Ladies and gentlemen of the Press.
We welcome you to this press conference organized by the leadership of the Not Too Young To Run movement on the signing into law of the age reduction bill by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. The Not Too Young To Run movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times. The movement 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.
On May 21, 2018, the movement gave President Buhari an 8-day ultimatum to assent to the Not Too Young To Run Bill. The movement requested the president to bequeath to Nigerian youths a memorable democracy gift by assenting to the Not Too Young To Run Bill. In his Democracy Day address, the President announced his decision to assent to assent to the bill. On May 31st 2018, Mr. President signed the bill into law in the presence of the leadership of the movement and young people drawn from 36 states of the federation.
This is a pivotal moment in history of our democracy. The signing into law of the Not Too Young To Run Bill is an affirmation of our belief in inclusive democracy. Unarguably, increased youth participation in politics is an indicator of democratic development. We are therefore taking intentional steps as a nation to harness the demographic dividend by expanding the political space for increased youth participation. The campaign has shown that democracy thrives when citizens assert their sovereignty through effective, strategic and systematic engagement with democratic institutions.
The journey to the historic passage/assent to the bill began two years ago, on May 26, 2016, when the Not Too Young To Run Bill to reduce the constitutional age requirement for running for elective office in Nigeria, was first read on the floor of House of Representatives. On 26 July 2017, the Nigeria Senate passed the bill with an overwhelming majority (86 -10). The Bill was passed, again by a large majority (261 – 23), in the House of Representatives on 27 July, 2017.
The journey continued to the state Houses of Assembly, recording acceptance and affirmation from one state legislature to the next, including the historic second vote by the Taraba State House of Assembly, who changed her previous No to a Yes vote. The Bill secured a YES vote from 33 state Houses of Assembly, eight more than constitutionally required. Lagos, Kano and Zamfara abstained from voting, and have been inducted in our Hall of Shame for disregarding the yearnings of the youth they represent.
The movement 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 movement appreciates President Buhari for assenting to this bill. The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo is recognized and appreciated for his solidarity and support for the campaign. We also thank specially, the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives who demonstrated unparalleled belief in youth leadership and inclusive politics throughout the campaign. To the 86 Senators and 261 Honorable Members who said yes to the Bill, thank you for writing your names in gold, and putting Nigeria on the global map as a country fully invested in meeting the needs of its youth. It is worthy to note that the UN, ECOWAS, and the AU have adopted this Bill, and other countries on the continent have been inspired to seek reduction in age for political participation.
We thank the leadership and members of the 33 state assemblies that voted in support of the bill. We must specifically thank Hon. Tony Nwulu and Senator Abdul-aziz Nyako for sponsoring this bill at the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. The movement has been inspired and motivated by your commitment to youth development, transformative politics and democratic renewal.
Another category of people to thank are the members of the strategy team and state/LGA coordinators of the Not Too Young To Run movement, without whom the vision for a reduction in the age for political participation would have remained a pipe dream. We thank the international community and development partners for supporting this movement in this journey. Special thanks to civil society, media and youth groups for their solidarity and support. Lastly, we thank the Nigerian youth for demonstrating leadership and patriotism in the defence of our democracy through their participation in the campaign.
We acknowledge that the signing of this Bill marks the beginning of a new era in the politics of our great nation, enhancing democratic development, deepen intergenerational dialogue and learning, reduce political violence and instability, enhance competitive politics, but above all, fulfil an essential requirement of democracy which is to facilitate the implementation of the fundamental right of political participation for Nigeria’s youth, which form 65% of the population and 53% of registered voter.
The bill as assented by the President reduces the age qualification for the office of the president from 40 to 35; House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25. The age qualification for Governor and Senate was retained at 35 years contrary to the demands of the Nigerian people. The movement maintains that the retention of the 35 years for both Governor and Senate positions is unfortunate and disappointing. The National Assembly should revisit its vote on the age qualification for both offices.
As we prepare for the 2019 general elections the imperative for youth inclusion especially as candidates for all elective positions is not a matter for debate but an imperative. The movement would like to place the following on record;
- The 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their power not only as voters or campaign merchants but also as qualified electoral candidates. The movement is therefore committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its Ready To Run initiative and other interventions aimed at promoting youth candidacy in the next elections.
