By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
Speaker Yakubu Dogara has assured the House of Representatives is committed to passing the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, in order to lower age requirements for elective offices, to ensure youth inclusion in politics and leadership.
He said this, yesaerday, when he addressed the plenary session of the Nigerian Youth Parliament, at the National Assembly.
Dogara reiterated that, as elected representatives, it is their duty to make sure that their constituents’ voices are heard, especially in a country with a youth population of over 60 percent.
“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 said the bill, which seeks to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is aimed at reducing the age of eligibility for elective offices across board, and to introduce independent candidacy in the electoral process.
Thus, according to Dogara, if the amendment scales through, the minimum age of eligibility for elective offices will be modified such that Presidency will be reduced from 40 to 30 years, Governor – 35 to 30 years, Senate – 35 to 30 years, House of Representatives and State House of Assembly – 30 to 25 years.
Dogara, however, said while the bill will not immediately correct marginalisation of young persons in Nigeria, it will, however, open up opportunities, hitherto, unavailable to young persons in politics. The speaker maintained that a major challenge afflicting Nigeria’s youth population is unemployment, and as “elected representatives, this gives us nightmares. 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.At every opportunity, I have also used my office to promote the potentials of this country in order to attract investment into diverse sectors of the economy through legislative diplomacy promoted with leaders of various countries. We have, therefore, deliberately set up Parliamentary Friendship Groups between Nigeria’s House of Representatives and various countries to promote economic, legislative and political cooperation between our countries.”