President Muhammadu Buhari
The new law will reduce the eligibility age limit of election candidates; and could substantially increase the number of young people participating in the politics of their nation.
Essentially, you had to be 40 years of age to contest for the office of president. With the new Act, you can run for the office of president at age 35.
At age 25, you can run for a House of Representatives seat. You had to be 30 years of age to seek the position of House of Reps, before Buhari’s assent.
For the bill to become law, Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the 1999 Constitution were altered. The bill also scaled through the constitutionally required two thirds of the State House of Assemblies.
Buhari was surrounded by 36 young Nigerians representing the 36 States of the federation, when the bill was signed into law.
Here are 5 noteworthy remarks from the nation’s president during the signing ceremony:
1. Buhari tells young Nigerians to wait till after 2019
During the ceremony, Buhari jokingly asked his young guests to commence their campaigns for elective offices after the expiration of his second term in 2023.
Buhari has declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019. Should he emerge victorious, he’ll be Nigeria’s president till 2023.
“Please can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections?!”, Buhari pleaded with his young campaigners.
2. The senate and governors didn’t reduce their own age limits
The idea was that the age barrier across all elective offices will be reduced in order to hand younger people a fighting chance to take control of their country’s political space.
Oh well, the senate and governorship ranks didn’t exactly buy into the entire script, as Buhari would go on to reveal.
“Surprisingly, the age limits for senators and governors was not reduced, as originally proposed by the sponsors of this bill. This is an issue that may need to be addressed going forward”, Buhari said.
Interesting, isn’t it?
3. Buhari kind of apologized to young people for those ‘lazy youth’ comments
Last month, young Nigerians tore their president apart for implying in his remarks that they are a lazy bunch of people who only wait for money from crude oil.
Well, Buhari flipped the script on young Nigerians during the assent of the bill when he said: “You are undoubtedly Nigeria’s most important resource – not oil, not agriculture, not solid minerals – but you and all of us. Your energy, intelligence and talent are what will drive and develop Nigeria, long after we are all gone.
“This is an opportunity for me to affirm that this administration will continue to do everything in its power to make Nigeria work for you”.
Charm offensive? You bet!
The president didn’t call this an apology for his ‘lazy Nigerian youth’ remarks, but he could well have.
4. There’s still a lot of work ahead for young Nigerians who want to seek elective positions
According to Buhari; “It may be tempting for you to think of this as the end of the journey. However, it is only the beginning; there is still a lot of work ahead, towards ensuring that young people take full advantage of the opportunities provided not only by this constitutional amendment but also through Nigeria’s boundless prospects”.
5. Young people who brought it all to fruition deserve some accolades
The president heaped plaudits on the young campaigners who made it possible to lower the eligibility ages for elective positions.
Buhari said: “Not Too Young To Run Bill” is a landmark piece of legislation that was conceived, championed and accomplished by young Nigerians.
“The coordinators of the Not Too Young To Run movement have now established a formidable legacy – which is that, in our maturing democracy, if you really want to change something in Nigeria, and if you can organise yourselves and work hard towards it – you can achieve it. The outcome of such efforts is this remarkable feat”.
Young Nigerians, you can put the Igwe Tupac skit on repeat now. You paid your dues and in full too.