‘NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN’
President Muhammadu Buhari must be commended for the courage and visionary inclination he exhibited in signing the bill into law and giving hope to young Nigerian men and women to fully embrace the democratic process and ensure that democracy thrive in Nigeria.
It is a historic statement proclaiming a progressive and robust endorsement on the future participation of youths and young people in the political processes that shape and define the fortunes of their country, beginning with the 2019 general elections.
Youths between the ages of 21-35 are estimated to make up more than half of our over 180 million population and the Not Too Young To Run law represents a firm commitment and signals a new era of youth inclusion and participation in our governance.
Nigeria needs the energy and innovation of our young people, which they have displayed so amazingly and successfully in sports, entertainment, the arts, academics, business, technology and other callings, both at home and abroad. The time has come for them to apply same in the political arena. This bill provides the veritable platform for them to be fully engaged and integrated in the democratic struggle and governance. It is incumbent on our youths to register, get their PVCs and move on to the next phase of this journey — which is getting their peers and other qualified persons elected into legislative and executive positions.
Nigerian youths must explore practical ways of getting involved in the processes that determine their future by seeing this new law as a comprehensive and holistic document which they can employ in order to maximise their contributions to the development of the society, as well as position themselves to benefit from the opportunities that abound in their environment.
It is important to note that Youthfulness is a fluid concept, sometimes referring to the state of the mind and while this law fundamentally highlights age limits for participation in the various electoral processes, the very participatory and inclusive nature of its composition also means that the youths can be the engine for national development, especially when placed against the fact that in most countries of the world, the youths are often excluded from governance and critical decision making positions of authority.
This law would also address the attitude of fear and insecurity, as a result of the violence that has often characterized our politics, which is a major impediment to the contributions of the youths in making the Nigeria political environment better. They should be encouraged to move from the sidelines into the main playing fields; to embrace the philosophy that often, what ought to be can never be for free. This bill should also inspire them to get fully involved as volunteers and join in the socio/political activities of the system, offering their skills and competence to help build and sustain democracy in Nigeria.
The law should also spur our youths to be part of the democratic agenda by belonging to political parties as registered members, engage and embrace the basic civic responsibilities of political participation and begin to see themselves as stakeholders and key players who embrace the value of responsibility as the motivation for aspiration instead of the self-limitating attitude that political participation is meant for a select breed of people.
Finally, the Not too young to run law, will provide a platform for youths to strive to be active participants in the system since power will not be handed over to them on a platter of gold. Nigerian youths are actually the country’s greatest resource and it is the intelligence, talents and energy of the youth that will help develop our dear country.
~ Dumo Lulu-Briggs