The International Republican Institute (IRI) , Nigeria hosted youth leaders of political parties as well as representatives of youth groups to a round table on ‘Youth Inclusion in the Electoral Process’ on June 23, 2016.
The #NotTooYoungToRun Bill currently under review by the House Committee on Constitution Review was discussed at the meeting which held in Abuja.
The Head Research Policy and Advocacy at YIAGA, Samson Itodo presented a paper on the ‘Prospects and Opportunities’ of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill.
In his presentation, he highlighted some of the arguments adduced against lowering the age for running for elective office in Nigeria. Some of these arguments he said include inexperience, wrong timing, poor self-leadership, economic deficiency, misuse of youth power, negative roles of young people during military dictatorship, as well as poor performance of young people who have held offices in the past.
He, however, presented counter arguments to reiterate why the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill should be passed into law.
He listed the huge gap between voting age and eligibility age, lack of internal party democracy, gerontocracy, electoral fraud, money politics and political exclusion as justifications for the passage #NotTooYoungToRun Bill. He added that If indeed democracy is about inclusion, then citizens should have access to the space
“Across the world, countries are opening up the space for youth political participation. For all the arguments against #NotTooYoungToRun, no one has denied that young people are creative and innovative. Passing #NotTooYoungToRun will also bring enhance experiential approach to youth leadership development”, Itodo said.
He called for sustained engagement with all relevant Stakeholders at both national, state and grassroot levels.
He particularly tasked members of political parties to understand the constitution review process and critical stakeholders for effective engagement.
“All the political parties need to utilize party structures to popularize the bill and galvanize the support of party members. It is important to also engage party caucuses in the National Assembly as a way of galvanizing support for #NotTooYoungToRun”, he advised.
Participants at the roundtable pledged their commitment to continuous advocacy for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill at all levels.