By Kauthar Anumba-Khaleel
A coalition of youth groups in Nigeria today stormed the National Assembly, demanding the passage of the “Not Too Young To Run Bill”.
Armed with placards and banners with inscriptions as: “make history by voting ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’, “Nigerian youths demand inclusion in governance”, the protesters commenced their march from the Unity Fountain and stopped at the main entrance of the National Assembly complex, by forcing legislators and staff to use alternative entrances.
The “Not Too Young to Run bill”, seeks the alteration of the sections 131, 106 of the constitution by modifying the age qualification for the offices of the President and Governor and membership of the Senate, House of Representatives and the State Houses of Assembly.
It is bill No. 27 in the report submitted by the Adhoc Committee on Review of the Constitution to be considered by lawmakers between today (Wednesday).
In the report, the age for the qualification to run for the office of the President has been reduced from 40 years to 35 years through the alteration of section 131 (b) of the constitution.
Similarly, the age qualification for being elected into the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly was changed from 30 to 25 years.
Addressing newsmen, Speaker of Youth Assembly of Nigeria, Francis Ezeude, said the march to the National Assembly by a coalition of youth groups was done to ensure that lawmakers adopt the “Not Too Young to Run Bill”.
“What’s happening today is a solidarity walk to make sure that the National Assembly passes, the “Not Too Young To Run Bill”.
“As young people, we believe it’s time for us to take over the mantle of leadership. Our goal is to take the lead in the push for removing the barriers stopping youths from contesting for public office and this bill is one sure way we can remove some of these barriers”, Ezeude stated.
It would be recalled that following reports that the bill was excluded from the report of the joint committee at a retreat in Lagos, Speaker Yakubu Dogara last week, assured that the bill was not removed from the report presented to the National Assembly.
He reaffirmed his support for youth inclusion in politics, adding that the House will live up to the promise it made to do all within its powers to pass the bill.
The assurance came after the chairman of the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on Review of the Constitution, Deputy Speaker, Sulaimon Yussuf Lasun clarified that the bill was not rejected but informed that the name was changed.
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