By Rafiu Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - A bill to lower the eligibility age and allow independent candidacies for Nigeria's political offices is gaining steam, especially among younger Nigerians seeking a greater say in the political process.
Popularly known as the #NotTooYoungToRun bill, the proposal is trending on Nigerian social media as proponents drum up support and urge people to sign a petition in support of the measure, currently bearing over 700 signatures.
The bill has passed first reading in the House of Representatives, sponsored by Tony Nwulu, a lawmaker representing the southwestern Oshodi/Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos state. It seeks to reduce the age qualification for the office of the president from 40 years to 30, for the office of governor from 35 to 30, for senators from 35 to 30, for members of the House of Representatives from 30 to 25, and for members of the State Houses of Assembly from 30 to 25.
Nwulu, a first-time lawmaker elected on the platform of the opposition Peoples Democracy Party (PDP), said sponsoring the bill seeks to "deepen political participation" as well as allow youth to have fair representation in government.
This bill, if passed, will also allow for independent candidacies. At present, nobody unaffiliated with a registered political party can run for political office in Nigeria.
The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), a pro-democracy movement for younger people, hailed the bill as "necessary and timely."
"A society that cuts off its youths severs its lifeline," the group said in an online campaign for the bill.
"The bill will deepen intergenerational dialogue as more youths will gain access to the political process for more adult-youth engagement and partnership," the group added in a statement to Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
Twitter user Jerry Agenyi has signed the petition saying, "Young people are intelligent and sophisticated for our current realities. Let's Leverage. I stand with #NotTooYoungToRun."