The House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 passed for second reading a bill to alter sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the 1999 constitution to reduce the age qualification for candidates seeking elective offices in the country.
The bill is seeking to reduce the qualification into the office of President from ages 40 to 30 years, office of Governor from 35 to 30 years, the Senate from 35 to 30 years and the federal and state houses of assembly from 30 to 25 years. The bill also seeks to mainstream independent candidacy into the country's electoral process.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon Tony Nwulu in his lead debate noted that electing candidates into public offices is an important aspect of democratic practices.
"Countries like the United Kingdom parliament decided in 2006 to lower their age of candidacy from 21 to 18, which had existed since the parliamentary elections Act 1695.
"An age candidacy of 25 would encourage greater youth participation in politics, "Nwulu said. The law maker while said that many countries across the globe have called for a reduction in age qualification into elected offices adding that this demonstrates the growing desire and demand of youths to participate in democratic processes.
"This desire itself could be viewed as a sufficient warrant for young people to participate, demonstrates a willingness to engage and fulfill the burdens of office," he added.
Speaking on Independent candidacy, the Nwulu stressed the need to open up space for lawmakers to come in as independent candidates.
"It is pertinent now to amend the constitution to make room for independent candidates to widen the democratic processes in our elections, and above all to encourage our young ones to fully participate in all elective offices," Nwulu added.
The House adopted the bill after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and was referred to the adhoc committee on Constitutional Review.