Ladies and gentlemen of the Press,
We welcome you to this press conference organized by the Not Too Young To Run movement on the state of the passage of the age reduction bill at the State Houses of Assembly. 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.
Since the #NotTooYoungToRun bill was transmitted to the 36 states House of Assemblies along with other constitutional amendment bills, at least 21 states have passed the bill. Recall that in December 2017, the National Assembly transmitted 15 constitutional amendment bills to the states for passage.
The Ondo state House of Assembly became the first state assembly to pass the Not Too Young to Run (age reduction) bill as part of the constitutional amendment, followed closely by the Adamawa, Kwara, Benue and Nasarawa State Houses of Assembly who also passed the Not Too Young To Run bill. Borno, Delta, Enugu, Ekiti, Katsina, Yobe and Gombe state assemblies also passed bill in December 2017.
In January 2018, the Kogi and Kebbi state Houses of Assembly passed the age reduction bill (Not Too Young To Run) while in February 2018, the Bauchi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Ogun, Niger and Abia state Houses of Assembly passed the bill.
These states listed above have been inaugurated into the Not Too Young To Run Hall of Fame for voting in line with aspirations of the Nigerian people. By this singular act, the 21 youth friendly states have made history and written their names in gold. The passage of Not Too Young To Run is a demonstration of their commitment to the tenets of representative democracy. We commend them for fulfilling their promise to their constituents and the Nigerian youth. Nigerian youth will always remember them for showing leadership in promoting youth inclusion in democratic politics in Nigeria. Posterity will be fair to them.
The movement would like to register its disappointment with the Taraba State House of Assembly for voting against the age reduction bill. On the 20th December 2017, 11 members of the House voted against the bill making it impossible for the house to pass the bill. It is unfortunate that majority of State Assembly members voted against the will of the people of Taraba despite assurances of its passage by the entire house. We appreciate the 6 members of the House of Assembly who voted for the bill. Thank you for standing in defense of the constitutional right of young people to participate in politics by contesting for elective office. Posterity also will be fair to you.
The movement commends the House of Representatives for passing an amendment to Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to the effect that political parties are compelled to ensure the position of youth leaders must be occupied by persons between the age of 18 and 35 years. This amendment is in tandem with the philosophy of Not Too Young To Run. We urge the National Assembly to expedite action on concluding all electoral and constitutional amendments as the 2019 elections are in about 365 days.
According to Section 9 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) a constitutional amendment requires approval by at least 24 state Houses of Assembly. The Movement uses this opportunity to call on all states house of assemblies who are yet to pass the bill to emulate their colleagues by voting YES for the bill. An affirmative Vote for the bill will be another historic step to secure the future of Youths and indeed the next generation.
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 a constitutional imperative. We demand that our state House of Assembly speedily pass the Not Too Young To Run bill.
The movement would like to place the following on record;
1. The 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their power not only as voters or campaign merchants but 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.
2. Data from the Independent National Electoral Commission 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.
3. To the political class – If you want the youth vote pass the Not Too Young To Run bill; uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates in 2019 and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.
We call on our state assembly to urgently pass the constitutional amendment especially the Age Reduction bill in the interest of Nigeria and our democracy. We urge the National Assembly to transmit the constitutional amendment bills to the President for assent as soon as the amendments are received from the states. Any further delay will not only undermine Nigeria’s democracy but could negatively impact on the 2019 elections.
We thank all the young organizers across the country who have constantly engaged with their lawmakers to ensure the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, we thank the media, civil society, and our partners for the solidarity and support.
One Shared Value, One Shared Goal, #NOTTOOYOUNGTORUN