Buhari’s Government Supports Not Too Young To Run – VP Osinbajo

In what can be described as a pending Presidential assent, the Not Too Young to Run bill has again received the endorsement of the Presidency through the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as he stated he is yet to see anyone in the Muhammadu Buhari administration that is opposed to the age reduction bill.

Prof. Osinbajo said this on Wednesday in Abuja while engaging young Nigerians at the One-On-One Mentorship Series 1.0 organized by the Civic Innovation Lab with innovators, entrepreneurs, public servants and members of civil society organizations. The Vice President, at the event also stated that beyond the advocacy for age reduction for contesting for elective offices, young people must be prepared to take up leadership roles in the country.

It can be recalled that the Not Too Young To Run Movement recently raised concerns on the delayed transmission of the age reduction bill to the President for assent. The movement showed its agitation saying, the delay portends danger for aspiring young people ready to leverage on it in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. With just over 300 days to the polls, the lack of assent to the bill will not only impact on the planning of young aspirants but have an impact on the overall intendment of the amendment itself, which is to promote inclusion and grant access to young persons in the elections. We are worried that the whole intendment of the bill may be defeated with this delay in assent.

The Movement in a Press Statement said, “Nigerian youth are ready and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates. We will also like to remind the 8th National Assembly; history is on their side having passed the bill, in the first instance. We, therefore, advise them not to allow any inter-agency tension, procrastination or scheduling challenges affect them from carrying out their responsibilities to citizens especially young people, who constitute 70 percent of their constituents.  It is trite that African best practices encapsulated in the African Union and Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), normative instruments that all amendments to the constitution must be concluded at least 12 months before the elections. The delay in the passage of all these constitutional amendments raises challenges to the integrity of the electoral process. We will continue to reiterate that election is a process, and when amendment processes are tacky, and then the process is already being undermined”.

Convener of the Not Too Young To Young Movement, Executive Director, Samson Itodo has also called on the National Assembly to without any further delay forward the Not Too Young to Run Bill and other constitutional amendment bills to the President for his assent. He added, “we are also utilizing the opportunity to remind the president of the importance in expeditiously signing the bill into law, upon receipt from the National Assembly”, he said

 

Not Too Young To Run Movement raises concern over the Non-Transmission of the Not Too Young To Run bill to the President For Assent

The Not Too Young To Run Movement is concerned about the delayed transmission of the age reduction bill for political office (a.k.a Not Too Young To Run bill) to the President for assent. The movement is agitated as this delay portends danger for aspiring young people ready to leverage it in the forthcoming 2019 general elections. With just over 300 days to the polls, the delay in assent to the bill not only impacts the planning of the aspirants but also has an impact on the overall intendment of the amendment itself, which is to promote inclusion and grant access to young persons in the elections. We worry that the purpose of the bill will be defeated with this delay in assent.

The movement is aware of the position of the law, which makes presidential assent a condition precedent for the passage of bills into law. In particular, section 58 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which provides inter alia ‘the power of the National Assembly to make laws shall be exercised by bills passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and, except as otherwise provided, assented to by the President’.

This provision of the law is backed by several case laws affirming the imperative of presidential assent for constitutional alteration. The judgement of the court in Olisa Agbakoba v. Federal Government and others is instructive as the Federal High Court held that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must assent to any bill altering the provisions of the Constitution before such a bill takes effect. This position was affirmed by the Supreme Court in the case of Ogboru v. Uduaghan.

We are citing the laws to bolster our position and implore the National Assembly to without further delay, forward the amendment bill to the President for assent. The urgency of this action cannot be overemphasized. Nigerian youth are ready and must be part of the 2019 elections not just as voters but as candidates. It is pertinent to remind the 8th National Assembly that history is on their side having passed the bill in the first instance. We therefore advise them not to allow any inter-agency tensions, procrastination or scheduling challenges distract them from carrying out their responsibilities to citizens especially young people, who constitute 70 percent of their constituents.  We must also stress that African best practices encapsulated in the African Union and Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) normative instruments dictate that all amendments to the constitution must be concluded at least 12 months before the elections. The delay in the passage of all these constitutional amendments raises challenges to the integrity of the electoral process. We will continue to reiterate that elections are a process, and when amendment processes are arbitrary, our democracy is threatened.

We call on the National Assembly to without any further delay forward the Not Too Young to Run Bill and other constitutional amendment bills to the President for his assent. We take the opportunity to remind the president of the importance of expeditiously signing the bill into law upon receipt from the National Assembly.

