Opinion: From Nigeria to the world, the youth are making a bold statement

by Eta E. Uso

On November 22, 2016, the Not Too Young To Run campaign which originated in Nigeria, became a global project via its launch at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law in Geneva.

In Nigeria, the #NotTooYoungToRun project is based on a bill which seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement for seeking elective offices: from 40 years to 30 years for President of the Federal Republic; from 35 years to 30 years for State Governor; from 30 years to 25 years for Federal House of Representatives; and from 30 years to 25 years for State Assembly.

Keeping it local, imagine a country where youth leaders are often beyond the “youth age range” and youth-focused policies are discussed without inclusion and input from youth? Welcome to Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country where youth make up majority of the population but remain sidelined by the political elites. However, we are seeing a ‘new’ Nigeria take shape, where youth are demanding their rightful place in the political process. One of the tools that Nigerian youth are using to demand political inclusion is the “Not Too Young to Run Bill.” The youth of Nigeria are using this bill to not only advocate for greater inclusion into the political process, but to also demand more access at the table where decisions are made. Nigeria’s population has exceeded 180 million people and more than sixty percent of Nigerians are under the age of 25 years old. The current politics of exclusion and disenfranchisement does not reflect the true realities on the ground in Africa’s largest democracy.

Lest we forget, the Nigerian political class have consistently over the years, justified the exclusion of the youth in the political process under the notion that we the youth are not ready. However, Nigerian youths have consistently proved them wrong. Look at the country today, in all spheres; technology, agriculture, media, environment and grassroots engagement for various causes – the youth of Nigeria have consistently proven themselves as indispensable parties in advancing meaningful solutions. If we have succeeded in all these, on what basis are we ‘not ready’ or unqualified to take the reins of political power at different levels in Nigeria?

It is also noteworthy that in Nigeria today, there is this subtle fear of radicalization of idle youth. One wonders, why worry when the solution is before all of us. And the solution is simple; empower and engage the youth to stop violent extremism and their recruitment for unhealthy purposes. And this can only be done by inclusion and not exclusion or relegation.

 Going back to the Not Too Young to Run bill, it is pertinent to note that it has been a long walk and while this project of ours (the youth of Nigeria) is still far from the finish line, the good news is that we are not giving up. And each day, we continue to seek inroads at increasing awareness, and consistently sustaining the pressure for consideration and passage of the Not Too Young to Run (NTYTR) Bill in Nigeria.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Eta is a development professional with vast interests in Governance and Nation building. He also possesses an academic background in Artificial Intelligence and Engineering. The contents of this post are his opinion and not necessarily that of any organization he may be professionally affiliated with. He tweets @royaltyusoEta Uso

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