NTYTRB: Protest to remove age restrictions on political posts

In certain schools of political thought, from
time to time, the elite classes drop crumbs of
hope to pacify the masses. These crumbs are
dropped to propagate the belief that a shift is
underway that will eventually lead to real
political change. The passing of the Not Too
Young to Run Bill, is one of those crumbs.

Passed by the Senate last month, the Bill will
lower the age of qualification for political
aspirants running for presidency, governorship
and other political offices. For the office of the
Presidency, the age of qualification has been
reduced from 40 to 30, Governorship from 35
to 30, Senate from 35 to 30, House of
Representatives from 30 to 25 and State House
of Assembly from 30 to 25. The Bill will also
allow for independent candidates to run for
office, sidestepping the need for political

Though the Bill still has some hoops to go
through before taking effect, the move by the
Senate has been lauded by many as a sign of
change, even a positive ‘call to arms’ for the
youth, showing that the upper echelons seek to
promote equality and level the playing field by
encouraging young people to take a more
active role in society.

Following in the footsteps of Nigeria’s
example, the UN’s Envoy on Youth has
partnered with other agencies in a bid to take
the Not Too Young To Run movement
worldwide. And in theory it makes sense.
According to the UN, there are more young
people in the world now, than ever before , and
approximately 1.8 billion people between the
ages of 10 and 24 . In Nigeria, over 60% of the
population is under the age of 25. The median
age of the country is 18, placing it in the top 20
youngest countries in the world . If population
estimates are to be believed, this is a trend that
is likely to continue.

But these numbers aren’t reflected in the
country’s politics, with Nigeria’s leadership
much older than the population. The current
president is 74, the vice president is 60 and the
senate president is 54. Of the 105 listed
Senators on the NASS website, none are in
their 30s, the youngest is 43. After a reportedly
strong youth turnout in the 2015 election, it
would seem obvious that the passing of this
Bill, would only strengthen the youth, but will
Youth participation in politics on every level is
important and should be encouraged, but just
like old age is not necessarily an indicator of
wisdom, youth alone is not an indicator of the
potential for good governance. There is a need
for the country’s leadership to reflect its
populace, but just as an older politician can be
out of touch, corrupt and inept, so can a young
one. Nevertheless, anything that will increase
the impact of the youth in politics is surely
worthwhile, unfortunately, the bill in and of
itself will likely do very little to change the
current order and politics will still remain very
much in the grip of the elite. 

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