The Not Too Young to Run Movement states that it will resist all attempts to prevent the passage of the Not Too Young To bill into law by any arm of government.  We maintain as a movement that this will be a disservice that the Nigerian youth will not tolerate.

Signed.

Samson Itodo

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

For:

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. The Election Network
  6. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  7. Mind Capital
  8. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  9. Orodata,
  10. Project Pink Blue
  11. Social Good Nigeria
  12. TechHer NG
  13. The YALI Network
  14. Youngstars Foundation
  15. Youth Hub Africa
  16. YIAGA AFRICA
  17. Amplified Radio
  18. Media Insight
  19. Say No Campaign
  20. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  21. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  22. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  23. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  24. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  25. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  26. Exit Lanes, Borno
  27. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  28. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  29. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  30. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  31. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  32. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  33. Development Dynamics, Imo
  34. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  35. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  36. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  37. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  38. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  39. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  40. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  41. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  42. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  43. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  44. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  45. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  46. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  47. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  48. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  49. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba#
  50. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  51. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  52. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  53. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  54. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

 

British High Commissioner Lauds Nigerian Youths Over NotTooYoungToRun Bill

British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright has commended YIAGA Africa and young Nigerians for securing the passage of the Age Reduction Bill, popularly referred to as #NotTooYoungToRun Bill by both National and State Houses of Assembly, as the bill awaits Presidential assent.  Mr. Arkwright stated this during the Commonwealth Big Lunch event on Thursday in Abuja.

The Big Lunch event had participants from various Youth Organizations in attendance, including YIAGA Africa. In his address, Mr. Arkwright noted that, the Big Lunch event in Nigeria is themed around Youths who are important to the Commonwealth as 60 per cent of Commonwealth Nations citizens are below 30 years of age. He further stated that, 40 per cent of the world youth live in Commonwealth countries and 1 Billion people living in Commonwealth countries are under 25 years of age.

The High Commissioner noted that, activities of youth organizations are important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria as well, saying young people in Nigeria face challenges and the good work youth organizations carry out provide solutions to those challenges.

Citing example of efforts of young people in Nigeria, the High Commissioner stated, “For example, you should all be proud of your role to secure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, a reform that has been long overdue and a reform that I and a number of other High Commissioners here present have also supported. I was delighted to meet the YIAGA Group earlier and many congratulations to you for pushing through. I hope that it leads and open the doors to greater youth participation in politics and in policy making throughout Nigeria.”

“Activities of youth organizations are very important to the Commonwealth and matters to the future of Nigeria. British Prime Minister Theresa May have put youth at the heart of the upcoming CommonWealth Summit in London. She has invited youth delegates to address commonwealth leaders in New York in September to talk about their vision for the Commonwealth”, he said

Employment, Climate Change, Peace and Security and how to improve trade amongst Commonwealth countries are all part of the agenda for the September Summit according to the High Commissioner.

“At the Summit before the leaders meet, there will be a Commonwealth Youth Forum that will provide the opportunity for young people of the Commonwealth to build cross-cultural connections and networks to debate the challenges facing young people and to agree youth-led initiatives to influence decision makers and to ensure young people have a voice in their future”, he added

“I encourage you to see the Commonwealth as a network and vehicle for supporting your campaigns on behalf of young people in Nigeria. My team and I look forward to working with you on the commitment that would be made at the London Summit.

The future of Nigeria is the future of young people and if young people are not included in that debate, then the future of Nigeria will but be a happy one. I am confident that it will be a happy one because people like you will be involved and I encourage you to stay involved and get involved in elections and vote. Make sure your votes count”, he concluded.

NotTooYoungToRun: Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari Requesting Assent to Age Reduction Bill

March 14, 2018

Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

State House,

Abuja, Nigeria

Dear President Buhari,

REQUEST FOR ASSENT TO THE AGE REDUCTION BILL (NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN)

We the undersigned members of the Not Too Young To Run movement bring you greetings. The Movement comprises youth and civil society organizations drawn from different parts of the country working to promote youth issues in policy making and constitution review process.

Background

Mr. President, since last year, young Nigerians across divide have worked very hard to advocate for the age reduction bill. This demand is premised on five key points which include: promoting inclusion, deepening intergenerational dialogue and exchange, and enhancing democratic development. Till date, this campaign has gained both national and global attention with the United Nations adopting it as a global campaign for youth inclusion. More recently, the African Union and ECOWAS also endorsed the campaign. The campaign has been launched in several countries in Africa like Kenya, Gambia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Cameroun and Sierra Leone. The Not Too Young to Run movement has become a rallying call for ALL Nigerian youths who are ready to make meaningful contributions to development of our country, and who have recognized that THERE IS NO MEANINGUL REPRESENTATION WITHOUT INCLUSION.

