The House of Representatives at plenary has passed for second reading, a bill to reduce the age qualification to contest for the positions of President, Governor and Senator in the country to 30 years.
“A Bill for an Act to Alter Sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to reduce the Age Qualification for the Office of President, Governor and Membership of the Senate and House of Representatives, and for Other Related Matters” was sponsored by Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi-Isolo 11 Federal Constituency of Lagos State, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The bill seeks to reduce the qualification for the office of president from age 40 to 30 years, office of governor from 35 to 30 years, the Senate from 35 to 30 years and the federal and state houses of assembly from 30 to 25 years, respectively.The bill also seeks to allow independent candidacy into the country’s electoral process.
Nwulu in his submission described the process of electing candidates into political office as an important part of democratic practice. 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.”
“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 Independent candidacy, he 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.”
Following a voice vote presided over by Speaker Yakubu Dogara, the bill was referred to the ad hoc committee on Constitutional Review.