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Wait untill 2023, Buhari tells Nigerian youths

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Terhemba Daka (Abuja) and Daniel Anazia
01 June 2018   |   4:30 am
Nigerian’s youths eyeing the presidency will have to wait until 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari declared yesterday, as he signed into law the Not Too Young To Run¬ bill.The act, signed in the presence of selected y¬ouths from the 36 states of t-he federation and the Federal Capital Te¬rritory ....

President Muhammadu Buhari (middle) and representatives of Nigerian youths in 36 states of the Federation, during the signing of the Not Too Young To Run Bill at the State House, Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA   

PDP vows better age limit package, claims ownership of new legislation

Nigerian’s youths eyeing the presidency will have to wait until 2023, President Muhammadu Buhari declared yesterday, as he signed into law the Not Too Young To Run bill.The act, signed in the presence of selected y¬ouths from the 36 states of t-he federation and the Federal Capital Te¬rritory (FCT), reduces the minimum age requirement for elective positions in the country.

“Please, can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections!” Buhari told the youths.He had recently declared his intention to seek re-elec¬tion in next year’s general polls.

“It may be tempting for you to thin¬k of this as the end of the journey. How-ever, it is only the beginning; there is¬ still a lot of work ahead, towards ensu¬ring that young people take full advanta¬ge of the opportunities provided, not onl¬y by this constitutional amendment but a¬lso through Nigeria’s boundless prospect¬s.

“You should inculcate the spirit of self-¬help. Those who complete their training should not just sit down and wait for the government or private sector to employ the¬m. You should be innovative and turn you¬r hands to any legitimate work that will¬ enable you to sustain yourself,” the President said.

Buhari explained that the eligible age for aspirants to state Houses of Assembly and the Fe¬deral House of Representatives has been r¬educed from 30 to 25 years, and the office of president from 40 to 35 years.He, however, wondered why “the age limits for senators and governors was not reduced, as originally proposed by the sponsors of the bill,” stressing: “This is an issue that may need to be addressed going forward.”

Notwithstanding, he said the feat has increased the quality of the nation’s democracy and expanded the playing field for youth participation in politics. The Convener of the Not Too Young To Run ¬group, Samson Itodo, who spoke on beha¬lf of youths, praised Buhari’s effort, saying the President has written ¬his name in gold by assenting to the bill. He expressed disappointment that Zamfara, Lagos and Kano States declined to pass the bill in their Houses of Assembly.

Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, also commended Buhari for signing the bill, and congratulated youths on the “new vista of political relevance and attainments.””We have delivered on our promise and it is my hope that the youth will capitalise on it to take their rightful place in the governance of the country. As I have always maintained, today, not tomorrow, belongs to the youth. It is theirs to organise and mobilise to take it,” he said.

He added: “I commend President Muhammadu Buhari for assenting to the bill, to motivate our youth to start preparations for the 2019 elections. However, I equally urge him to assent to the remaining bills already transmitted to him, including the bill seeking financial autonomy for state Houses of Assembly.”

But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) criticised the president and the All Progressives Congress (APC) “for attempting to parade themselves as the architects of the Not Too Young to Run Act, which was sponsored and pursued by PDP members in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.”

In a statement signed by its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP said: “President Buhari had no input whatsoever in the bill; never showed any support or enthusiasm towards the initiative, but had no option but to perform a mandatory statutory duty of assenting to the bill, given that it had already passed through the constitutionally required approval of two-thirds of states in the federation.”

It said: “This development is indeed a democratic victory for Nigerian youths over forces, particularly the APC that had hitherto disdained and disregarded them as lazy and inconsequential, but had to succumb to the dictates of the law and pressure by youths and the PDP.”

The party commended the sponsor of the bill, Tony Nwulu (representative for Oshodi-Isolo federal constituency), and the resilience of Nigerian youths in getting the initiative through, “in line with the vision of the PDP to allow younger Nigerians actively participate in elective positions in governance at all levels.”

It said: “In preparation for the passage of the bill, the PDP had since launched our ‘Generation Next Movement’, which has already put younger Nigerians at vantage positions to participate in elective positions ahead of the 2019 general elections.”In line with the ‘Generation Next Movement’, the rebranded PDP, among other pro-youth incentives, has since approved certain critical clauses and waivers, so that the young people will actively vie for positions in the 2019 general elections.

“In line with our dream of providing enabling environment for youth participation in elections and governance, the PDP, after winning in 2019, will further lower the age qualification to entrench our vision that ‘whoever can vote can be voted for’, which is a global standard.”

Meanwhile, at the fourth edition of the Nigeria Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders in Lagos, yesterday, youths reiterated calls for more inclusion in governance.The event, a yearly knowledge-exchange and mentorship programme between present and emerging leaders in government and the public sector, was themed, ‘Shaping New Narratives’.

Speaking with The Guardian at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, venue, Chief Executive of Connected Development (CODE) and Co-founder, Not Too Young To Run Movement, Hamzat Lawal, described the signing of the bill as “quite historical and exciting.”According to him, “For once, my generation will be allowed to aspire to political leadership. It shows that this is the time for young people to get on the front line of politics and, of course, run for political office.”