The #NotTooYoungToRun bill is a bill that seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement for running for elective office in Nigeria. The ultimate goal of the bill is to promote increased youth participation in the political process. The movement has engaged with the leadership of the national and state legislatures through visits and personalized letters to all 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives and 991 House of Assembly members; National Days of Action in 24 states and the FCT with an estimated 10,000 people participating; appearances on all the major media stations in Nigeria and the international media; as well as sustained interactive social media conversations.

In July 2017, the Nigerian Senate passed the #NotTooYoungtoRun bill, with an overwhelming majority (86 Senators). The bill was also passed by a large majority (261 members) in the House of Representatives. In February 2018, the age reduction constitution amendment bill popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run bill was passed by 33 out of 36 state Houses of Assembly. The bill is amongst the amendments transmitted to the National Assembly by the State Assembly on March 1, 2018.

With this unprecedented feat, the world looks to you to assent to the constitutional amendment. Once you assent, the bill becomes law making it possible for young people to run for office in 2019 and beyond.

Our Request

It is against this background that the #NotTooYoungToRun movement requests that you assent to the Age Reduction bill as soon as the National Assembly transmits the constitutional amendment bills to you.

For more details, please contact Ibrahim Faruk on 08086988636 or [email protected].

While we look forward to your kind consideration of our request, please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.

Sincerely,

Itodo Samson

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

Signed

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. Dean Initiative
  6. The Election Network
  7. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  8. Mind Capital
  9. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  10. Orodata,
  11. Project Pink Blue
  12. Social Good Nigeria
  13. TechHer NG
  14. The YALI Network
  15. Youngstars Foundation
  16. Youth Hub Africa
  17.  YIAGA Africa
  18. Amplified Radio
  19. Media Insight
  20. Say No Campaign
  21. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  22. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  23. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  24. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  25. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  26. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  27. Exit Lanes, Borno
  28. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  29. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  30. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  31. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  32. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  33. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  34. Development Dynamics, Imo
  35. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  36. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  37. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  38. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  39. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  40. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  41. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  42. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  43. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  44. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  45. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  46. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  47. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  48. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  49. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  50. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
  51. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  52. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  53. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  54. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  55. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria

YIAGA Africa Mourns Senator Wakili

YIAGA Africa received with shock the news of the passing away of the senator representing Bauchi South senatorial district, Senator Ali Wakili, an astute statesman whose immense contribution to nation building will without doubt never be forgotten.

Sen. Wakili before his demise was a partner of YIAGA Africa’s Centre for Legislative Engagement (YIAGA-CLE) through the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation and Social Welfare he presides over. Under his leadership, he’s proven commitment to improving the socio-economic development of the country and sustainable social welfare initiatives.  Late Senator Wakili is also a historian with whom we shared a common interest: the inclusion of marginalized group & the downtrodden in the society.

We will not forget his contribution in providing a legal framework for protection of rights of persons with disabilities from all forms of discrimination and ill-treatment in the society through the Disability Bill before his Committee.

We have indeed lost a people’s champion whose contributions to discourse of national importance in plenary are founded in knowledge and incisive.

We send our condolence to the family of the deceased, the good people of Bauchi state, Nigeria and the 8th National Assembly. May Allah almighty, the merciful, grant you the fortitude to bear this loss and grant his soul eternal rest.

YIAGA-CLE was established with the goal of promoting the development of legislatures in Nigeria and across the African continent. It is common knowledge that through their constitutional responsibilities of oversight, representation and lawmaking, legislatures play a vital role in a functioning democracy.

Any effective legislature in a society guards against executive overreach, ensures no citizen or group is left without a voice in governance, and help transcend transformative laws that drives the development of the nation. YIAGA-CLE has one mission: to strengthen the ability of legislature – at the federal and state levels – to fulfill these roles in compliance with democratic principles and standards.

Since its establishment, YIAGA-CLE has produced high level knowledge on the National Assembly of Nigeria for citizens and legislators, while also providing cutting edge technical assistance and trainings for legislators and their staff. Established with the support of the European Union (EU) and under the EU’s Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) Project, YIAGA-CLE is using innovative research, capacity development and public engagement to bolster the Nigerian Legislature as a pillar of democracy in the country.

