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Reps step down bill seeking age limit for political office holders

Access Bank

A Bill for an Act to alter the 1999 Constitution, to put an age limit on aspirants seeking political offices in the country, has been stepped down at the House of Representatives.

The bill, which sought to peg the maximum age for politicians vying for offices, was sponsored by Bede Eke (PDP-Imo) at the plenary on Wednesday.

Earlier slated for second reading, the bill was met with stiff opposition by lawmakers who were opposed to the age limit in the political sphere.

Leading the debate on the bill, Mr Eke said that though the house had passed the Not-too-Young-to-run bill, the political sphere was still being occupied by the aged.

He said that the bill, when passed, would make the youth in the country happy, in response to their demand for inclusiveness during the #EndSARS protest.

The lawmaker said that youth were not only the leaders of tomorrow but that of today as well.

Mr. Bede said that the bill sought to peg the age for presidential aspirants at 70 and 65 for members of the National Assembly.

The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) said that the bill be stepped down to allow for more consultations.

He said that Section 42 of the Constitution prohibited any form of discrimination against any Nigerian, irrespective of age or gender.

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Jide Jimoh (APC-Lagos) said that the sponsor of the bill had good intentions but that the bill was not properly packaged.

Mr. Jimoh advised that the bill be stepped down or be put to a voice vote for the ruling of the speaker.

Uzoma Nkem-Abonta (PDP-Abia) said Nigerian laws made adequate provisions for youth participation in politics.

He said that at the age of 35, any Nigerian was allowed to vie for any office at the National Assembly and that at the age of 40, anyone could become a state governor.

Mr.  Nkem-Abonta said that rather than throwing away the wisdom of Nigerians in their 70s from the political sphere, the age limit should be reviewed downward to accommodate young people in their 20s.

The Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP-Delta), said that the bill should be allowed to pass for second reading.

He said that at the committee level, the age limit should be further reviewed to accommodate youth in their 20s rather than preventing the elderly from occupying political offices.

Ahmed Jaha (APC-Borno) also said that the bill should be stepped down for further consultations.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the house, Femi Gbajabiamila, stepped down the bill for further consultations.

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