By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA-The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth $ Advancement(YIAGA), has said, that young Nigerians, will not to wait until 2023 to run for Presidency, saying that the youth are ready and will surely run for all offices in the forthcoming 2019 elections.
Disclosing this to The Sight News on Monday in Abuja, the Senior Program Officer, YIAGA, Ibrahim Faruk, stated that it will be a crime to say that young people are not ready to hold political positions, adding that if young people are not ready, they will not be here.
You would recall that President Muhammadu Buhari while signing the “Not Too Young To Run Bill” into law two months ago, jokingly urged the youth to defer their ambitions until after the 2019 polls.
In his word, the President remarked thus; “Please, can I ask you to postpone your campaigns till after the 2019 elections?” A statement which prompted the entire hall to burst into laughter.
Reacting to President Buhari’s statement, Faruk noted that it was only a joke and the youth will run for 2019 elections.
According to him, “Many people have said that President Buhari is a very funny man and I did not believe until that day, because I was there and he actually said it in jest, so I think you had to be there in the room to understand the context and the way he said it and it was a joke.
“As you can see, there are young people, even in the President’s party, there is a 36 year old who is serious about running for elections and he is going to go all the ways to the primaries and stand against the president.
“From President down to other elective offices, young people are standing up and saying, look, we are not too young to run and we are ready to run and they are going to participate in 2019 elections” he emphasized.
He further stated that young people have shown their competence and their character in many other different areas not just in politics. “The youngest Commissioner in the country is Mark Okoye in Anambra state and he is responsible for the internally generated revenue of the state which is one of the highest without federal allocation; or Asuquo Ekpeyong in Cross Rivers who is the Commissioner of Finance, or Muhammed Sani Abdullahi in Kaduna state who is a young commissioner.
“We have seen young people also being appointed as Special Assistant even though largely in the space of the media but also around technology. Of course we are ready. I think it will be a crime to say young people are not ready.
“It is just that the 1999 constitution increased the age for running for election. In 1963 at 21, you could run for House of Reps, in 1979 at 21 you could run for House of Reps but now what we have done is to bring it down to 25 and say look, young people who are ready, who have shown they have what it takes, come out and run for office if you are running a very good campaign, the people in your constituency will vote for you” He stated.
On the way forward after the passage of the Bill into Law, he noted that they have put forward the “Ready To Run Movement”, to inspire, promote and support young men and women, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) who want to run for office in 2019.
In his words, “So for us, after the passage of the “Not Too Young to Run” bill which is now a law, it is very important that we find avenue to support young people who actually want to run for office. It is not enough that after the work we have done to get the bill into law in the country now, just to sit down on our oars.
“We have seen that ‘Raising New Voices’ shares some of the same ideas and that we have mutual areas of corporation and so we are working with them, helping to identify young people across the federal constituencies that they have selected to make sure that young people with competence, character and capacity who are registered on our platform can run” Faruk remarked.
Nigeria’s 1999 constitution stipulates that the President has to be at least 40 years old while Senators and State Governors have to be 35 years and above, but the “NotTooYoungToRun”, stipulates that the age for Presidential candidates will be from 40 to 35, state governors and senators from 35 to 30 years, while the age limit for State assembly candidates will be 25 years.