Finally, it looks Nigerian youths will now get the long-awaited opportunity to be actively involved in the democratic process. There is a bill currently at the House of Representatives which has passed through second reading and seeks to reduce the age of candidacy for those desiring to contest for the office of the president, governor and senate.
The bill, sponsored by Hon. Tony Chinedu Nwulu (Lagos PDP), also makes provision for independent candidacy into the country’s electoral process and seeks to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 constitution.
It seeks reduction for the office of President from 40 to 30 years, office of Governor from 35 to 30 years, the Senate from 35 to 30 years and the federal and state houses of assembly from 30 to 25 years.
In his lead debate, the sponsor of the bill, representing Oshodi-Isolo 11 Federal Constituency of Lagos State, on platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, expressed his beliefs that the initiative will attract more youths in politics and governance, emphasizing that electing young candidates into public offices is an important aspect of democratic practices.
Explaining his position, he gave an example of other countries where age of candidacy requirements were reduced. He stated:
“Countries like the United Kingdom parliament decided in 2006 to lower their age of candidacy from 21 to 18, which had existed since the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695. An age candidacy of 25 would encourage greater youth participation in politics”.
The lawmaker strongly believes that the bill was a demonstration of the growing desire and demand of youths to participate in the democratic process. According to him, “this desire itself could be viewed as a sufficient warrant for young people to participate, demonstrate a willingness to engage and fulfill the burdens of office”.
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Speaking more on independent candidacy Nwulu harped on the need to open up the electoral space in order to widen the democratic processes in the nation’s elections, and above all to encourage young ones to fully participate in all elective offices.
When put to a voice vote by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, members unanimously endorsed the bill, which had trended online days before its official presentation and the bill was referred to the Adhoc Committee for Constitutional Review.