Nigeria is in the process of altering portions of its current constitution to allow more young people to run for political office.
The youngest age a person needs to run for elective office in Nigeria is 30 years at the level of a member of the House of Representatives or the State House Assembly. The new law seeks to bring it down to 25 years.
According to the speaker of the lower house of the country’s law-making chamber, lawmakers were committed to passing the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill to lower age requirements for elective offices.
We committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda to give priority to – necessary legislative interventions to promote equality and inclusion, and entrench the rights of women, youths and vulnerable groups in the society.
Yakubu Dogara was speaking a plenary session of the country’s youth parliament in the capital Abuja on Wednesday.
He said in a country with a youth population of 60%, the law was long overdue and the current house was committed to seeing it through. “… we committed ourselves in our Legislative Agenda to give priority to – necessary legislative interventions to promote equality and inclusion, and entrench the rights of women, youths and vulnerable groups in the society,’ he told the young lawmakers.
Africa’s most populous will thus have to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution as it aims at reducing the age of eligibility for elective offices across the board, and to introduce independent candidacy to the electoral process.
The Speaker noted that if the amendment scales through, the minimum age of eligibility for the elective offices will be modified as follows:
1. The Presidency eligibility age will fall from 40 to 30 years
2. Governorship – 35 to 30 years
3. Senate – 35 to 30 years
4. House of Representatives and State House of Assembly – 30 to 25 years.
Whiles admitting that the law will not immediately end the marginalization of the youth, he said it will open more political opportunities for them. He said Nigeria had to tackle the issue of youth unemployment which he described as a nightmare to lawmakers.
“It is also my strong view that creativity and innovation are critical elements in engendering economic growth and development. Indeed the world is open for the youths to excel, especially in the area of technological development.
‘‘Nigerian youths can compete strongly in the technological field in the new world economy. We only need better technological education, funding and exposure to best practices,” he stressed.