The age reduction bill, popularly known as the not-too-young-to-run bill, is currently awaiting presidential assent in order for it to become a law. If, or better put, when President Muhammadu Buhari signs the bill into law, the constitutional age requirement for the office of the President will be reduced from 40 to 35 years old.
Similarly the age requirement for the office of state governor, as well as the Senate will be reduced from 35 to 30 years, while a 25-year-old will be eligible to run for a seat in state assemblies and the Federal House of Representatives.
Barring any major upset, available statistics as well as recent happenings point to the fact that the President is likely to endorse the age reduction bill.
Here is why:
A RELATIVELY YOUNG CABINET
An analysis of the ages of Buhari’s ministers shows that the cabinet is a relatively young one with an average age of approximately 54 years.
Of the 36 ministers in the Federal Executive Council (FEC), 21 are in their fifties, out of which nine are in their early fifties, i.e. between 50 and 53. 12 are in their sixties, and two are in their early 70s. The actual age of Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, could not be gotten as at the time of filing this report.
Also, given the fact that Buhari has many young people working directly with him as special assistants, he has shown that he is not totally against young people occupying prominent positions in the public sector.
RECENT HAPPENINGS ACROSS AFRICA
Recent happenings across several countries Africa lends further credence to the fact that African youths are no longer contented with playing the spectator on issues of politics, and Buhari would, no doubt, want to be remembered as the President who removed all the barriers for the Nigerian youth to be at par with their contemporaries.
In the recently concluded Kenyan general elections, two candidates, a male and a female, below the age of 25 were elected into the countries parliament.
John Paul Mwirigi was 23, had no job, no money, belonged to no political party, conducted his campaign by going house to house and knocking on doors, yet he defeated the sitting deputy governor of his county in the poll.
24-year-old Cynthia Jepkosgei Muge was rejected by the ruling Jubilee Party because she could not afford the nomination form. But she contested nevertheless, as an independent candidate, and succeeded in trouncing the man who was later fielded by the party. Social media, especially facebook was her major campaign tool.
Similarly, in Ghana, the general election that brought in Nana Akufo-Addo as the country’s President, also saw the emergence of 22-year-old law student, Francisca Oteng-Mensah, as winner of one of the parliamentary seats in Ghana, defeating a sitting lawmaker in the process.
In Botswana, 31-year-old Economist, Bogolo Kenewendo is the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry. In South Africa, 34 year-old Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is the current Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services and former Deputy Minister of Communication in the cabinet of Jacob Zuma. A deputy minister in Nigeria is the equivalent of a Minister of State in Nigeria.
Nigerian youths can do more if given the opportunity, and hopefully, President Buhari will make this happen.
Majority of Nigerians were unhappy with President Buhari’s comments at the Common Wealth Heads of Governments meeting in the UK, saying that majority of Nigerian youths believe that as an oil producing country, they can afford to stay idle and have everything done for them for free.
The comments generated heated controversy and the hashtag #LazyNigerianYouths trended in the social media for a long time, and when Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman tried to explain, he ended up making the matter worse. But Vice President Yemi Osinbajo came to the rescue and used his ‘sweet mouth’ to do some damage control.
However, Nigerians, especially the youth, will be expecting Buhari to make concrete amends for his gaffe by signing the not-too-young-to-run bill, and affirming that he has confidence in them.
Besides, the next general election is less than nine months away and analysts are certain that none of the candidates for the presidency would want to be in the bad books of the youth, who make up more than 50 percent of the voting population.