The Not-too-young-to-run bill that has just been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari has sparked a fresh row between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The opposition party yesterday faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s joke that youths should not contest next year’s presidential election with him, but wait till 2023.
Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr.Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement in Abuja accused Buhari and the APC of frustrating the active participation of youths and women in active politics and governance. He said the President’s statement underscored APC’s policy of not allowing young people aspire to top positions in the country. But the APC, in a swift reaction by its chief spokesman, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said the PDP should stop playing divisive politics over the sponsorship of the bill. PDP’s statement had said: “It is unimaginable that a President can sign a law and immediately seek to suspend it.
“President Buhari’s attempt to talk down on and intimidate the youths from contesting against him in 2019 shows that he is not in support of the Not Too Young To Run law and only assented to it because he had no other option under the 1999 Constitution (as amended).“We therefore urge Nigerians to be alert and wary of booby traps as well as land mines that the APC and the
Presidency will set on the way to scuttle the quest for our youths to fully participate and aspire in our democratic process.” Also reacting to the President’s message, the National Youth Leader of the PDP, Mr. Sunday Ude-Okoye, said the party would continue to champion the cause of young persons in the country. Ude-Okoye told reporters in Abuja that the party appointed many young persons into sensitive positions during its 16-year reign
APC’s spokesman Abdullahi, however, said the signing of the bill into law is “indeed another promise kept by the President during his 2018 Democracy Day address and in our 2015 APC election manifesto in which we promised to provide the opportunities for youths to realise, harness, and develop their full potential and to facilitate the emergence of a new generation of citizens committed to the sustenance of good governance and service to the people and the country.” He hailed Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara under whose leadership the Bill was passed in the National Assembly .
He said the massive support the Bill received, particularly from APC members in the National Assembly, “speaks volume of the progressive ideals the party continues to identify with and champion, irrespective of partisan considerations and interests. “This is indeed a major milestone in advocacy efforts to ensure increased participation and inclusion of marginalised groups, in this case the youth in Nigerian politics. “The youth comprise roughly half of the Nigerian population. It is only right that they take their rightful place within party leadership structures and elective positions at all levels.
“We are confident that the new law will inspire a new thinking among many Nigerian youths pertaining to their roles in elections and politics. “Youths should not be used as disruptive elements, thugs and social media mobs. It is possible for young people to lead politically and occupy elective positions.”