Image by Kabusa16, from Wikimedia Commons.  Accessed 09.07.2018

 

In May 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari signed a law reducing the candidacy age for several political positions, including the presidency. The bill paves the way for individuals under the 30 to run for political office.

In a country where more than 60% of the population is below the age of 25, Nigeria’s political sphere has long been dominated by the older generation, and the country’s youth has been left largely marginalised from entering either state or federal politics (UN, 03.04.2017). Since the return of a democratically elected civilian government in 1999, Nigeria’s presidents have all been over the age of 55, with the exception of Goodluck Jonathan, who was a youthful 49 when he was sworn in as Acting President following President Umaru Yar'Adua's death on 5th May 2010.

Current President Muhammadu Buhari was 72 when he assumed office – already making him Nigeria’s oldest ever president; he will be 76 when he vies for a second term in February 2019. While the youngest current member of national parliament is just under 40 (tori, 03.11.2015).

With a burgeoning young population – Nigeria’s median age is just 18, according to the World Health Organisation – the election of Buhari in 2015 merely served to illustrate how disengaged Nigerian politics has become, sparking the creation of the Not Too Young to Run (NTYTR) campaign, which sought to lower the minimum age at which a Nigerian citizen can run for political office to at least 25.

While the new law has all the hallmarks of political altruism; there are many indications that it was a strategic APC ploy to boost Buhari’s chances of re-election in 2019.