Young Nigerians besieged the National Assembly complex in Abuja on Tuesday demanding the passage of the ‘not too young to run’ bill.
Here is all you need to know about the bill:
The real nomenclature of the bill is: ‘A bill for an act to alter the provision of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 and for other matters connected therewith’.
At the Senate, it was sponsored by Abdul-Aziz Nyako, who represents Adamawa Central Senatorial District, while at House of Representatives, it was sponsored by Tony Nwulu, who represents Oshodi/Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos State.
However, the campaign to get young Nigerians aware of the bill and push for its passage is being championed by Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), headed by Samson Itodo.
The ‘no too young to run’ bill seeks to alter Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for contesting for elective positions.
It proposed that the age requirement for running for the Office of the President should be lowered from 40 years to 30 years, Governor from 35 to 30, Senate from 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25. The bill also seeks to allow independent candidature in the country’s electoral process.
Ultimately, the goal is to promote increased youth participation in the political processes globally, given that a greater percentage of the world’s population is made up of people between the ages of 20 and 40.
HOW FAR THE BILL HAS GONE?
The bill, with gazette number SB. 363, was read and passed for the first time during the Senate’s plenary on November 1, 2016. However, according to Adesola Adeyeye, an Osun State lawmaker, when it was debated by the constitution review committee, majority of the committee members opposed it, so it was dropped.
Conversely, at the House of Representatives, the bill has passed the 1st and 2nd reading stage and is currently before the House Committee on Constitution Review.
Also, according to Adeyeye, at the end of the just concluded legislators’ retreat, which took place in Lagos, the lawmakers were convinced that the bill should be given favourable consideration.
SUPPORTERS OF THE BILL
Apart from sponsors Nwulu and Nyako, some other lawmakers have publicly supported the bill. It does appear though that the bill is favourably perceived by the House of Representatives, while the same cannot be said of the Senate. Perhaps the most vocal supporter of the bill in the Senate is Adeyeye, who insists that “if you are old enough to die for your country (i.e to be enlisted in the military), you are old enough to hold office in your country”.
In the lower legislative chamber, many of the members, including Yakubu Dogara, the Speaker, had voiced support for the bill on several occasions, promising to ensure that it is passed.
Lately, Bukola Saraki, the Senate President, and some of his loyalists such as Dino Melaye, appear to be tilting in support of the bill.
The ‘not too young to run bill’ enjoys the support of many international organisations, chief of which is the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, which has already turned the agitation into a global campaign.
It was launched at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law at United Nations Geneva, on November 22, 2016.
Other international bodies partnering with YIAGA on the campaign include the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, and the European Youth Forum.