Not Too Young To Run Movement seeks reduction of age for Senate, Governorship

Nigerian Senate Chambers
Nigerian Senate Chamber used to illustrate the story.

The Not Too Young To Run Movement has called on members of the National Assembly to review its vote on the age qualification for the senate and governors.

This was top of the demands made by the movement on Friday at a press conference in Abuja.

The convener of the movement, Samson Itodo, said the review should be in tandem with its initial proposal which put the age qualification for governor and senate at 30 years.

He said political parties should expedite action on assenting to electoral reform bills bordering on limiting campaign expenditure and cost of securing party nomination.

President Muhammmadu Buhari on Thursday, signed the “Not Too Young To Run Bill” into law at the Council Chamber of State House Presidential Villa, in the presence of leaders of the movement as well as selected invited youth from across the county.

The new law is aimed at relaxing some of the stringent and discriminatory provisions of the constitution.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly last year to alter Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the constitution and it seeks to reduce the age qualification for president from 40 to 30; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.

However, in the assented bill, the age qualification for governor and senate was retained at 35 years contrary to the demands of the movement.

Mr Buhari said in the bill presented to him for assent, there was no reduction in the age requirement for the office of senators and governors, indicating that age would still be left at 35. He said he hoped it will be looked after eventually.

The movement described the retention of the 35 years for both offices as “unfortunate and disappointing” as it urged the National Assembly to revisit its vote.

Mr Itodo also demanded that political parties reserve 50 per cent of party tickets for capable, competent and morally upright youth aspirants across all elections in 2019. He urged the political parties to “uphold the principles of transparency, democracy and accountability in party primaries.”

He called on Nigerian youth to exercise their power in the 2019 elections not only as voters or campaign merchants but as qualified electoral candidates.

“To the political class, if you want the youth vote, reserve tickets for youth aspirants. Uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates.

“The movement is committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its ‘Ready To Run’ initiative.

“The movement will continue to mobilize young people across the country to participate in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise,” he said.

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He further promised that “the movement will retains its identity as a non-partisan and citizen-led movement of citizens dedicated to the defence of democracy and nation building. The movement will not be transiting into a political party.”

While appreciating the president, the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo and other lawmakers who brought the bill to life, he announced that the movement will be hosting a Not To Young To Run Celebration Conference on June 28, in Abuja.

“The ‘Celebration Conference’ is convened to celebrate effective activism and underscore the inestimable value of citizen-state engagement in enhancing the quality of electoral politics in Nigeria,” he said.

Lawmakers had approved independent candidature in the new law.

It was part of a wider constitutional amendment process which the National Assembly carried out last year.

Since its passage in July 2017 by the National Assembly, about 25 states, representing more than two-thirds of the country’s 36 states, had adopted the bill as at March ending.

The assent of the bill was the outcome of relentless efforts by a coalition of about 54 youth-based initiatives across the country.

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