Convener of the NotTooYoungToRun (NTYTR) bill that was passed into law yesterday, Samson Itodo has said 2019 is for grabs for youths with content and character.
Itodo said on May 21, 2018 the movement gave President Buhari and 8-Day Ultimatum to assent to the Bill so as to bequeath to Nigerian youths a memorable democracy present by assenting to the bill.
LEADERSHIP Weekend recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in his 2018 Democracy address promised to sign the NTYTR bill into law, which he did on Wednesday, May 31, 2018
According to Itodo “The Bill as assented by the President reduces the age qualification for the office of the President from 40-35, House of Representatives from 30-25 and state House of Assembly from 30-25.
He said “the age qualification for governor and Senate was retained at 35 years contrary to the demands of the Nigerian people, maintaining that the retention of the 35 years for both governor and Senate positions is unfortunate and disappointing and called on the National Assembly to revisit its vote on the age qualifications for both offices”.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Weekend on the sidelines of the World Press Conference in Abuja yesterday , he said 2019 is all for grabs, the candidates that will win elections are candidates that appreciate the fact that young people are the ones that will determine 2019.
“We are going to be using our numbers to negotiate for space, if you do not want our vote, then there is no need bulging, you can continue with the status quo, but if you want the youth vote, then for young people who come out to run for office, who have content and character”
Itodo said the movement noted that signing this bill into law is not sufficient to guarantee youth representation in political office, it will require reducing the cost of politics, democratic primaries within political parties, affirmative action/quotas and most importantly credible and peaceful elections.
As such, the Convener said the movement were demanding that the national assembly reviews its vote on the age qualification for the Senate and Governors, this review should be in tandem with the proposal by the movement President-30 years, Governor 30-years and Senate-30 year.
The Movement further stated that political parties should reserve 50% of party tickets for capable, competent and morally upright youth aspirants across all elections in 2019 and expedite action on assenting to electoral reform bills bordering on limiting campaign expenditure and cost of securing party nomination.
Speaking on the challenges of achieving success to the assent, Itodo said “First getting the lawmakers to actually support this bill was a herculean task, but the good thing is that there are change agents that spoke with their colleagues and made them appreciate the values of this bill and then we got support, but it wasn’t easy getting majority of the lawmakers to accept and support this.
He added that “Also the narrative that young people were not ready was a huge challenge and we needed a counter narrative to show that they were indeed ready. We even showed classic examples of young people who had been given opportunities performing excellently well, both in the private and public space”
He maintained that “The other critical issue was the fact that mobilization was a bit of a challenge. Nigeria is such a difficult country, it is quite large and achieving change at a national spread was quite herculean, but we are glad that we surmounted that, organizing across 36 states and local governments. Thanks to the support that we got from our international and development partners”
The Convener said “What we have said is that Not Too Young To Run is about disruption, what we have done is we disrupted the political space, we led a battle, an intergenerational warfare without arms, rather we simply used strategy, engagements and engagements and if youths and political parties are united, they can disrupt the political space”
He stressed that “We must emphasised that we are not advocating for young people to just get into office for the purposes of representation, but it is about quality of representation and as a movement we will not support any person who does not have moral integrity, capacity and competence. This is serious business, it is about bringing our country back to the path of economic and political” progress