In a bid to stimulate public discussion around the rational and principles of the Not Too Young To Run Bill, currently under review in Nigeria’s National Assembly, as well as popularize the bill and mobilise citizens support for it, the Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, in collaboration with Action Aid Nigeria, hosted a one-day public debate with youth in Kano on Tuesday.
The debate was part of a series of public debates being organized across Nigeria under the platform of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign.
The Not Too Young To Run Bill is seeking for the alteration of sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Nigerian constitution (as amended) to reduce age qualification for the office of the president (from 40 to 30 years); governor and senator (35 to 30) as well as member of Federal House of Representatives and state house of assembly (30 to 25). The bill also seeks to mainstream independent candidacy in the electoral process.
“The youth constitute over 70% of Nigeria’s population,” said Nura Iro Maaji, a youth activist and lecturer at the School of Continuing Education of Bayero University, Kano who was guest speaker at the public debate. “Therefore, a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria is only possible when the youth are given the opportunity to participate in democratic governance processes by the passage into law of the Not Too Young To Run Bill.”
Maaji, who argued that youth inclusiveness will bring about “fresh ideas and cleanse the political process” urged the youth to seek for more knowledge and information about leadership and governance so as to be adequately prepared for the challenge of leadership.
Kabiru Dakata, a senior programmes officer at the Centre for Information Technology and Development, CITAD, who was also one of the discussants at the public debate said the idea of the debate was to “sensitize and educate young people on the bill (Not Too Young To Run bill); seek for their support to ensure it dominates discussions on social media, our communities and households”.
“Historically speaking,” he argued “Leaders of the first and second republics led this country while they were still very young, moreover, youth of this generation are better informed. And we are not saying the older generations should completely leave the scene – they should accommodate the younger ones to participate in governance process more especially because the older ones have since independence been battling to get things right, unsuccessfully.”
Speaking to African Newspage, Vanessa Edhebru, a programme officer at Action Aid Nigeria blamed the youth’s lack of capacity to actively participate in governance processes on “the type of society we have, where youth do not think they have what it takes to engage in governance and electoral process beyond casting their votes”.
“Youth participation will bring about dynamism, innovation as well as cross-generational partnerships that will take Nigeria where it should be,” she said.
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