 

Signed

Samson Itodo

Executive Director

YIAGA Africa

Anti-Corruption Fight : The Youth Inclusiveness Question By Michael E. Agada

The clamour for youth inclusion in governance in Nigeria is without doubt one of the most visible consistent campaigns over the last decade. The high level of poverty, unemployment and increase in organized crime has further escalated the call for the inclusion of youth in the governance architecture of the world’s most populous black Nation.  Considering the figures which is an estimated population of 68 million Nigerian Youths, it is no brainer why the campaign and insistence for youth inclusion is even more intensified. Overtime, different civil society organizations, clerics, academia, international organizations and even foreign governments have faulted the political set-up of Nigeria in the area of youth inclusiveness. By extension, many proponents of youth inclusiveness have linked the decadence in social values and increased corruption on the inability of the State to cater for its teeming youthful population.

Every year, different political parties and candidates made it a point of campaign to address this structural imbalance that do not favor youth participation beyond campaign organizers, social media influencers, critics and the likes, as they in their own words believed that the time has come to embrace youth participation in full measure. Hence they make promises like 30% affirmative action or whatever sooths their narrative, in their quest to get to power. How far these political parties fare when they get to power or even in their own internal party structure is topic for another day.

While the conversations about youth inclusiveness trended, on and off-line, many political watchers saw that the extent of youth involvement in governance goes beyond the usual on and off line campaign as it’s realization was embedded in the altering of the 1999 constitution to discard the age restriction imposed on young people to contest for political office in the first place. Youth exclusion they believed was a function of an existing order backed by law and considering that it will require the amendments to that clause by the National Assembly, they rechanneled their focus and energy to mount pressure on the National Assembly giving rise to the passage of the age reduction bill, otherwise known as the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. Similarly, applauds also goes to the State assemblies that concurred to this bill. It is now left for the President to join this league of democracy advocates, by assenting to the age reduction bill.

Meanwhile, the role of youth goes beyond participating in politics. The anti-corruption fight is the responsibility of all, especially young people. Understanding youth inclusiveness in the anti-corruption campaign is even made easier when you understand the various implications inherent in shutting out a great percentage of your population from participating in governance. If you do not wonder why a country who has excluded a greater percentage of its youth in governance has been so backwards in terms of developments and societal progress, you’ll definitely not wonder why the anti-corruption fight has been stalled or depreciated despite recorded effort. The youth demographic is simply pointing to the fact that any project embarked upon without the inclusion of the youth is a mirage. This is the story of the Nigerian anti-corruption war.

These ideas got even more buttressed during my experience in the public integrity debate competition for students of tertiary institutions organized by YIAGA Africa. The project is an activity under the #BounceCorruption project of YIAGA and is supported by MacArthur foundation.

During the project lunch in September last year, YIAGA Africa’s Executive Director Mr. Samson Itodo, said the #BounceCorruption project is designed to complement efforts by state and non-state actors in the fight against corruption by promoting zero tolerance for corruption and impunity through effective citizens oversight and mobilization for accountable governance. I believe that Mr. Itodo’s strategy to focus on enlisting citizens in the anti-corruption fight was borne out of the apparent inefficiency of successive governments in this regard, as it was virtually impossible to wage war against corruption without having citizens, particularly youths as frontrunners.

One of the ways YIAGA Africa used in engaging young people is through the Bounce Corruption public integrity debate across Nigerian tertiary institutions. The debate competition is designed for students in selected tertiary institutions across the six geo-political zones of the country. It provides a platform for harnessing youth views into the anti-corruption crusade as well as a platform for propagating the values of integrity, transparency and accountability. Privileged to have been to four (4) zones so far, we have recorded participation of about 15 tertiary institutions with close to a thousand (1000) student participants across the zones. I can confidently conclude that any anti-corruption strategy that seeks to correct the ills of society without adequately outlining the extent of youth involvement may likely not be a success. I saw first-hand the zeal of young people in yearning to attain a society devoid of corruption. I was extremely impressed by their knowledge as they demystified the current anticorruption strategy which was the subject under discuss at the debates.  I saw the need for creating more platforms and directly involving youths in challenges that affects them. To do otherwise will be counterproductive to say the least.

