Jonathan advocates removal of age limit in Nigerian elections

Former President, Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja on Saturday advocated the removal of the constitutional age limit of 40 years for a Nigerian to become president.

Mr. Jonathan described the provision as discriminatory against young Nigerians, who had the energy, ideas and other qualities to lead the country to greatness.

Mr. Jonathan spoke at an international youth conference, organised by the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, NYPF, with the theme, Capacity for Change for a New Nigeria.

He challenged the youth to forward a constitution amendment bill to the National Assembly for the removal of all discriminatory provisions in terms of age and promised to support them.

The president said the call by the Chairman and Founder of NYPF, Moses Siasia, for 35 per cent affirmative action for the youth in governance also limited the aspiration of the group.

He noted that asking for a percentage amounted to self-limitation, considering that the youth had all that was required to govern, especially the numerical strength to get the highest office in the land.

“The youths have no limit in terms of number and capacity to lead this country to greatness. The only limit is that for youths to contest as president, they need to be 40. If General Yakubu Gowon was able to rule this country at 32, there is no reason why the youths should not be given the chance. So, don’t ask for “per cent” because by that request you are limiting yourselves. I think what the youth should do now is to come together, and I will support you, and take a bill to the National Assembly to amend some discriminatory provisions of the constitution in terms of age,” he said.

Mr. Jonathan pledged the continued support of his administration to the youth through policies and programmes that would continue to harness their huge potential for national development.

He said through programmes, such as YouWin, SURE-P, Graduate Internship Scheme and the Community Service Programme, his administration would continue to create opportunities for young people.

He stated that the youth deserved encouragement because they were the ones winning laurels and making the country proud in sports and other international competitions.

“These programmes and many more we are doing to make sure we give opportunities to our young people, because we appreciate the young people; they have made this country proud. I always say that whenever you read newspapers, watch television or listen to the radio, those who preach hate, quarrel and try to divide us on the basis of ethnicity and religion are not the young people but grandfathers.

“The youths live with whomever they are comfortable with regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation; they want to marry whomever they love. They are not like those old people who are disturbing us, who want to divide us based on religion and all kinds of sentiments. But listening to you here gives me hope that this country is beginning to change, and it is changing for the better,” Mr. Jonathan said.

Mr. Siasia noted that the leaders of the global economy were people below 35 years.

He said that NYPF was building the capacities of young Nigerians to make them ready tools for nation building.

“We have built a database for all young professionals globally. We want a situation where we will use young Nigerians to build the nation. But we have been nourished by a generation of broken promises, so we appeal to the president to give young professionals 35 per cent affirmative action in governance,” Mr. Siasia said.



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  • Harry

    The President should be talking about lowering the age limit to 35 rather than removing age limit completely. The biggest economy and democracy in the whole wide world has age limit.

  • Dr Patrick Kolawole Awosan

    President Ebele Jonathan is truly an authentic half-baked intelectual,moron,clueless,ineptitude and lacking leadership stature by advocating for the removal of age-limit as requirement for qualification to run for the office of Nigerian president.
    How does that man think? Does Jonathan possess the required common-sense and intelligence?
    What about the experience require to be a good leader?What about capability,intelligence-capacity,competency,wisdom and
    know-how knowledge?
    Could a 35 years old inexperienced,incompetent and incapable Nigerian ever possesses all the vital leadership requirements to be a good Nigerian president?Very naive and dumb idea!Anyway,i am not surprise because,Mr Ebele Jonathan himself evfen though he was above fifty years before he run for the office of president of Nigeria did not possess all the vital pre-requisite of aspiring leader till present moment almost six years in office.

    • jon

      In the United States of America, The Constitution gives three eligibility requirements to be president: one must be 35 years of age, a resident “within the United States” for 14 years, and a “natural born Citizen,” a term not defined in the Constitution.

  • Dayo

    The concern of any selfless youth leaders that are interfacing with the national leadership ought to centre on the large numbers of young people who are unemployed or underemployed and whose numbers are increasing annually. The consequence of the underemployment faces the nation in the format of militancy, terrorism, kidnapping, human capital flight, etc.

