Why Age Reduction For Political Office Is NOT Enough...



Recently, a bill promoted by some young Nigerians to reduce the age for running for policial office in the country passed its second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill which seeks to reduce the minimum age bracket for running for political office to 25 years was made popular via the hashtag #NotTooYoungToRun on social media.

With much applause and acclaim, and at the risk of sounding like an Oliver Twist, I choose to differ.

I think, reducing the age for running for political office in Nigeria is NOT enough.

If we consider the fact that age alone is not the only or major barrier limiting the emergence of young, viable Nigerians seeking to serve in Nigeria's political stratosphere.

There are two major issues still left unaddressed: Cost of Running for Political Office as well as Independent Candidature.

First of all, the cost of purchasing candidacy form from the average political party in Nigeria for the position of governor, for instance, goes for between N5 million and N18 million.

Instances in the past have arisen where politicians have sought loans even from commercial banks just to purchase forms and to "settle delegates" and all the political exigencies, yet eventually lost.

Obviously, if such an individual were to be voted in, his first priority would be to recover his "investment" and pay back his loan before anything else, thus making him more likely to loot than serve.

Secondly, the Electoral Act as it presently is does not support independent candidacy.

As a result, if an aspiring politician does not find a party with an ideology, vision or leadership that aligns with his own, that politician is more likely to abandon the effort or be compelled to fit into the mould of any available party where he/she can find acceptance.

This is why I personally believe that reducing the age requirement for aspiring political office holders is not enough.

Let's also look at a bill to compel a reduction in the cost of running for office, cost of campaigns as well as the issue of independent candidature and see how we could review these to encourage more inclusion in the political process.

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