Publication

Not too Young to Rule Act, 2018: A Square Peg in a Round Hole?

Introduction

The pendulum has swung towards a new generation of people. This change was not initiated by the youths to participate in the political arena, the Act gives them the wigs, to fly above

In the political administration of the country.

This writer aims at the effectiveness of the establishment and the impact of the “Not too you to Rule Act”, 2018. On Nigeria democracy, and how it gives the young generation a say in politics. Although, some youths in the political setting are seen not to be capable enough to participate in the smooth running of the affairs of this great country.

The principle of ‘all citizens are eligible for all posts’ frowns at the age barrier in a democratically configured country.  From Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, known faces have resurfaced in successive elections, especially at the Federal level. Most of these persons have been in positions of authority between the 60s and 80s. Some of these politicians have ruled as military heads during the military regime and are still making efforts to get into the Aso Rock.

However, Nigeria as a country does not need people that can only work for eight hours a day to run the administration of the country. There is a need for reformation in the political system, the old people should step aside, and give room for those that can work more than eight hours. There should be no barriers that will hinder the youths to be involved in political activities for national development.

The concept of democracy

Like many other concepts in social science, democracy has been subjected to modifying

contradictory exercises and conflicting definitions. This is owing to its rapid spread and practice among countries around the world. Today, it becomes difficult to pin down democracy, due to its wide praise. Democracy is the rule of the people.

According to Giorgio Agamben, Nicholas Heron

Theory & Event 13 (1), 2010;

Any discussion of the term” democracy” today is distorted by a preliminary ambiguity that condemns those who use it to misunderstand. Of what do we speak when we speak about democracy? To what form of rationality does this term pertain? A slightly more attentive observation would show that those who discuss democracy today understand this term sometimes as a form of the body politic’s constitution, sometimes as a technique of government. The term thus refers both to the conceptuality of public law and to that of administrative practice: it designates power’s form of legitimation as well as the modalities of its exercise. Since it is obvious to everybody that, in contemporary political discourse, this term is more often related to a technique of government-which, as such, has nothing especially reassuring about it-one understands the malaise of those who continue to use it in the first sense in entirely good faith.

In the classical principles of democracy, as listed out by Aristotle, “all the citizens are eligible for all posts and officials city-state state will come through the elections”. Of course, governance is more about providing for the well-being and security of the people. Any government that can’t provide has lost its essence. This does not have any relationship with age. Age has not played any role in good governance and democracy. It is all about political will and individual leadership styles and skills. It is about having the interest of the people at heart.

The Not too young to Rule Act

The NTYTRA alters the following sections of the1999 constitution of Nigeria, as amended in 2011: Section 65 (1); Section 106 (B); Section 131 (B); Section 171 (B). Before the passing into law of the bill, it was stipulated that the age qualification for the President, Governor, Senator, House of Representative Member, and State House of Assembly were 40, 35, 35, 3,0, and 30 respectively. Interestingly, the NTYTRA gives room for persons below the aforementioned age ranges to contest for elective positions in the Country.

Today the new law allows for persons from age 30 to contest in the presidential poll, while people from age range 30, 30, 2,5, and 25 can contest for the Governorship, Senate, House of Representatives, and House of Assembly respectively. The NTYTRA is expected to expand the field for more potential candidates, promote democracy, promote youth development and empowerment (as promised by the 8th National Assembly,  save as an opportunity for the youth to decide the future of the country and an agenda for a paradigm shift, especially in the introduction of young suitable and qualified Nigerians, in their numbers into Administrative, leadership and governance in the country, and enable youths to contribute to nation-building through public service.

However, on the 31st day of May 2018, a historic event took place in Nigeria. The event was the signing of the “Not too young to run Bill” into law by President Muhammadu Buhari. The Bill which is now the “Not too Young to Run Act” (NTYTRA) was passed by the 8th National Assembly, under the leadership of Bukola Saraki (Senate President). The NTYTRA has been seen as the most followed public bill in the Country right from when democracy was restored in 1999. The NTYTRA amends the Constitution by reducing the age qualification for certain elective offices created by the Constitution. Today, the bill has generated lots of arguments in support of and against it.