  • Kwango

    I believe Dr Jonathan does not think through issues properly before he makes a comment. One wonders if these statements were suggestions to him that he hardly reflects on. If at over 55 and more than 10 years in government, the president’s cabinet is characterised by mediocre non-performers and charlatans, I wonder what cabinet he would put together if he was 32 without any experience. Gowon’s inexperience and mediocrity led Nigeria to a 30 month civil war and millions of lives lost. Gowon signed the Aburi accord and afterwards realised that he didn’t think properly or he was so naïve he couldn’t insist on or defend his decision. What President Jonathan is proposing is very dangerous. What education system, or freedom of association laws, or respect for human rights and dignity has he instituted to bring up youths with sound mind and judgement. If Gen Gowon who benefited from federal sponsorship and near zero corruption could perform so woefully, then guess what would happen with todays ‘chop I chop’ youths. The present hate infested SS youths cannot produce any national leadership. The betrayal prone, ethnic infested Yoruba youths cannot produce any either. The nationally frustrated and directionless Igbo youths will not fare any better. The Boko Haramic minds of Northern youths is not suitable for leadership. The vengefully corrupt, remorseless and ‘landlocked’ attitude of the Middle Beltans is a danger to leadership. (Abba Moro example).
    The president’s opinion seem to be in the direction of monarchy where a leader hands over to his wife, sister or uncle and then to his children. He has found out Nigerians are gullible people who prostrate before power for crumbs and wouldn’t mind singing praises for the ‘transformational qualities’ of an unborn baby suitable for performing more than ‘all former presidents put together’. When leaders lack ideas on how to solve problems before them, they begin to propose ideas on imaginary problems that are not before them!

    • Tamilore

      How old are you? Are you so old that you have forgotten your history lessons in school? General Gowon did not start the Civil War, he was simply in office when it happened and despite his young age he managed to stop the country from disintegrating completely, a mighty feat in itself considering the lingering desire for separation in most of Nigeria’s major tribes. Besides, what’s wrong with having a young President? Those in power are old and have already been given the opportunity to perform and they have performed woefully. Let another generation take the reins of power while they’re still young and idealistic. Since they’re younger they will be able to connect better in today’s world where most of the major investors and entrepreneurs are under 40 anyway. Also, what’s wrong with being inexperienced; if they’ve not had any experience in government then they’ll have new, innovative ideas to appeal to the populace and they won’t have been tainted by the rampant corruption already existing in the government.
      Yes, the leaders can try to create a dynasty, but only if we let them, but at the end of the day it’s our decision who gains these positions of power, so we deserve what we get.

      • kwango

        If your response over a clear, simple contribution is so windy and lacking in reasoning, how would you fare when you are given the presidency. Then you will tell us ‘I had no shirts’ or ‘I had no brain’. Where did you read in the post that Gowon started the civil war? or did he not? Hear yourself: What’ wrong with being inexperienced? Answer: The youths may have been so mismanaged that you cannot spot the difference.

  • Kay Soyemi (Esq.)

    A very insincere piece of demagoguery from Mr. President.

    If he believed in what he said, he should put his actions to the crucible against his own words – what is the percentage representation of youths in the Confab membership that he drew up?

    Saying and doing are two very different things.

    Janus is a two-faced mythical animal.

  • kwango

    A president that appointed an 80+ year old Bamanga Tukur as head of a federal agency, 80+ Anenih as head of another body is at the same time talking about the youth. Must the law be changed before graduates get jobs that will help prepare them for leadership? Because these group of leaders including the president did not prepare or run for office on any manifesto or ideology, Dr Jonathan is now thinking all presidents all over the world is by luck. Therefore what stops a youth corper from trying the presidency even after being trampled upon at a stadium recruitment episode. I wonder when people like the current senate president David Mark (since 1984) will have the courage to say no to federal positions?

  • jjbenny

    Mr. Ogaga Ifewodo your vision does not tally with the visions of the treasury looters who sons and daughter of Isokoland. Added, most Isoko people do not think beyond their noses. They need a wake up call from someone like you to galvanize them into the political arena to fight for their rights. This is the time to begin the process. I would expect you to call on Isoko people to en masse for the APC. More power to you.