Oyo and 19 other states are yet to pass the not too young to run bill to give legal backing to agitations to reduce the age of eligibility to contest for political offices in the country.
According to the Not Too Young to Run Movement, about 16 states of the federation have so far passed the bill.
The group also said that data from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) indicate that about 52 percent of registered voters are young Nigerians between the ages of 18 to 35, pointing out that they will co tinge to mobilize more young people across the country to participate in the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja yesterday, Coordinator of the group, Samuel Itodo said it was disappointing that the Taraba state House of Assembly refused to pass the bill after it was transmitted to them by the National Assembly.
Both the Senate and House of Representatives has passed the Not Too Young to Run bill which was passed as part of the ongoing constitutional amendment process, while awaiting concurrence from the state Houses of Assembly.
Itodo said while only eight states are needed to attain the mandatory two third pass it, there was the need for the remaining states that were yet to pass the bill to do so without delay as posterity will judge them.
He said: “The Not Too Young To Run Movement is a movement of youth and civil society groups advocating for the reduction of age for running for elective offices to mainstream young men and women in electoral politics. Not Too Young To Run is Nigeria’s largest and most successful youth movement in recent times.
“The movement is driven by the compelling need to restructure the country’s political system to address the deeply entrenched system of political exclusion and institute inclusive politics, transformative leadership and electoral competitiveness in the electoral process.
“Since the #NotTooYoungToRun bill was transmitted to the 36 states House of Assemblies along with other constitutional amendment bills, at least 16 states have passed the bill. Recall that in December 2017, the National Assembly transmitted 15 constitutional amendment bills to the states for passage.
“The Ondo state House of Assembly became the first state assembly to pass the Not Too Young to Run (age reduction) bill as part of the constitutional amendment, followed closely by the Adamawa, Kwara, Benue and Nasarawa State Houses of Assembly who also passed the Not Too Young To Run bill. Borno, Delta, Enugu, Ekiti, Katsina, Yobe and Gombe state assemblies also passed bill in December 2017.
“In January 2018, the Kogi state House of Assembly passed the age reduction bill (Not Too Young To Run) while in February 2018, the Bauchi and Jigawa state Houses of Assembly passed the bill. Yesterday, February 6th, 2018, Ebonyi state also joined the Hall of Fame by passing the Not Too Young To Run bill.
“These states listed above have been inaugurated into the Not Too Young To Run Hall of Fame for voting in line with aspirations of the Nigerian people. By this singular act, the 16 youth friendly states have made history and written their names in gold. The passage of Not Too Young To Run is a demonstration of their commitment to the tenets of representative democracy.
“We commend them for fulfilling their promise to their constituents and the Nigerian youth. Nigerian youth will always remember them for showing leadership in promoting youth inclusion in democratic politics in Nigeria. Posterity will be fair to them.
“The movement would like to register its disappointment with the Taraba State House of Assembly for voting against the age reduction bill. On the 20th December 2017, 11 members of the House voted against the bill making it impossible for the house to pass the bill.
“It is unfortunate that majority of State Assembly members voted against the will of the people of Taraba despite assurances of its passage by the entire house. We appreciate the 6 members of the House of Assembly who voted for the bill. Thank you for standing in defense of the constitutional right of young people to participate in politics by contesting for elective office. Posterity also will be fair to you.
“The movement commends the House of Representatives for passing an amendment to Section 85 of the Electoral Act 2010 As amended to the effect that political parties are compelled to ensure the position of youth leaders must be occupied by persons between the age of 18 and 35 years.
“This amendment is in tandem with the philosophy of Not Too Young To Run. We urge the National Assembly to expedite action on concluding all electoral and constitutional amendments as the 2019 elections is less 373 days.
“According to Section 9 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) a constitutional amendment requires approval by at least 24 state Houses of Assembly.
“The Not Too Young To Run bill needs at least 8 more states to meet this constitutional threshold! The Movement uses this opportunity to call on the 19 states house of assemblies who are yet to pass the bill to emulate their colleagues by voting YES for the bill. An affirmative Vote for the bill will be another historic step to secure the future of Youths and indeed the next generation.
“As we prepare for the 2019 general elections the imperative for youth inclusion especially as candidates for all elective positions is not a matter for debate but a constitutional imperative. The Movement demands that the state Houses of Assembly speedily pass the Not Too Young To Run bill.”
Itodo said further that the 2019 elections present an opportunity for young people to assert their power not only as voters or campaign merchants but as qualified electoral candidates. The movement is therefore committed to inspiring and supporting more youth candidates with content and character to run for office through its Ready To Run initiative and other interventions aimed at promoting youth candidacy in the next elections.
He said the Not Too Young To Run bill will be a precondition for young Nigerians voting for political leaders, pointing out that the lawmakers must uphold internal party democracy to safeguard the emergence of more youth candidates in 2019 and most importantly commit to non-violent elections.
They call on the 20 state assemblies yet to pass the bill to urgently pass the constitutional amendment especially the Age Reduction bill in the interest of Nigeria and our democracy.