When President Muhammadu Buhari
“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 announced.
The framers of the bill were looking forward to the following amendments to the nation’s constitution: reduce the age eligibility for president from 40 to 30; that of the position of governor should be reduced from 35 to 30; that of senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.
Except that when the president got hold of the bill, there was no reduction in the age eligibility limits for senators and governors. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out why.
The explanation from a national assembly aide that “the rationale is that a senator, the senate president, and the president have to be the same age — because in the event that the president and the VP are unable to serve, the senate president takes over as president pro tempore”, is a load of baloney and hogwash all at once.
The truth is, there is no rational justification for the senatorial and governorship class refusing to reduce age limit for the benefit of younger Nigerians who want their jobs.
The only explanation that comes to mind is that these senators and governors regard inclusion of more young people into the political playing field as a threat of some kind; that these senators and governors are sore afraid of losing their jobs to a more idealistic, innovative and progressive younger generation.
Well, those fears are not entirely unfounded. In which case we can say that the senate and governorship class have just confirmed widespread perception that they are an insecure, self-serving, over paid and over-pampered lot who are daily looking over their shoulders to preserve the perks of their offices, jumbo monthly allowances and security votes.
At 75 years of age, Buhari should have been the one losing sleep over the wider implications of the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ legislation.
Like CNN put it after the president assented to the bill: “There had been some speculation that the 75-year-old president who announced plans to seek re-election in 2019, may delay signing the law to improve his chances of regaining power”. But the one arm of government that emerged from all of this smelling of roses has to be the Buhari led executive.
The senate has a chance to insert age reductions for the two remaining positions before the Act is gazetted Here is hoping that a political class that has just shown how sore afraid it is of change, doesn’t let a second opportunity slip by.