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Youth liberation forum, 4 not too young (but too old) to run

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Rev. Fr. John Damian

Recently, the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed a bill into law titled: “Not-Too-Young-To-Run.” The essence of this bill, according to them, was to reduce the age limits across political offices. The presidential age limit is hereby reduced from 40 to 35 and that of the governorship positions is also reduced from 35 to 30. This bill seems to advocate the inclusion of more young people into politics.

As we applaud the government for recognising the fact that young people need to be carried along, however, the problem of our youths should not be reduced to a mere age bracket. Even if we reduce the age limit of presidency to 18 years it makes little or no difference. In fact, it sounds ridiculous! We have so many young people who were old enough, sound enough, highly educated, and with all the necessary qualifications to run yet they have no political space to actualise their political ambitions.

What the young people need is space and not just the reduction of age. The young people need political space where they can exhibit their leadership skills. They need space where they can participate in decision-making. They need space at the primaries where they can be nominated and if possible elected for any position of their choice. Unfortunately, these spaces are not available! They are been occupied by the elderly ones who are old enough to retire.

If the government is sincere enough and if they really want to carry the youths along they need to sign another bill into law. A bill that creates more political space for the young people, such as “Too-Old-to-Run” Bill. Since the official age of retirement for civil servants is between 60 to 65 years. It is expected that all those who are holding public or political offices should be humble enough to hand over power to the younger generation at most at Seventy. By so doing they will now occupy their rightful positions as Elder Statesmen.

Our young people on the other hand have an important role to play; for heaven help those who help themselves. They actually need to believe in themselves and also encourage themselves. The population of the youths in this country is enough to produce a young president, but unfortunately, the youths themselves don’t even trust themselves. They need to unite and fight for the common interest and wellbeing of all the youths.

Above all, young people need to shun every form of inferiority complex. They should stop underrating themselves. For instance, when the Lord called Jeremiah, the Youngman exclaimed, “Ah, Lord God, Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to him: “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth.’” This is exactly the problem with most of our youths. Majority of them see themselves as incompetent. Instead defending their rights and their political position they prefer serving the interest of old politicians. And if you ask any of them why they are not into politics, they will simply dismiss it as a joke. They see themselves as too young to run.

However, in his first letter to Timothy St. Paul wrote: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). If you are a youth, this advise is for you. No matter how little you may think you are, always remember that you are not too young to run. And as you give yourself a chance of trial, it shall be well with you in Jesus name – Amen!


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