Through its Bounce Corruption project, YIAGA Africa has also engaged youths in areas of developing a software prototype designed to help in the fight against corruption during its recent Hackathon (Hack4Good) contest, as well as mobilizing popular On Air Personalities (#BounceCorruption Radio Ambassadors) across the 36 States of the Federation and FCT on content development for effective messaging on anti-corruption and on effective media engagement on Nigeria’s anti-corruption strategy.

The project currently manages a robust Radio Ambassadors network, committed to promoting accountability and mainstreaming anti-corruption messages into radio programming. The major aim of this initiative is to sensitize and enlighten citizens about the anticorruption campaign thereby enlisting them as advocates of a corrupt free society, hence a reversal of the negative trends that have overshadowed national and international discourse overtime.

But YIAGA Africa can only do that much, as it might be constrained by numerous factors especially finances to aggressively mobilize citizens and youths across board in the anti-corruption movement that seeks to place our country on the annals progressive states and youth inclusiveness. CSOs, NGOs, and government should be encouraged to embrace YIAGA’s ideas in its quest for a robust anticorruption war. Youth inclusiveness, as has been enshrined in YIAGA’s modus operandi is the way forward.

Michael Agada is a Program Assistant for Accountability and Justice with YIAGA Africa. He’s an undaunted believer in Democracy good governance and an advocate of youth participation in governance process. He tweets from @MichaelAgada on twitter. 

Not Too Young To Run: The Demand for a Youth Inclusive Constitution, By Cynthia Mbamalu

The #NotTooYoungToRun movement presents a model for citizens’ activism, because for the first time in my lifetime and that of so many Nigerians, I see Nigerians uniting across religious, ethnic and political lines driven by one goal – youth political inclusion. That to me is the Nigerian spirit that we all need.

Today I march because I want to run for elections in 2019 and if the president for any reason does not give his assent to the age reduction bill it means I will have to wait until the next election cycle and I do not have four years to wait” – Benedicta Ndi Kato

Greatest Nigerian youth, today we ask for inclusion, today we build the future, today we decide our destiny, today we walk towards inclusion, we have worked, National Assembly has passed the Bill, the State Assembly has passed it and now we need the President to Assent…” – Rinsola Abiola

This is the current reality of young Nigerians who have worked in different capacities in their communities and beyond but whose aspiration to run for elective offices have been constantly fettered by the Nigerian Constitution. The Constitution ordinarily should be the guarantee of the protection for the exercise of rights in a democracy. As a people, we should be worried that when we go to the polls during elections, our options of candidates into the various elective offices from the Presidency to the State Assemblies are limited to a select few who are not a true reflection of our population. We should be worried that the face of government at the different levels do not reflect youth or even women, in a country where the youth demography is projected to be over 50 percent of the total population, and the number of women projected to be almost half the population of Nigeria. The NotTooYoungToRun bill, which seeks to reduce the age for contesting elections in the Constitution is an affirmation of the need for a more inclusive political system and electoral process. It is a bill that is long overdue and a youth movement that is much needed in a country where young people are beginning to lose hope in the government and in Nigeria.

So, when we marched on March 14, 2018 from the Unity Fountain to the presidential villa in Abuja, we did not march under the scorching heat of the sun because we wanted to participate in a fun activity. We marched because we need the presidential assent for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill to become law; it is long past the time for complacency over the outright injustice in a system that has constantly excluded the youth from government. Considering that in the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, only 11 percent were youth candidates for the Senate, 10 percent for governorship, 18 percent for the House of Representatives, 29 percent for the State Houses of Assembly election, with almost half of that number not qualified to run for the election based on the age criteria in the Constitution. We marched because we believe that inclusion is a fundamental principle in a democracy. We marched because each time we see the news and reports highlighting the increase in the rate of youth unemployment and poverty, we are shaken and worried about the threat that this poses to national development. We marched because Nigeria is ours and we are major stakeholders in the development of our democracy and sustainable development in Nigeria. For the movement, we recognise that the process of socio-political transformation begins with the Constitution.

The Constitution-making process in modern times provides an opportunity for socio-political transformation, especially to the extent to which the process incorporates citizens’ participation. More countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, are adopting a more participatory process in their constitution making processes, which have produced more progressive constitutional guarantees, ranging from constitutionalising more social economic rights, the rights of women and youth to the adoption of affirmative action for the promotion of political inclusion for women and youth. The Kenyan Constitution, for instance, adopts conscious and targeted steps to ensure youth political inclusion by aligning the voting age with the eligibility age for contesting election at 18 years, with special seats reserved for the youth in the national assembly, Senate and the county assembly. Within the West African region, our close neighbour and sister country, Ghana, guarantees the rights of young people in the country to run for election into their parliament from 21 years old. In Gambia, young people can run for the legislative seat from 21 years old, and 30 years for the presidency; in Liberia young people from the age of 25 years can run for election into the House of Representative, at 30 years for the Senate seat and at 35 for the office of the president. This has enabled more youth candidates to emerge as elected officials from the recently concluded elections in the mentioned countries.

