Correcting certain misconceptions about the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill
The #NotTooYoungToRunBill has, thankfully, been passed by the Senate today. And the development, as expected, has been met with a wide range of differing opinions on my timeline and other social media platforms.
To start with, let me not pretend like I have all the answers to some of the questions asked by those who have reservations on certain areas of the bill. I, however, just think there are a few misconceptions that need to be corrected.
Is age the problem of Nigeria’s leadership?
Interestingly, despite repeated corrections, this line of argument has simply refused to die. Each time the idea of young people taking leadership positions is pushed forward, people quickly remember that the age of an individual has no significant bearing on his/her ability to lead. What they fail to understand is that they are, essentially, re-echoing the thoughts of some of us who are calling for the removal of age barriers. If truly age is no indicator of good leadership, why then is there a limitation for a certain category that, under the law, is considered old enough to vote and be held responsible for actions in a court of law? In trying to disprove our claims, they inadvertently support our argument.
Where will young people get money to run from?
Apart from the fact that independent candidacy, a caveat the helps rid of party bottlenecks, has also been introduced, it is somewhat illogical to make a blanket statement that all young persons in Nigeria do not possess either enough wealth in their personal capacity, or the ability to gather same to run for elective office. It is also not true that this bill favors a certain class of young people, precisely the children of rich politicians as is being purported in some areas. Like you, they have the ability to run – which isn’t a problem. And like you too, they would also be subjected to the judgement of the people.
Ultimately, while this bill stands a chance of being manipulated, it is still a great leap into the sort of democracy that we want. And as humans, it is expected that we perfect things going forward. The opportunity cost of not ensuring the passage of the bill out of fear of it being manipulated, is leaving the status-quo and that, if we are going to be honest, helps no one.
Simply put, because it represents social injustice and inequity for the age group that accounts for the most numbers in the country be locked out from its governance and leadership. Stripped of big grammars, democracy is simply about representation. And we cannot call ours a fair representation if those who have the largest numbers in the country are not allowed to get into the room where the direction of the country is determined.
I don’t know about you but it makes me cringe to see 60 year olds negotiating and debating a future that they will not be a part of.
So youths are taking over now?
The simple answer is no. No one will press their thumb to your name or party’s logo because of your age. They would however do so if they are convinced that you would represent them well and front their desires.
This means that the passage of the bill is not a nod for young people to displace the old ones and take over every elective office by fiat. It only gives them a chance to present their own (different) ideas and contest with older folks for different elective office. The decision, as it has always been, lies with the masses.
My advice is for young people to stop being cynical and start to organize themselves into relevant groups so as to take full advantage of the legislation. Except of course you agree with the general notion that you are only fit for night clubs, social media slaying and yahoo yahoo.
Adeshina Peter, @Shina_Pitta on Twitter