A coalition of youth organizations, defying an early morning downpour, today staged a peaceful protest in Abuja over the removal of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill from the report of the Constitution Review Committee of the National Assembly.
The bill seeks to alter Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years, Governor and Senator from 35 to 30, and the House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly from 30 to 25. The Bill also seeks to mainstream independent candidacy into Nigeria’s electoral process.
The protesters, from various youth organizations across the country, wore white T-shirts with the inscription, ‘I Support #NotTooYoungToRun Bill’.
The protest march began at the Unity Fountain in the center of the city. It moved to the National Assembly, which the protesters vowed to occupy until the leadership of National Assembly yields to the demand and passes the bill, which would eliminate age limits for elected office, into law.
For that purpose, the #NotTooYoungToRun protesters are demanding 240 YES votes from the House of Representatives and 72 from the Senate.
Hamzat Lawal, one of the conveners who spoke on behalf of the group, said they were at the National Assembly to hold the legislators accountable, saying the constitution should be amended to accommodate the younger generation.
"Young people constitute 60% of the population and want the constitution to open political space to ensure inclusion of young generation instead of recycling the old ones. We want a constitution that will not be a hindrance to young people."
Also speaking, ‘Ambassador’ Chibuzor Okereke,Speaker, Nigerian Youth Democracy and Governance Assembly, noted that the bill is the only proposed constitutional amendment that promotes youth political participation in the political process through removal of age limits for running for office.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dino Melaye, said in an address that youth has played a prominent role in the revival of democracy in Nigeria, and noted that the bill has received expeditious attention. The bill passed the first and second reading in both Houses in fulfillment of the constitution amendment procedure.
Mr. Melaye noted that there is a proposal before the Constitution Review Committee for the age limit for the State Assemblies and the House to be reduced from 30 to 25, the Senate from 40 to 30 and President from 40 to 35, and assured the protesters that the bill will be passed.
The bill was sponsored by Tony Nwulu in the House of Representatives and Abdul Aziz Nyako in the Senate.