This time around, both the national and international interests in the constitution amendment process in Nigeria was sparked and has been sustained by the enthusiasm of young people leading the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign and engaging the constitutional amendment process. March 14, 2018 was the second time we marched for this bill and each time I see hope and a future for our democracy.

Notably, there are challenges to youth candidacy in Nigeria and even Africa beyond age limitation, ranging from money politics to the lack of internal party democracy. However, we have tested our ability to organise and we have seen the power in our organising democratically based ideologies, and in our number. The NotTooYoungToRun movement models it all. Convened by YIAGA Africa with a Strategy Team at the federal level, State coordinators for each of the 36 States and leadership teams consisting of young people from the local government areas in each State, the movement began with simple forms of advocacy. We learnt to leverage on both social media and traditional media, engage our respective communities, write as many letters as possible, with advocacy visits to both federal and State lawmakers, tracking the progression of the bill and constantly sharing information on the bill with the public, making the necessary phone calls and text messaging, engaging political, traditional and religious institutions and calling on the support of international friends. The Age Reduction Bill, which was introduced as a private member’s bill in the House of Representative by Honourable Tony Nwulu and in the Senate by Senator Abdulaziz Nyako became a subject of national discourse with young people at the different levels, leading the conversation on youth inclusion and why young people must engage the Constitution amendment process. The Age Reduction Bill was successfully passed by the National Assembly and 35 State Assemblies and is currently at the stage of presidential assent. As one of the leading movements emerging from Nigeria and connecting young people in Africa and beyond, NotTooYoungToRun is a proof that we are in the era of the youth, where the power for socio-political transformation begins with young people setting the political agenda and influencing political behaviour.

Perhaps we should consider the fact that our constitution-making process in Nigeria has over the years remained somewhat closed and elitist, with the decision-making process driven by the law makers in the National Assembly and State Houses of Assemblies, at least since our transition to democracy. There is no doubt that at different points in our democratisation journey, issues have been raised questioning the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as a true representation of the will of the people. As such, almost every Assembly has made attempts to amend sections of the Constitution with some being successful and others failing, like the 2012 constitution-making process, which failed at the stage of the presidential assent. This time around, both the national and international interests in the constitution amendment process in Nigeria was sparked and has been sustained by the enthusiasm of young people leading the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign and engaging the constitutional amendment process. March 14, 2018 was the second time we marched for this bill and each time I see hope and a future for our democracy.

The #NotTooYoungToRun movement presents a model for citizens’ activism, because for the first time in my lifetime and that of so many Nigerians, I see Nigerians uniting across religious, ethnic and political lines driven by one goal – youth political inclusion. That to me is the Nigerian spirit that we all need. The youth, as it is, have learnt to unite in our demand for accountable leadership and national development. As citizens, we have a responsibility to ensure that we build a Nigeria that works for all citizens and that our democracy does not become the dictatorship of a majority that is not a true representation of our vast population. The only option we have is to engage until we achieve results because as young Nigerians we have a higher stake. #NotTooYoungToRun is history being made.

Cynthia Mbamalu is a devoted Human Rights and Gender advocate with special interest in Constitution-Building and Elections. She is the Program Manager of YIAGA Africa, and can be reached via [email protected] She tweets @DCynthiaM

Youths March to Presidential Villa for Buhari’s assent to Not Too Young To Run Bill

Thousands of Nigerian youths gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for the Not Too Young to Run National Day of Action march to solicit President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young to Run bill. The bill which gained majority support from the National Assembly and 35 State Houses of Assembly seeks to reduce the age qualification for running for elective office in Nigeria.

Young Nigerians, from all walks of life, representing different youth groups across Geo-political zones, from Rivers, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ekiti, Imo, Plateau, Bornu, Kaduna, Enugu, etc, turned out in their numbers to demand for a youth inclusive government.

NotYoungToRun March to Aso Villa to demand assent to age reduction bill

While calling on President Buhari to sign the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the group reminded President Buhari about his campaign promises to Nigerian youths in 2015. Young people at the march held up signs that read “Youth Inclusion is Youth Development” “Nothing for Us Without Us” as they made their way peacefully to Aso Villa.

