A coalition of youth groups today staged a protest in front of the National Assembly, demanding the immediate passage of the bill “Not so young to run”. The protesters who gathered in their hundreds at the Unity Fountain, Abuja, before proceeding to the National Assembly, said they only had the intention of speaking with the lawmakers.
The bill which is a constitutional amendment, seeks to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 Constitution. If passed, the bill will reduce the age qualification for those aspiring to office of president from 40 to 30 years, office of governor from 35 to 30 years, senate from 35 to 30 years and the federal and state houses of assemblies from 30 to 25 years.
Addressing the protesters at the Unity Fountain, former chairman human rights commission, Chidi Odinkalu, said the bill was an important one that Nigeria cannot afford to lose.
“We are in a country with the median age of 19 but people who want to save Nigeria’s unity have an average age of over 60. Who are they saving the country for? People are being invited across the country as leaders of thought, who are they thinking for? At our age, average age of the Nigerian youth given our life expectancy, we are already in the middle age and life expectancy for women is 51 and falling, for men, it’s 49 and falling. So, if you are in your 20s, you are in your middle age. People like me are already in injury time and people like us should be seeking to replace ourselves with the kind of people who are leading the Not Too Young to Run movement. Because we are going to die and life expectancy is short, we must replace ourselves with better people, when I look at young Nigerians I’m reassured that this country has a future. That is one promising thing about us. So, today let us go and take the national assembly asunder if we must. We need to create inconvenience, if we don’t create inconvenience, nobody knows you are demonstrating. Let us cause some inconvenience, let Nigerians know young people matter. For the sake of this country, we need young people in office, we need young people in power, we need young people taking control”he said