The atmosphere was colorful as the Not Too Young To Run movement, Strategy team, Coordinators, Partners, political bigwigs, young aspirants, lawmakers, most notably the speaker of House of Representatives Hon. Yakubu Dogara turned up to celebrate the success of the Not Too Young To Run campaign as the movement launches the Ready To Run. The next phase of the movement tagged Ready To Run is aimed to inspire young people to run for political office while giving necessary technical support to ensure young people with capacity, win elections.
In the spirit and ambience of celebration, #Nottoyoungtorun Strategic Team, media, international and local partners and others who have directly and indirectly contributed to the successful advocacy milestone of #Nottooyoungtorun Act were all celebrated at the Not Too Young To Run Celebration Conference Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre, yesterday in Abuja.
One can safely say that yesterday June 28 2018, the youth in Nigeria achieved another feat and used the opportunity to stamp their feet on the ground and once more emphasize their readiness to not only contest but win some available political spaces come 2019.
The celebration was filled with enthusiasm and hope for the young people in Nigeria, who for once felt considered and relevant in the scheme of political in Nigeria with the signing into law of the age reduction bill by President Muhammadu Buhari, after the Senate and House of Representatives had voted in favour of the bill.
Speaking during the Celebration Conference, Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Honourable Yakubu Dogara, said the history of democracy globally had been about constant struggle between the included and the excluded. Dogara said majority of people who had been excluded in politics in Nigeria were youths.
He said: “Though the age reduction bill had been signed, it is only the legal barrier that was removed, but there are other barriers left to be conquered in terms of bringing the youth into positions of leadership.
“Barriers like that of economic, institutional and capacity building have to be pulled down for youths who will occupy these offices and without combating these challenges, the benefits of the bill will not be reaped. “Especially removing the financial barriers that stand against youths at the party levels’’, he said.
Dogara urged youths to also build their capacity to run for elective positions ahead of the 2019 elections.
Also giving his remark, President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Legislative Matters and Strategy, Kingsley Amaku, said that Nigerian youths were the architect of democracy.
Saraki congratulated the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement for contributing to getting the bill signed by the president, adding that it was signed to prepare ground for massive youth election in 2019 poll.
He said that political power should not be left in the hands of a few but should be held in trust, with as many who are able to serve in honesty and in truth including the youth.
Saraki said: “Nigeria cannot do without the energy and innovation of our young people, the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Law reflects the energy possessed by the youth, which shows that today not tomorrow belongs to the youth.
“But it’s not an end to itself, it is the beginning of a journey, because the Not-Too-Young-To-Run movement is not a political party.”
Convener of the movement and Executive Director of YIAGA Africa Samson Itodo said, ‘the successful advocacy milestone of Not Too Young To Run has been a collective and collaborative efforts towards raising young and vibrant leadership that would strategically take our dear country out of the woods’.
Itodo further stated that this celebration conference becomes essential in order celebrate our collective impacts and that of those leaders whom had given unwavering support from the outset of the campaign such as Professor Attahiru Jega, Speaker of the House Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and all the 33 states House of Assemblies that supported the Bills. They have all be in inducted into the Hall of Fame”.
“For so long ours has been a country where young people are not seen as an asset to the national and socio-economic growth and development, ours has been a country that do not perceive younger generation as partner in progress. Ours has been a country that it was almost a crime to be a citizen of this nation” he affirmed.
He added that with #Nottooyountorun Act in place the myriads of challenges and issues of inequality that have hindered full participation young persons in governance would gradually become a thing of the past.
Three panel sessions were held at the conference to intensify conversations around Nigeria’s nascent democratic system of governance and role of young people in its sustainability.