The group also called on the National Assembly to finalize the harmonization of the constitutional amendment bills, which was submitted to them by the State Assemblies more than a week ago and transmit the amendment bills to the President for his assent.  The group stressed that failure to transmit the Not Too Young to Run bill to President Buhari for his timely assent will disenfranchise young Nigerians who are eagerly waiting for the outcome of the bill to commence their campaign process.

National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

Speaking at the rally, Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo called on young Nigerians nationwide to go out en-masse to collect their permanent voter’s card so that they can fully participate in the electoral process in 2019.

At about 3:30pm the Minister for Aviation Mr. Hadi Sirika came out from the Federal Executive Council meeting to address the youths who had been waiting patiently irrespective of the scorching heat of the sun. While speaking on behalf of the President, Mr. Sirika assured Nigerian youths that President Buhari will assent to the bill; “The President is a democrat, and if Nigerians have spoken he has no choice but to do the needful” he said. Mr. Sirika collected the letter addressed to the president and signed an acknowledgement copy as evidence of collection.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika signing acknowledgement copy of letter to President Buhari

Minister of State for Aviation Senator Hadi Sirika signing the #NotTooYoungToRun letter of demand on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari

The group wishes to unequivocally state that the news on some media platforms, reporting that today’s march, was a protest to President Buhari’s Rejection of Electoral Act Amendment Bill is false. The Group wishes to reiterate that the purpose of the #NotTooYoungtoRun National Day of Action peaceful march was to call on the National Assembly to expedite action and transmit the constitutional amendment bill to reduce the age for elective office in Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari’s and for the President to assent to the bill in a timely manner.

Not Too Young To Run Movement National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

The Not Too Young To Run movement further extends its gratitude to every single person who participated in this peaceful march. We thank the members of the media for their support and coverage of the peaceful rally. Today young people braced the scorching sun to demonstrate their support for the Not Too Young to Run Bill. They showed courage, resilience and enthusiasm for our democracy.

Nigerian Youths led a Peaceful March to Seek President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young To Run Bill

Thousands of Nigerian youths gathered at the Unity Fountain in Abuja for the Not Too Young to Run National Day of Action march to solicit President Buhari’s assent for the Not Too Young to Run bill. The bill has gained majority support from 35 State Houses of Assembly seeks to reduce the age qualification for running for elective office in Nigeria.

Young Nigerians, from all walks of life, representing different youth groups across geo-political zones, from Rivers, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Katsina, Kogi, Ekiti, Imo, Plateau, Bornu, Kaduna, Enugu, etc, turned out in their numbers to demand for a youth inclusive government.

While calling on President Buhari to sign the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the group reminded President Buhari about his campaign promises to Nigerian youths in 2015. Young people at the march held up signs that read “Youth Inclusion is Youth Development” “Nothing for Us Without Us” as they made their way peacefully to Aso Villa.

Not Too Young To Run Movement National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

The group also called on the National Assembly to finalize harmonization of the constitutional amendment bills, which was submitted to them by the states more than a week ago and transmit the amendment bills to the President for his assent.  The group stressed that failure to transmit the Not Too Young to Run bill to President Buhari for his timely accent will disenfranchise young Nigerians who are eagerly waiting for the outcome of the bill to commence their campaign process.

Speaking at the rally, Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo called on young Nigerians nationwide to go out en masses to collect their permanent voter cards so that they can fully participate in the electoral process in 2019.

At about 3:30pm the Minister for Aviation Mr. Hadi Sirika came out from the Federal Executive Council meeting to address the youths who had been waiting patiently irrespective of the scorching heat of the sun. While speaking on behalf of the President, Mr. Sirika assured Nigerian youths that President Buhari will assent to the bill; “The President is a democrat, and if Nigerians have spoken he has no choice but to do the needful” he said. Mr. Sirika collected the letter addressed to the president and signed an acknowledgement copy as evidence of collection.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika signing acknowledgement copy of letter to President Buhari

The group wishes to unequivocally state that the news on some media platforms, reporting that yesterday’s (14th March 2017) march, was a protest to President Buhari’s Rejection of Electoral Act Amendment Bill is false. The Group wish to reiterate that the purpose of the #NotTooYoungtoRun National Day of Action peaceful march was to call on the National Assembly to expedite action and transmit the constitutional amendment bill to reduce the age for elective office in Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari’s and for the President to accent to the bill in a timely manner.

