Reps May Lower Age Qualification For ‘Certain’ Elective Offices During Next Constitution Amendment – Dogara

Yakubu DogaraSpeaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Monday said the next constitution amendment exercise will capture the reduction of age for eligibility into elective offices to allow Nigerian youths to participate fully in the political process.
Dogara, who made the disclosure while addressing students from various institutions of higher learning across the country at the National Assembly complex, also charged the youths to participate more actively in politics by breaking voters’ apathy and electing leaders who will secure their future and interests.
He said: “I am acutely aware that young people often find themselves on the fringes of the political process. We need to develop a structured manner of involving our students and youths in the political process. I think it may not be out of place to lower the age qualification for certain elective offices in the next constitutional amendment exercise”.
Mr. Dogara said political apathy among young people is translating to low voters’ turnout, adding that such an attitude must change.
“Many young people are not involved in voting during elections which threatens the representative nature of our democratic institutions,
“This country belongs to you but it’s under the stranglehold of men and women of a generation that have overreached itself. The truth is that nothing will be ceded or conceded to your generation without a fight. In this endeavor, your voices mean nothing if you don’t have the votes.
“Therefore, all students in Nigeria must not only register to vote and cast their votes during elections, they must also ensure that their votes, count. There is no other better way by which you will earn respect for yourselves and ensure that the gifts you have taken to the university to polish ultimately benefit your generation”.
He, however, urged the students to strike a balance between student unionism, activism and academic excellence.
“Young students like you possess abundance of passion, drive and the spirit of adventure thus risk taking comes naturally to the young. The idealism of youth must, however, be tempered by the need to excel academically in school. Any student who places activism over academics will sooner than later be left behind by his classmates. You must therefore strike the right balance between activism and academic and social progress”.
“I believe strongly that the culture of peaceful protest, demonstrations and general activism is not only necessary in a democratic state but is in fact a constitutional right. This ensures accountability of government to the people. Resistance to tyranny, crusade for justice and good governance require courage, patriotism and ideological purity.
“It was Martin Luther King, Jnr, who said that: “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed”. Indeed, ‘the man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny’, to paraphrase Prof Wole Soyinka. The culture of protest that I endorse must be uncompromisingly peaceful and non-violent. It must be based on selflessness and not aided by ambition or corruption. It must be for the right reasons and procured only by the purest of motives.
“It must not be based on propaganda and misinformation. It must be non-partisan. Students should never allow themselves to be used by politicians to score political points or by state or non-state actors to pick sour grapes on their behalf”.
On the issue of youth unemployment, the Speaker assured the students that the Green Chamber takes youth unemployment in Nigeria as a top priority “which is why as part of the Sectoral Debates of the House of Representatives, it is engaging the executive on how to diversify the economy and create jobs for our people”.
The Senate leader, Ali Ndume, who represented Senate President Bukola Saraki, said it was important for the students to learn the workings of the Parliament
Senator Ndume noted that leadership begins at the level of the students, adding that young ones, are the leaders of tomorrow and hope of the country.
He urged them not to be derailed.