ongoing constitutional amendment process and has transmitted this as part of the Â fifteen proposed amendments to the states houses of assemblies for ratification. Each proposed amendment will require the affirmative votes of at least 24 states assemblies to passâ€.
The town hall meeting, he said which was organized to engage with lawmakers from the state assemblies on the constitution review is in consonance with the yearnings and aspirations of the people.