This remain the sole purpose of this march and as a movement our commitment is to advocate for the speedy passage of the #NotTooYoungTooRun Bill which seeks to amend the Constitution and not the Electoral Act.

The Not Too Young To Run movement further extends its  gratitude to every single person who participated in this peaceful march. We thank the members of the media for their support and coverage of the peaceful rally. Today young people braced the scorching sun to demonstrate their support for the Not Too Young to Run Bill. They showed courage, resilience and enthusiasm for our democracy.

Press Statement by NotTooYoungToRun Movement on National Day of Action on Presidential Assent

The Not Too Young To Run movement is a embarking on a march to the Presidential Villa to demand that President Muhammadu Buhari assents to the Age Reduction Bill popularly known as Not Too Young To Run as soon as the constitutional amendment bills are transmitted to the President for assent. This is part of the campaign’s strategy of mobilizing citizens especially young people to participate in constitution building and most importantly demand quality representation from elected leaders.

About the Age Reduction Bill (Not Too Young To Run)

The Not Too Young To Run bill is a bill that seeks to reduce the age for running for elective offices in Nigeria. The constitutional amendment bill promotes youth inclusion in politics, enhances democratic development and deepens intergenerational dialogue. The bill as passed by the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly reduces the age criteria for the office of the President from 40 to 35; House of Representatives from 30 years to 25 years and State House of Assembly from 30 years to 25 years. Contrary to the demand of the movement, the National Assembly retained the age for the Governor and Senate at the current 35 years.

In July 2017, the Nigerian Senate passed the #NotTooYoungtoRun bill, with an overwhelming majority (86 Senators). The bill was also passed by a large majority (261 members) in the House of Representatives. In February 2018, the age reduction constitution amendment bill popularly known as the Not Too Young To Run bill was passed by 33 out of 36 state Houses of Assembly. The bill is amongst the amendments transmitted to the National Assembly by the State Assembly on March 1, 2018.

The movement has engaged with the leadership of the national and state legislatures through visits and personalized letters to all 109 Senators, 360 members of the House of Representatives and 991 House of Assembly members; National Days of Action in 24 states and the FCT with an estimated 10,000 people participating; appearances on all the major media stations in Nigeria and the international media; as well as sustained interactive social media conversations. The campaign has gained both national and global attention with the United Nations adopting it as a global campaign for youth inclusion. More recently, the African Union and ECOWAS also endorsed the campaign. The campaign has been launched in been launched in several countries in Africa like Kenya, Gambia, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Cameroun and Sierra Leone.

DEMANDS

We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the constitutional amendment bill especially the Age Reduction bill as soon as the bills are transmitted to him for assent.

  1. We call on the National Assembly to transmit the constitutional amendments to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent within one week.

In addition, we call on political parties to uphold the principles of internal democracy, transparency and accountability. With the passage of Not Too Young To Run, we expect more youth with capacity and integrity will seek to political office. Whilst noting that the parties provide a platform for the actualization of political aspirations, we also note that parties can undermine and jeopardize youth candidacy at elections. It is therefore important to reiterate the need for political parties to ensure internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of youth candidates in the 2019 elections.

For the records, this demand is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process.

Signed

Itodo Samson

Convener, Not Too Young To Run movement

 

FOR

  1. Activista
  2. Abuja Global Shapers
  3. African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
  4. Connected Development [CODE]
  5. Dean Initiative
  6. The Election Network
  7. League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
  8. Mind Capital
  9. The Nigerian Youth Parliament
  10. Orodata,
  11. Project Pink Blue
  12. Social Good Nigeria
  13. TechHer NG
  14. The YALI Network
  15. Youngstars Foundation
  16. Youth Hub Africa
  17.  YIAGA AFRICA
  18. Amplified Radio
  19. Media Insight
  20. Say No Campaign
  21. Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
  22. Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
  23. Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
  24. Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
  25. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
  26. The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
  27. Exit Lanes, Borno
  28. After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
  29. DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
  30. Connected Advocacy, Edo
  31. Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
  32. New Century Initiative, Enugu
  33. Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
  34. Development Dynamics, Imo
  35. Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
  36. One Project Afrika. Kaduna
  37. Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
  38. Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
  39. Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
  40. Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
  41. Brain Builders International, Kwara
  42. Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
  43. Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
  44. Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
  45. Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
  46. Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
  47. Young Care Initiative, Oyo
  48. Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
  49. Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
  50. Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
  51. North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
  52. Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
  53. Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
  54. National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
  55. Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria