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Reps may reduce age eligibility for political offices: Dogara

By The Rainbow
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The speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, on Monday, said that the House will consider lowering the age of eligibility for Nigerians seeking election into political offices in order to allow youths to actively participate in the political process.

Dogara spoke during a dialogue with students drawn from universities across the country, at the National Assembly.

He said: “I am 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.”

“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 endeavour, 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, cautioned that there must be a balance between involvement in 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.

“We want to assure all Nigerian students, that the House of Representatives and indeed, the National Assembly, as a parliament of the Nigerian people, will take the right steps to meet most of your demands. We believe that student unionism is a vital training ground for leadership. On your part, you must return to the part of enlightened, peaceful, purposeful and violence – free student unionism and activism.”

“The issues surrounding youth employment are multi-sectoral and must involve many stakeholders such as government, the private sector, educational and training institutions, employers, employees, parents and families, communities and of course, the youth.

-Emmanuel Ikechukwu