It is indeed a heartwarming moment for Nigerian youths in the political history of our fatherland. A new hope awaits us, our faiths rekindled, the story of a fulfilling Nigeria gets closer to its full realization. I’m indeed proud to be a part of this generation.
Today, the much exalted bill tagged the #NotTooYoungToRun got signed into law by His Excellency, President Muhammad Buhari who had earlier revealed his intent during his Democracy Day broadcast on Tuesday, May 29, that he would sign the bill soon.
For the uninitiated, the bill seeks to reduce the age requirement for those interested in running for elective positions in the country. Consequently, the bill will alter Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), as it seeks to reduce the age of qualification for the office of the President from 40 to 35 years; Governor from 35 to 30 years; Senate from 35 to 30 years; House of Reps from 30 to 25 years; and the House of Assembly from 30 to 25 years.
Undoubtedly, the youths occupy a large chunk of the country’s population. Statistically, Nigeria’s total population in 2016 was projected to be 193,392,517 (NpopC July 2017). Youth population was estimated at 61,306,413 or 31.7% of the total population. This is perhaps considered as the highest percentage of youths in a single country.
The Nigerian youths are faced with a number of problems, ranging from Poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, health issues such as STDs, marginalization and exclusion from the political and economic realm. Against the practice in other nations of the world, there is a dire shortage of young persons in the political landscape of the county. These are either orchestrated by lack of empowerment and disinterested perspective they have towards to the polity.
This conspicuously negates the belief held by the earliest nationalists. The Enahoros, Awolowos, Ahmadu Bellos, Azikiwes and a host of others who were in their thirties sought a Nigeria where young persons hold the mantle of leadership and govern efficiently. The said nationalists, were initially involved in youth activism, liberation
movements and later the struggle for the country’s independence.
Over the years, this ideology had gradually faded away, the Nigerian youth of today is concerned about amassing wealth, getting rich overnight, riding expensive cars and flaunting their ill-gotten fortune on social media. In pursuant to these, they involve in robbery, internet fraud, kidnapping, drug peddling and other illicit businesses.
I’m of the strong opinion that the Nigerian youth isn’t a criminal or societal miscreant but a goal-driven, patriotic, courageous, energetic, motivated and innovative one whose potentials needs to be optimally utilized. We must reconnect with the youths and continually empower support, mentor and engage them with leadership responsibilities in order to reemphasize their roles as major contributors to Nigeria’s stability.
As this stage of our political imbroglio, youths shouldn’t be apathetic and disinterested in the decision making process. Youth participation in governance remains a vital tool in repositioning the ‘seemingly fractured’ state of our nation. Youths need to get involved in the political and economic development by constantly proffering solutions to the quagmires that have bedevilled the country.
That is why I’ve been a supporter of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill because it environs a better future for the Nigerian youths as it paves way for better involvement of young persons in the polity.
In this worth emphasizing at this juncture, that the potentials of the youths must be tapped and equally utilized optimally in charting a new course for Nigeria. Even though there are common challenges, we must
strive to forge a formidable force in addressing the numerous issues confronting our national unity. We must therefore work relentlessly, in assuring a better future for the next generations.
Nigeria can be great again!
Oloruntade Ganiu is an undergraduate of the Lagos State University
where he studies Political Science.