A constitutional lawyer, Prince Orji Nwafor-Orizu, has commended the legislature and executive for passing the Not Too Young to Run bill into law.
Nwafor-Orizu urged the lawmakers and those who have the interest of the country and Nigerians at heart to continue the struggle until universal adult suffrage was strictly adhered to in the country in line with international practice.
He said this in a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja.
The lawyer said the signing of the Bill into law showed that Nigeria was on its march through political highway to democracy.
According to him, the signing of the bill into law was a sign that the president and legislature have the interest of the youths at heart.
He noted that the development would motivate young and energetic Nigerians into governance of the country as is done in other countries of the world.
The statement reads: “Nigeria is on its march through the political highway to democracy. Politicians and political parties may claim that they initiated or signed the Bill into Law. They may however be right or wrong, but all I know is that 1999 constitution and constitutions in Nigeria pegging age limit has been issue of discourse among Nigerians over the years.
“This popular and people-oriented Bill/Net must in our political history as one of the greatest achievements of the National Assembly and the Presidency in this administration. It is a sign that both arms have interest of the youth at heart. I wish such national issues will always bring their patriotic minds together.
“I urge the National Assembly to look into this Act with eye for further amendments. The present amendment on age is discretionary and not backed by any scientific or constitutional consideration or international practice.
“Nigerian Constitution and Electoral Laws peg the age of voting at 18 years. This is the scientific age adopted by the international practice as age of reason which is referred to as Universal Adult Suffrage. This is the age to vote and be voted for as accepted in the political clime all over the world.
“By limiting age to hold political office to 25 years, Nigerian government is sending wrong signal to its citizens and the world that Nigerians have shifted their Universal Adult Suffrage from 18 years to 25.
“If 25 years is the age of reasoning in Nigeria, then persons between the ages of 18 and 24 are not expected to vote for the office of state House of assembly or indeed any office. If one can’t be voted for because of underage, that person can’t vote for another who is older.
“Again, if the National Assembly is bold enough to go against international practice and peg the lower age, the legislature should also peg the upper age limit or it will become discriminatory.
“My suggestion is that the law should be brought in line with Adult Suffrage. The electorate is to choose whom they want. There may be 23 or 24 years old or even 18 years candidate preferred to an older person.”