The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ali Ahmad, has said the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill will be passed by the various state Houses of Assembly before December 25 this year.
Mr. Ahmad gave the assurance in an address at the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ town hall meeting on constitution review in Abuja on Monday.
He said ‘Not Too Young To Run’ is a global affair and not just for Nigeria, as international human rights organisations are interested in the way it is operated.
“If there is one bill that is going to pass at the state level, definitely it is the ‘Not Too Young To Run bill’. The bill was able to survive at the national level. If you have an objective, pursue it passionately and whatever roadblocks you might have, just believe you will succeed,” he said.
Mr. Ahmad said age should not disqualify a candidate who is interested in governing his people.
“Kwara State will be among the first states that will turn their own constitution to the National Assembly. In 2019,young mind should set the motion, start from the beginning, start from the grassroots level,” he said. .
“The proposed age for contesting for presidential election is 35 and it used to be 40. For House of Representatives is 25, while it used to be 30. So the minimum age to contest for an election apart from the president is 25, don’t let 2019 go without having a space in the political sphere,” he said.
Samson Itodo, the convener of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ constitutional review meeting, said the bill is among the 15 bills sent to state Houses of Assembly by the National Assembly, noting that the bill enjoys wide support from Nigerian youth as it seeks to promote inclusion by reducing the age for running for political offices in Nigeria.
“We cannot say a country will develop without including the youth in the political affairs. It is important to engage youth in the political business of the country. So we call on state Houses of Assembly to vote yes to ‘Not Too Young To Run’ that will give young people the opportunity to contribute to national development,” Mr. Itodo said.
According to him, for young people, it is a question of whether our political parties will uphold the principles of democracy, transparency and accountability by ensuring that delegates are not substituted 24 hours before primaries and that young people are given opportunities to buy party nomination forms.
He said the impact of money in Nigerian elections is strong, noting that Nigerians need to enforce the campaign spending law.
“The Electoral Act is very clear on the amount of money you can spend on election but our leaders don’t comply, even President Buhari broke the law in 2015 by spending above the stipulated amount. INEC needs to be empowered and capacitated to hold our political parties accountable,” he said.
The ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill needs endorsement by 24 state Houses of Assembly before it goes to the president for his assent to become law.
Hillary Bisong, the Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, however, said Nigerians need to change their mentality from entitlement and inheritance to investment.
He said Nigerian youth need to run for an office because of their capacity and not age.
“There is no ‘Too Old To Run’ bill, they know the youth are well educated and that is why they are using age as a barrier. Experience and quality matter a lot too,” he concluded.
The House of Representatives passed the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill on July 27, a day after it was passed by the Senate. The bill seeks to reduce the minimum age for elective offices in Nigeria.
If passed and signed into law, it would mean that an individual can contest for the office of President at the age of 35 and governor and the Senate at the age of 30.