- Data from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicates that about 52% of registered voters are young people between the ages 18 – 35 years. The movement will continue to mobilize more young people across the country to participate in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise, collect their Permanent Voter Card (PVC) and turn out to vote in all elections. The vision of this movement can only be achieved if young people come out to vote in 2019.
- To the political class – If you want the youth vote, reserve tickets for youth aspirants; uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.
The movement notes that signing this bill into law is not sufficient to guarantee youth representation in political office. It will require reducing the cost of politics, democratic primaries within political parties, affirmative action/quotas and most importantly credible and peaceful elections. The movement therefore makes the following demands;
- The National Assembly should review its vote on the age qualification for the Senate and Governors. This review should be in tandem with the proposal by the movement (President – 30 years, Governor – 30 years and Senate – 30 years)
- Political parties should reserve 50% of party tickets for capable, competent, and morally upright youth aspirants across all elections in 2019;
- Expedite action on assenting to electoral reform bills bordering on limiting campaign expenditure and cost of securing party nomination;
- Uphold the principles of transparency, democracy and accountability in party primaries.
To celebrate this landmark achievement, the movement will be hosting a Not Too Young To Run Celebration Conference on June 28, 2018 in Abuja. The Celebration Conference is convened to celebrate effective activism and underscore the inestimable value of citizens-state engagement in enhancing the quality of electoral politics in Nigeria. The conference is also hosted against the upsurge of new questions on the nature and quality of public leadership Nigeria requires to make sustainable progress. At the center of this debate is the question on whether young people possess the competencies for public leadership or the economic power to navigate the tide of Nigeria’s expensive political process. Leaders from political society, civil society, state institutions, academia, international community and media will converge to shape an agenda for democracy, governance and political representation in the pre and post 2019 era. The Vice President, Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives will be delivering keynote addresses and participate in an intergernerational dialogue for democracy at the conference.
We cannot conclude without restating our commitment to inclusive politics, transformative leadership and democratic governance. The movement will retain its identity as a non-partisan and citizen-led movement of citizens dedicated to the defence of democracy and nation building. The movement will not be transiting into a political party.
We enjoin youth across the country to take up the challenge to serve our great country Nigeria.
One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN
Our Shared Value, Our Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN
- Abuja Global Shapers
- African Youth Initiative on Population, Health & Development (AfrYPoD)
- Connected Development [CODE]
- The Election Network
- League of Progressive Ambassadors of Nigeria (LEPAN)
- Mind Capital
- The Nigerian Youth Parliament
- Project Pink Blue
- Social Good Nigeria
- TechHer NG
- The YALI Network
- Youngstars Foundation
- Youth Hub Africa
- YIAGA Africa
- Amplified Radio
- Media Insight
- Say No Campaign
- Vision Alive Foundation, Abia
- Youth Initiative for Better Change, Adamawa
- Young Activists Initiative Nigeria, Akwa Ibom
- Integrity Youth Development Initiative, Anambra
- Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, Bayelsa
- The Bridge Youth Development Foundation, Benue
- Exit Lanes, Borno
- After School Centre for Career Development, Cross River
- DIG Foundation, Ebonyi
- Connected Advocacy, Edo
- Inspiration Care Centre, Ekiti
- New Century Initiative, Enugu
- Dandalin Matasa Initiative for Rapid Development, Gombe
- Development Dynamics, Imo
- Centre for Environmental Research and Development, Jigawa
- One Project Afrika. Kaduna
- Centre for Advocacy in Gender and Social Inclusion, Kano
- Youth Entrepreneurship Support Hub, Katsina
- Youth Consensus Forum, Kebbi
- Youth Emancipation for the Society (ProjectYES), Kogi
- Brain Builders International, Kwara
- Grassroots Mobilization Initiative, Nasarawa
- Nigerian Young Professionals Forum, Niger
- Youth Future Savers Initiatives, Ogun
- Youth Aglow Initiative, Ondo
- Kimpact Development Initiative, Osun
- Young Care Initiative, Oyo
- Centre for Youth Participation Advocacy, Plateau
- Golden Star Development Initiative, Sokoto
- Rural Integrated Development Initiative, Taraba
- North East Youth Initiative Forum, Yobe
- Golden Stars Development Initiative, Zamfara
- Modaville Centre for Development, Lagos
- National Organization for Citizens Orientation (NOCO), Rivers State.
- Nigerian Youth Action (NYA), Rivers State, Nigeria