By Angela Atabo/Diana Omeuza
Abuja – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, on Thursday advocated for the setting aside Ministers of State positions for youths.
Dogora made the call while speaking at the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Conference to celebrate President Mohammadu Buhari’s assent to the bill.
He said the history of democracy globally had been about constant struggle between the included and the excluded.
“I don’t think we will be asking for too much after the 2019 elections if we insist on a situation where we can appoint youths as Ministers of State.
“This is so that youths’ participation can be enhanced.
“It is not too much, and if we demand it and stay through to the cause, like joke it will happen,’’ he said.
Dogara said majority of people who had been excluded in politics in Nigeria were youths.
“They have always been told that they are still young.
“They have always been told that they should wait to for their time, ’’ he said.
Dogora, added that the truth is the time of youths is actually now.
“Though the age reduction bill had been signed, it is only the legal barrier that was removed, but there are other barriers left to be conquered in terms of bringing the youth into positions of leadership.
“Barriers like that of economic, institutional and capacity building have to be pulled down for youths who will occupy these offices and without combating these challenges, the benefits of the bill will not be reaped.
“Especially removing the financial barriers that stand against youths at the party levels,’’ he said.
Dogara urged youths to also build their capacity to run for elective positions ahead of the 2019 elections.
The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, who was represented by his Special Adviser, Legislative Matters and Strategy, Mr Kingsley Amaku, said that Nigerian youths were the architect of democracy.
Saraki congratulated the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement for contributing to getting the bill signed by the president, adding that it was signed to prepare ground for massive youth election in 2019 poll.
He said that political power should not be left in the hands of a few but should be held in trust, with as many who are able to serve in honesty and in truth including the youth.
“Nigeria cannot do without the energy and innovation of our young people, the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Law is a reflection of the energy possessed by the youth, which shows that today not tomorrow belongs to the youth.
“But it’s not an end to itself, it is the beginning of a journey, because the Not-Too-Young-To-Run movement is not a political party,’’ Saraki said.
Mr Samson Itodo, one of the Conveners of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement said that the bill went through many hurdles before the presidential assent.
“Why must it take 10 years to amend a section of our constitution? If we are truly a democratic nation, why must it take two years to sign a bill ?, but that is our reality.
“It took the courage of young people outside who stood up against frustration, disenchantment, and the disillusionment that we were experiencing to renew their fate in democracy,’’ he said.