In a historic move the federal government signed into place on the 31st of May 2018 a bill called the “not too young to run bill”. It became a moment of glory for the youths of Nigeria because something of this magnitude has not been felt in the country before. It brought along with it hope, for finally, something was being done about the state of things in the country. The impact of this move cannot be downplayed. It is a major movement because now, the youths have been given a chance to participate in the decision making of the country. They will now have to be the leaders of tomorrow they’ve long been told they were. they are no longer just participant in the court of public opinion, but eligible electives for position of power in the country.
When you critically look at this bill passage, you find that like all things, it has its advantage and disadvantage. The advantage being that the youths are now given charge to pave a favourable path for their selves and the country. When you look back to before independence, you find that the power players that brought about Nigerians independence and governed Nigeria from then henceforth were the youths. They were in the early thirties and late twenties then and they brought about a major change for their selves up until that moment and this is what we are likening this bill passage to. Youths have fresh eyes on things, you can’t argue that. As one gets older, one looses interest in so many things and becomes a stickler for traditional. You hear things like “this is how it’s done“ from them a lot. Traditions are good but one shouldn’t be limited in thinking to not adapt new methodologies.
The youths in their vibrance, have a lot of energy, and that energy is channelled towards a lot of sectors. They have ideas, that cuts across traditional means of doing things. And its these fresh eyes we solely need in Nigeria, to bring our country around and set us on a path of change.
The signing of the bill was not something that happened in vacuum. It was a rigorous effort spear headed by the executive director of YIAGA Africa Samson Itodo, a human right activist and good governance campaigner. The bill was sponsored in house of representative by Tony Nwulu and in the senate by Abdulaziz Nyako. They fought for this movement because the status quo wasn’t favourable, and it was time to try something new. Before the signing into place of the bill, the age for eligibility of candidacy for the presidential seat was 40, whereas for the governor, senator, house of representative, and state house of assembly were 35, 35, 30 and 30 respectively. Whereas now, it is being reduced to 35, 30, 30, 25 and 25 for presidency, governor, senate, house of rep, house of assembly, respectively.
Why this? Why sign in the not too young to run bill? One may ask. The answer is simple. Innovations and change. The youths of every country stands for change and tomorrow. As displeasing as the news maybe, everyone is slated to die and the old is near death door more than youths. If we do not take these baby steps today and have the youths participate, to gain the experience needed to head a country like Nigeria, then it would be a futile effort and our country would still be grounded.
Granted, politics in Nigeria is very tedious and expensive. It wouldn’t be an easy task for the youths because for them to compete favourably in Nigeria, they will need a substantial amount of money. It’s one thing to be ambitious, another to bring your ambition to life. resources play a major role in Nigeria’s politics and this alone has segregated the older generation from the new generation. They have the resources, the experience, the connections. they wouldn’t bat an eyelid before purchasing a nomination form from their party for 45million naira. But the new generation have that bit to conquer.
The field is not level at this point. The older generation feels that with this bill, they are about to be phased out. they are not seeing the big picture which is that the mantle of power must be passed on eventually. The youths will till tomorrow be the future and if you try to stall the future, it will blow up on your face.
We must start looking ahead. The past is in the past for a reason, we need to forge ahead and utilise this avenue. The youths of Nigeria need to wake up to the new reality. It is not going to be an easy task, a walk in the park adventure, no. it’s going to be a step at a time action. We already have one leg in and with that one leg, we would stomp around till we make enough adjustments for two legs.
We have an opportunity to do something great here, to be in decision making positions, to formulate and implement policies that reflect the aspirations of our generation. Innovations and practical ways to move forward and catch up with the world.
As much as this new bill have hurdles that are numerous, the youths shouldn’t let that defeat them. Rome wasn’t built in a day and something fought for, it’s something worth keeping.
To compete favorably in this “industry”, young people will need to have substantial amount of money, and the will and ability to compete aggressively with the industry leaders that have extensive connections and experience.
“This movement can make an impact but its impact is minimal,” he says. “Their activism may just slip into insignificance if there is no back up electoral reforms or if the monetary aspects of our politics are not resolved.”
Nwangwu emphasises that money plays a huge role in Nigerian politics and successful election campaigns.
“It’s one thing to be ambitious and it’s another thing to have the resources to bring your ambition to life,” he says. “Politics is extremely costly in Nigeria. At every stage in our politics, a whole lot of money is involved both at the local and national level. Most of these youths are recent graduates, unemployed or under-employed. They can barely take three square meals a day. ”
While lowering the age limit is one thing, getting into political office is quite another and will likely be an arduous journey for young Nigerians. Some of the major hurdles they will have to overcome include the high cost of political campaigns and maneuvering “old boy” establishment networks.