President Muhammadu Buhari, today, Thursday, gave legal authority to the young Nigerians to contest future elections at all levels with the signing into law of Not Too Young To Run Bill, but asked them to postpone their political ambition after 2019 general elections.
Speaking at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa shortly after appending his signature to the bill, the President said: “But, please, can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections!”
According to Buhari, the coordinators of the Not Too Young To Run movement have now established a formidable legacy, “which is that, in our maturing democracy, if you really want to change something in Nigeria, and if you can organize yourselves and work hard towards it, you can achieve it. The outcome of such efforts is this remarkable feat.
“These efforts have resulted in the heroic task of enshrining in law, a reduction of the minimum ages for elective office in Nigeria.
“Eligible age for aspirants for members of the State Houses of Assembly will be reduced from 30 to 25 years;
“Eligible age for aspirants for members of the Federal House of Representatives will be reduced from 30 to 25 years; and
“Eligible age for aspirants for Office of the President, will be lowered from 40 to 35 years.”
President Buhari regretted however that the age limits for Senators and Governors was not reduced, as originally proposed by the sponsors of this Bill, saying that this is an issue that may need to be addressed going forward.
He said however that the focus and contribution of the promoters of the Bill have now successfully increased the quality and maturity of Nigerian democracy and expanded the playing field for youth participation in politics.
“You, the young people of Nigeria, are now set to leave your mark on the political space, just as you have done over the decades in entrepreneurship, sports, art, media entertainment, technology, and several other fields.
“You are undoubtedly Nigeria’s most important resource – not oil, not agriculture, not solid minerals – but you and all of us. Your energy, intelligence and talent are what will drive and develop Nigeria, long after we are all gone.
“This is an opportunity for me to affirm that this Administration will continue to do everything in its power to make Nigeria work for you.
“You may all know that the Bill I just assented now becomes an Act of the National Assembly.
“Thus, it may be tempting for you to think of this as the end of the journey. However, it is only the beginning; there is still a lot of work ahead, towards ensuring that young people take full advantage of the opportunities provided not only by this constitutional amendment but also through Nigeria’s boundless prospects.
“You should inculcate the spirit of self-help. Those who complete their training should not just sit down and wait for government or private sector to employ them. You should be innovative and turn your hands to any legitimate work that will enable you to sustain yourself.
“You may have noticed already that every one of you represents one of our 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory. This is because today is about preparing for the bright future of our country.
“I am confident each one of you will transform Nigeria in your own way, whether through media, agricultural enterprise, economists, engineers, or as lawmakers in your States or at Federal levels, or as State Governors, and even someday, as President. Why not?”
President Buhari expressed pride about what the young Nigerians have achieved even as he asked them to work to make Nigeria a greater country for the future generations of Nigerians.