A bill before the House of Representatives, seeking to reduce the age qualifications for candidates to contest for the positions of President, governor and senate in the country to 30 years, Wednesday, passed second reading.
The bill, which is an alteration of Sections 65, 106 and 131 of the 1999 Constitution, also makes provision for independent candidacy into the country’s electoral process, while also seeking to further reduce the age qualifications to contest for the House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly to 25 years.
The sponsor of the bill, Tony Chinedu Nwulu, representing Oshodi-Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in his lead debate, argued that electing candidates into public offices was an important aspect of democratic practices.
He said: “Countries like the United Kingdom parliament decided in 2006 to lower their age of candidacy from 21 to 18, which had existed since the Parliamentary Elections Act 1695. An age candidacy of 25 would encourage greater youth participation in politics.”
According to him, many countries world wide had called for a reduction in age qualification into elected offices and that the bill was a demonstration of the growing desire and demand of youths to participate in the democratic process.
“This desire itself could be viewed as a sufficient warrant for young people to participate, demonstrate a willingness to engage and fulfill the burdens of office.”
On the issue of Independent candidacy, Nwulu stressed the need to open up the space for lawmakers to come in as independent candidates.
He said: “It is pertinent now to amend the constitution to make room for independent candidates to widen the democratic processes in our elections, and above all to encourage our young ones to fully participate in all elective offices.”
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