President Muhammadu Buhari has pleaded with the Nigerian youths to wait until 2023 before contesting for the presidency. Buhari is seeking reelection for the presidency in the 2019 general elections. Speaking while signing the ‘Not Too Young bill’ into law at the council chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President said the youth will have to wait till after 2019. He said the signing of the bill yesterday was an end to the process, but the beginning of the journey.
Buhari said “but please, can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections?” Among youths who have so far declared interest to contest the 2019 presidency are publisher of online medium, Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore (47); chief executive of Skylar Incorporated, an Information Technology outfit, Ahmed Buhari (39); U.S.-based proprietor of Liberty Approach and Allied Consults (LAAC), Chris Emejuru (35) and founder/chief executive of IPI Solutions Nigeria Limited, Adamu Garba (35).
Others are motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye (46); Nollywood actor, Yul Edochie (36), businessman, Eniola Ojajuni (39); a board member of Scope- America Outreach, James Omosule; Chief Responsibility Officer at Mothergold Consulting, Adesina Fagbenro-Byron; Group Chairman of Quilox Night Club, Shina Peller; Omololu Omotosho (33) and Ibrahim Lajada (34). Also on the list are Ondo State vice chairman of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Thomas-Wilson Ikubese (47); Chief Executive Officer of Global Analytics Consulting Ltd, Tope Fasua (47); Enyinnaya Nnaemeka Nwosu (40), Mathias Tsado (41), and Ibrahim Ladaja (34).
The President, however, expressed concern that the bill did not reduce the age limits for senators and governors as originally proposed by the sponsors. Eligible age for aspirants for members of the State Houses of Assembly will be reduced from 30 to 25 years; the eligible age for aspirants for members of the House of Representatives will be reduced from 30 to 25 years while those for aspirants for Office of the President, will be lowered from 40 to 35 years.
According to the President, “This is an issue that may need to be addressed going forward. These efforts have resulted in the heroic task of enshrining in law, a reduction of the minimum age for elective offices in Nigeria.”
The bill was signed in the presence of youths selected across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The bill, which now becomes Act of the National Assembly, is part of the process to amend the 1999 Constitution and seeks to reduce the minimum age requirement for elective positions in the country. It was first passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives in July 2017. Many state houses of assembly in the country have also passed the bill.
The bill was sponsored by Mr. Tony Nwolu representing Oshodi/Isolo II federal constituency in the National Assembly. Buhari told the youth that they should inculcate the spirit of self-help.
“Those who complete their training should not just sit down and wait for government or private sector to employ them. You should be innovative and turn your hands to any legitimate work that will enable you to sustain yourself.
“You may have noticed already that every one of you represents one of our 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. This is because today is about preparing for the bright future of our country.
“I am confident each one of you will transform Nigeria in your own way – whether through media,agricultural enterprise, economists, engineers, or as lawmakers in your states or at federal level, or as state governors – and even someday, as President.
Why not?” he added. President of the “Not Too Young To Run” group, Mr. Samson Itodo, who spoke on behalf of members and other youths in the country, said President Buhari has written his name in gold by assenting the bill. Itodo, who expressed disappointment with three states of Zamfara, Lagos and Kano for declining to sign the bill in their respective state assemblies, said Nigeria has shown to the rest of the world that it believes in the youth as the future of the country.
He noted that Buhari’s action was also a bold signal that democracy has come to stay in the country. “It is a journey to rebuild the country. We make bold to hold the value of democracy and participated in it,” Itodo said.
He told the President that 53 per cent of Nigeria’s 60 per cent youths in the country’s over 180 million people are holders of voters’ cards. Itodo also called for acceptable internal politics among political parties to give space for the youth with the current development. Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has told President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) not to take credit over ‘Not Too Young to Run Act’ because it was an initiative of a PDP lawmaker.
The party said Buhari has no choice but to assent to the bill because it has passed through the constitutionally required approval of two-thirds of states in the federation. PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday, said the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’ was sponsored by Hon. Tony Nwulu, a PDP members from Lagos State.
“President Buhari had no input whatsoever in the bill; never showed any support or enthusiasm towards the initiative, but had no option than 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 “This development is indeed a democratic victory for the 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 the youth and the PDP,” the party said. PDP noted that the Act is in line with its vision to allow younger Nigerians to actively participate in elective positions in governance at all levels.
“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.”