Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the age of running for public office in Nigeria should not be a major issue in election to public office as much as competence and preparation of the individual.
Mr Osinbajo stated this on Thursday in Abuja when the ‘Not Too Young To Run movement’ paid a courtesy visit to State House to press for presidential assent to the age reduction bill.
According to the vice president, it is not the age of political office holders that matters but their capacity to provide quality leadership for the country.
Mr Osinbajo, however, said young Nigerians should be allowed to run for elective public positions as they have demonstrated capacity and competence in technology, education and other sectors of the economy.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration remained committed to supporting young Nigerians in different areas, including politics.
The vice president urged young Nigerians to develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to leadership, governance, national development and the economy.
“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office shouldn’t matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you’re much younger or older in age, the more important issue, my worry always is so much the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.
“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”
Mr Osinbajo further urged the group and young Nigerians to lend voice to the administration’s campaign against corruption and for national development, saying they have the required education and capacities for public service.
He lamented that Nigeria is the only country where public resource is taken with impunity, saying corruption shakes the economy of the country and must be tackled.
The convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, said presidential assent to the Not Too Young to Run Bill will give young people opportunity to contribute their quota to the development of the country.
Mr Itodo said democracy loses its vitality if the word “inclusion” is taken out of it, noting that inter-generational dialogue and values are key to the process of democracy
“We are not clamouring for the elders to leave the political sphere for young people. There is need to enhance the political process. Nigeria has inspired a global campaign across the world for youth participation in politics. These youth have the capacity, integrity and competence to hold offices which is why they should be included in the political process,” he said.
Meanwhile the sponsor of the bill, Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi Isolo federal constituency at the House of Representatives, said beyond passing the bill, aspirants must belong to a political process and start a political process.
“Power is not given, it is taken. The vice president got to his position through the vote of the youth who voted for him and believe him,” he said.
“Are young people ready? Young people are leading in agencies across the nation, we are bridging the education gap through technology, if young people are leading in agencies, why should we say they are not ready for political process,” Bella Ndubuisi, a member of the movement said.
According to her, a lot of young people have expressed intention for running in the 2019 elections. She askthe president to assent to the bill to enhance their chances.
The National Assembly recently transmitted the Age Reduction Bill and 11 others to President Buhari for assent.
This was sequel to a motion titled, “Passage of Constitution (fourth) Alteration Bills, 2018”, sponsored by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekwerwmadu, and 49 other senators.
The Not Too Young To Run bill was passed by the National Assembly in July 2017 and seeks to reduce the age for running for elective offices in Nigeria.
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