Skip to main content

Pursuing Its Self-Serving Agenda, National Assembly Kills 'Not Too Young To Run' Bill

The bill, though passed at 1st and 2nd readings, was not included in the final report that was considered and adopted by the lawmakers at the Lagos retreat which held on 14 – 15 July 2017.

Reports emanating from the just concluded joint retreat on constitution review held in Intercontinental hotel, Lagos indicates that the Senate and House Committee on Constitution review have killed the Not Too Young To Run bill. The bill, though passed at 1st and 2nd readings, was not included in the final report that was considered and adopted by the lawmakers at the Lagos retreat which held on 14 – 15 July 2017. The mere fact that the proposed amendment was not included on the agenda suggests that the National Assembly members, particularly members of the committee were opposed to any move to open the political space for youth inclusion. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu  publicly declared support for the bill. The House of Representatives even alluded to it as an achievement in its 2 years’ scorecard.

Over 25 State Houses of Assembly have publicly declared support and endorsed the bill following series of engagements with young people at the state level. This is the only bill with maximum support of the vast youth population in Nigeria. However, it seems the support is merely for camera sake and to look good before the youth and people.

Investigations revealed that at committee level, the bill was dropped for the following selfish reasons: that should the bill sail through, most of lawmakers would be unseated in 2019; Nigeria is not ready for younger leaders; ground can’t be ceded for young people as they have no place in leadership and politics.

This is worrisome because in the history of youth advocacy in Nigeria, there has not been any unanimity in organizing such as witnessed with the bill purportedly killed by the National Assembly. For instance, more than 7 thousand youth trooped out to canvass for the bill in insurgency ravaged states of Yobe and Borno 

The question to ask from this self-serving senators is whose interest do they serve, who do they represent? The People or Personal Interest?

It is important to note that this development is completely not unexpected as investigations have revealed that the campaign has put several of them on their toes in their various constituencies. In fact, one formidable aspirant flying the flag in his campaign in Lagos was Dayo Isreal, in the local government campaign before he was dropped by the APC.

Investigations revealed that several honorables are said to be unhappy as each time they return to their constituency, there are young people planning on running in 2019 and in their words shouting “not too young to run” all over.

SaharaReporters put a call to the sponsor of the Bill Mr. Tony Nwulu representing Isolo/Oshodi Federal Constituency 11.

The online media also reached out to one of the members of the Not Too Young To Run Movement, Mr. Ibrahim Farouk who expressed disbelief that the bill did not sail to the harmonization and adoption stage.

This incident like several others brings the self-serving agenda of NASS into play. Our legislators have dropped, without a sense of shame, a bill which has been replicated in other climes and launched globally.  The campaign was launched by the UN in November 2016 and January 2017 at offices in Geneva and New York and set for launch by the African Union in Addis Ababa. The National Assembly has also received commendation from the United Nations and African Union for providing leadership in the continent of Africa for considering the bill in the first place. But our disingenuous and self-serving NASS do not have the interest of the people at heart.

While the bill which has passed 2nd reading in the two houses did not make it to harmonization stage is better left for conjecture especially as the life pension bill for Principal Officers, which has received so much outcry from the masses was considered during the two-day retreat. In fact, investigations further revealed that the legislators dropped the electoral offense Commission recommendation in anger. The electoral offense commission is one of the most touted recommendations to deepen electoral reform in the last ten years. Nigerian legislators voted against this recommendation once again.

The Not Too Young To Run bill is a constitutional amendment bill that promote youth inclusion in politics through the reduction of age criteria for running for office. The bill promotes inter-generational dialogue and political mentorship as young people are encouraged to participate in electoral politics. The bill passed 1st and 2nd reading in both chambers of the National Assembly and committed to the Senate and House committee on constitution review. The committees must incorporate the amendment into its report before laying it at plenary. The bill dies a natural death if the committee fails to include the proposed amendment in its report. In the Senate, the bill is sponsored by Senator Abdulaziz Nyako while Hon. Tony Nwulu sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.