Young people in Nigeria have always demanded inclusion in the political space, perpetually dealing with ageism even in grassroot-level politics. It’s a reality culturally steeped in the ideology that young people aren’t wizened enough to hold political offices and positions; that they haven’t lived enough to participate, engage, and contribute to national development and progress. This discrimination plays out beyond the political landscape. That said, the Not Too Young Bill, otherwise called the Age Reduction Bill, felt like a dawning hope for youth engagement in Nigerian politics. So much so that it galvanized into the #NotTooYoungToRun hashtag on Twitter and mobilized youth-oriented groups from a laden stupor of inactivity.
For emphasis, the Not Too Young To Run Bill seeks to reduce the age for elective offices in politics, and thus favourably swinging towards the youth demographic. However, though, the Bill has been wrangled in alleged reports of rejection and delays, hovering in the corridors of the Senate. Yesterday, on a bright side, the Nigerian Senate passed the Not Too Young To Run Bill. After an electronic vote, 86 Senators showed their support, while 10 were against it. One lawmaker abstained.
What this means is that young people can contest for President at the age of 35 and Governor or Senators at the age of 30. It is a change from the initial 40 and 35 years limit respectively, which was mandated by the Constitution.The Bill also stipulates that 25-year-old people, can now legislate in the National and State Assemblies across the country. As much as this is good for politics in Nigeria, it reeks of a timely and calculated political move. I’m not the hugest follower of Nigerian politics, but I’m finding it hard to shake off the feeling that there’s more to the passage of the Not Too Young To Run Bill that meets the eye. There are other Bills that have been decaying on the desks of Nigerian Senate; the Gender Equality Bill, for example, which was rejected and squashed last year and drew a robust disapproving reaction from Nigerians. Why has this Bill not been passed yet? Why does it seem like it will never be passed? Perhaps I’m unnecessarily cynical of the government. Perhaps not. Only time will tell.
by Bernard Dayo