NTYTRA And Democracy In Nigeria:

As the popular saying goes “a house is not built in a day” and “the journey of a thousand miles begins with just a step”. It becomes pertinent, therefore, to understand that Nigeria, as a country cannot achieve political excellence within a twinkle of an eye. Not, especially, when the Country has undergone many years of undemocratic practices in government, unpatriotism, oppression, and political lopsidedness. From the return to democracy in 1999, elections have been a thing of the oldies, while the youths are relegated to becoming instruments of violence, rigging, and other forms of election malpractices.

The 1999 Constitution restricted the eligibility to contest for the Presidency to Forty (40) years (see Section 131). The age of 35 was stipulated for Senators and Governors (see Section 65-79), 30 years for House of Representatives and House of Assembly members. This implied that below the age of 30 in Nigeria, no matter one’s level of integrity, intellectual capacity, and qualification, he is illegible to contest for elective offices (like the ones listed above) in the country. The big question arises: was this democratic? Democracy, as the world’s most valid and viable system of government, provides for the rule of the people. Democracy rests on two fundamental principles: Individual autonomy – no imposition of rules by one to another and equality – where everyone has the same opportunity to make or influence societal decisions.

It is important also to state that the NTYTRA has expanded the field for more potential candidates. This in itself is capable of redefining democracy in Nigeria, because as more people, especially the youths, can now throw their hats into the ring, the electorates are left with ample talent to choose from, as opposed to provision practice where it was any option other than a particular candidate where credibility was not considered because it was a show or regular faces in the ring.

With the NTYTRA, campaigns in Nigeria will go beyond simply finding shallow loopholes in the sole opposition party candidate or party to attempt a more challenging homework of flagging its best brain and most qualified instead of the candidate with the fattest bank account. This paradigm shift will increase the number of well-read and intelligent youth in the political space of Nigeria. It is a victory for democracy and a welcome to development because it seeks to introduce inclusiveness in political participation. Several studies have been conducted earlier by scholars of physiology, but none of these studies found a ‘linkage and wisdom orb between age and leadership skills.  Therefore, Nigerian youths can be political leaders instead of “disruptive elements, things, and social media mobs’.               

Conclusion:

The thrust of this article was to critically examine NTYTRA  enforcement and its impacts on Nigeria’s democracy. Democracy has been seen as the rule by the people.  It is a system of government where the people have the liberty to choose who they want as their leader or representative. In a democracy, all the citizens are eligible for all posts, and officials of the country will come through elections. Hence, the placement of the age barrier, as seen in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) did the nation more harm than good. Although there are many criticisms of NTYTRA, it is important to note that a journey of thousand miles usually begins with a step. A house cannot be built in a day. It is worthy to note that the NTYTRA has expanded the field for more potential candidates.

Recommendations:

  • From statistics, the youths form the largest parts of the Nigerian population. Therefore we must restructure the leadership machinery of Nigeria to create space for the young people, who hold the future of our great nation.
  • The NTYTRA should be seen as a tool for power and leadership transmission from old to young and from past to the future.
  • The older persons should not see the NTYTRA as a technical elimination move, or an act to make them irrelevant in the political space. Rather, they should consider it to be a move in the right direction to right the wrongs in Nigerian politics. With this, therefore, they should play advisory roles to the younger generations and be ready to make valuable contributions whenever the call comes.

REFERENCES:

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2.         Ajayi, A. T. & Ojo, E. O. (2014).  Democracy in Nigeria: Practice, Problems, and Prospects. Developing Country Studies, 4(2). Available at: www.iiste.org 

3. Duke, O O., Odey, O. & Etim, E. E. (2017). The role of the state in curbing ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria as a federation. International Journal of Advanced Research in Public Policy, Social Development, and Enterprise Studies. 2(1): 17

4. Sesan (2018). On the Not too young to run Act. Punchng.com (June 4, 2018).

5. Campbell, David F. J. (2008). The Basic Concept for the Democracy Ranking of the Quality of Democracy. Vienna: Democracy Ranking

6. Odey, K. (2018). Who needs “not too young to run” Law? Leadership Nigeria www. leadership.ng

7. Okogba, E. (2018). Not too young to run Act: Beyond lip service. Vanguard New. www.vanguardngr.com

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About Imran Ridwan Anuoluwapo

Imran Ridwan Anuoluwapo, is a graduate of English literature from Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto. He is currently a student of law at the University of Maiduguri. His area of interest is Islamic personal law, constitutional law, oil and gas, commercial law, international law, corporate practice, and criminal law. His candid for mentorship and training. He is reachable vide/WhatsApp 08131077061 and imranridwan@gmail.com