Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, has explained why the age limit for governorship and senate were retained in the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ bill recently signed into law.
His explanation is a direct response to the demands of the Not Too Young To Run Movement which on Friday, called on members of the National Assembly to review its vote on the age qualification for the senate and governorhip.
The head of the movement, Samson Itodo, said the review should be in tandem with its initial proposal which put the age qualification for governor and senate at 30 years.
It described the retention of the 35 years for both offices as “unfortunate and disappointing” as it urged the National Assembly to revisit its vote.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday gave his assent to the bill passed by the National Assembly last year.
Qualifying age for the Presidency, which used to be 40 years, has now been reduced to 35 with the age for governor and senate retained at 35 years contrary to the demands of the movement.
Mr Buhari said in the bill presented to him for assent, there was no reduction in the age requirement for the office of senators and governors, indicating that age would still be left at 35. He said he hoped it will be looked after eventually.
Mr Ekweremadu, on Friday, explained that the 35 years age qualification for the Senate and governorship was retained to correct the initial disparity in the 1999 Constitution between the age requirement for the Senate and the Presidency.
He said the National Assembly reasoned that going by the provisions of Section 146 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the president of the Senate could hold the office of the President for a period not exceeding three months should the offices of the President and Vice President be vacant at the same time for any reason.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, Mr Ekweremadu explained that Section 146 (1) provides that the Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of the Constitution.
“However, Section 146 (2) further provides that where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in Sub-section 1 during a period when the office of Vice-President is also vacant, the President of the Senate shall hold the office of President for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new President, who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office’.
“So, since the President of the Senate, a Senator, could become an Acting President by happenstance, it is only right that the qualification for both offices are the same.
“However, the Not-Too-Young-To-Run amendment is just one giant step forward. It is not the end of the road, but just the beginning of the road. It is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
“I believe that anyone, who is 18 years old and qualified to vote should also be qualified to stand for an election. This is our ultimate target and I believe we will get there. So, it is work in progress because constitution amendment is a continuum,” he said.
The deputy senate president urged the youths to mobilise into the political parties in their numbers to begin to influence party decisions, push for direct primary elections, internal democracy, level playing ground, and other reforms that will complement the provisions of the current millage achieved by way of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run amendment.