On Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari, and a team of young Nigerians, led by Samson Itodo, made history, as the Not Too Young To Run bill was signed into law by the nation’s number one citizen.
Young Nigerians, on and offline, went into expected celebrations. While some declared political intentions, most revelled and soaked in the feat just accomplished.
But amidst all this, a shocker came forth; that the bill signed into law by the president was different in spirit and letter from the one presented at the beginning of the campaign.
We highlight the three major differences in the proposed bill and the one signed into law:
NO INDEPENDENT CANDIDACY
In the bill sponsored by Tony Nwulu, the lawmaker representing Oshodi-Isolo II federal constituency, at the house of representatives, the sponsor and the team at YIAGA requested for independent candidacy.
In the explanatory memo, the sponsors wrote: “This Bill 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 and Governor and membership of the Senate and House of Representatives and the State House of Assembly. The Bill also seeks to allow independent candidacy in Nigeria’s electoral process.”
The bill proposed that “section 65 (2)(b) is amended by substituting the provision with a provision as follows: A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if – (c) He is member of a political party and is sponsored by that party or he is an independent candidate”.
But in a copy of the signed Act, seen by TheCable, the only alteration made to section 65 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, was a change in age for the Nigerians aspiring to the house of representatives.
The Act says “Section 65(1)(b) of the principal Act is altered by substituting for the word ‘thirty’, in line 2, the word ‘twenty five'”.
YOU HAVE TO BE 35 TO BE IN THE SENATE
Despite promises made by Senate President Bukola Saraki and his colleagues in the red chamber, nothing has changed for the senate.
The bill sent to the senate requested that “a person shall be qualified for election as a member of – (a) the Senate, if he is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of thirty years”.
The Act signed by the President, as seen by TheCable, stipulates nothing about the senate.
Therefore, Nigerians, 25 years and above can contest to the federal house of representatives, but they have to be 10 years older, to aspire to the senate. You still have to be 35 before becoming a senator in Nigeria.
…AND 35 TO BE GOVERNOR
Lagos, Kano, and Zamfara states found themselves in the YIAGA “hall of shame” for refusing to give their nod to the bill, which was to affect the office of the governor and lawmakers at the state level.
However, the Act does not affect the office of the governor in these states or any other state of the federation.
The bill proposed that “section 177 (b) and (c) is amended by substituting the provisions with new provisions as follows: A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the Governor of a State if – (b) he has attained the age of thirty”.
The Act signed by President Buhari, however, showed that section 177 of the 1999 constitution as amended was not altered in any way. Status quo stands.
As it stands, the Not Too Young To Run bill succeeded in altering the age for contesting to the office of the president, federal house of representatives, and state assemblies.
At 35, you can now be president, and at 25, you can get into the green chamber and state assemblies.