“Let us acknowledge and celebrate what youth can do to build a safer, more just world. Let us strengthen our efforts to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours.” —Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon message on International Youth Day, 12 August 2010.
IT was a renewed hope and excitement for Nigerian youths on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, when the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill passed Second Reading at the House of Representatives. The bill was firstly introduced and sponsored by Hon.Tony Nwulu, Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency II of Lagos State on Wednesday May 26th, 2016. The bill, with gazette number HB. 544, seeks to alter the Section 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25 respectively. The bill also seeks to mainstream independent candidacy into Nigeria’s electoral process.
The bill if completely and successfully passed, the interest of Nigerian youths will be more protected and their destinies will be in their own hands. It will also enhance and increase opportunities for youths to contribute to democratic governance in Nigeria; will promote inclusive politics which will guarantee a level-playing field for all; promote adult-youth partnership in public governance which is inline with international best practice. The bill will limit the youths’ involvement in political hooliganism, gangster-ism, racketeering, violence and thuggery. The bill, which will give way for independent candidacy, will truncate the corruption and lack of internal democracy in the political parties, will discourage godfatherism, imposition of candidates, monopolisation etc which over the years have discourage the youths from political participation.
The Nigerian youths constitutes the largest constituency of over 60 per cent of the 170 million population, which amounts to at least 120 million youths. It is worrisome how the youths in the last one decade have been schemed out and marginalised from governance. The present administration insensitiveness to being inclusive in terms on youth’s inclusiveness in governance is a point of worry and needs urgent attention.
In the Federal Executive Council, where decisions are being made, no single youth to represent and negotiate for the youths, even the Minister for Youths and Sports is about 52 years old. The youngest of the 36 Ministers is Alhaji Abubakar Malami, SAN (Minister of Justice), who is 48 years old as at the time of his appointment. This singular act alone is a bogus slap on the faces of all Nigerian youths and this signifies that the youths have no place in the affairs of governance and decision making in Nigeria, and this is a total disregard to the global call towards reducing injustice and inequality world-wide.
Some have argued that Nigerian youths of today are inexperienced and not ripe enough to govern, but I must point out clearly that such minds are still living in the dark, failed to delve into the history and have refused to realign themselves with the present realities around the world.
Experience and evidence have shown that youths are change makers, critical thinkers, innovators, communicators and natural leaders. Analyses below are concrete arguments and evidences from various perspectives.
At the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 25-27 September 2015, 193 world leaders, including Nigeria’s president converged for the first time and signed an agreement to have a global and common agenda which are the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). The goals are set of all-inclusive and achievable group of objectives that, if attained or achieved, will make this world a more just, peaceful, and a sustainable place for all. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets aimed at eradicating extreme poverty in all its forms, promoting economic prosperity, ensuring environmental sustainability, promoting social inclusion and achieving global peace and Security.
It is important to point out clearly that one of the basis and foundation the 17 SDG goals are built upon is to “Reduce Inequality” that is: NEVER LEAVE ANY ONE BEHIND in other word, if we must achieve the maximum development, just, peaceful and sustainable world; inequality and injustice must be addressed and reduced. For example, there must be equal rights between women and men, the gap between the rich and poor must be reduced, and the youths must be given the adequate rights in-line with the principles of equality and non-discrimination to participate in governance and decision making process.
Adebowale Adeniyi is the Executive Director, Centre for Global Solutions and Sustainable Development(CENGSSUD).