A Youth group tagged, YouthNext on Thursday embarked on a rally to the Lagos State House of Assembly, urging members of the House to domesticate ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill’ passed by the National Assembly as well as a bill on independent candidacy.
The protesters, who chanted various solidarity songs which include “All we are saying, give us a chance,” and “Youths, we want to lead,” also carried placards with various inscriptions to drive home their demands.
Inscriptions in the placards include: Youths Next, the Future is now”, “Youths are able and strong, we deserve to rule’’, and “Screw your Goliath, we are ready to take over’’.
Others are: “The time has come for our voices to be heard”, “Youths, let’s us unite and discard tribalism and Youths, don’t let yourself be used among others”.
In her address, Mrs Moremi Ojudu, the Coordinator of the group said that the time had come to the youths to take position of leadership, saying youths are able, strong, energetic and intellectually vibrant to lead.
As the spokesperson for the group who all dressed in black, Ojudu said that the way forward for the nation was to take away all impediments on the way for the youths to take over, adding “YouthNext is an organization which centers on engaging youths in politics on the need for them to get involved in politics. We are out to ensure that we have a good representation of youths at all levels of government.
“The Not Too Young To Run Bill” has been passed by the National Assembly, we are here to urge members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to make sure that the bill is domesticated here. Here we are saying no to the use of youths as thugs, electioneering machinery. We say no to the abuse of youths. We want recognition as people we can sit down on the same table and rule.
“We want to rule ourselves. We say no to the hoodlums, we have the energy, we have the vibrancy. We are tired and by 2019, we will vote for ourselves. Youths should get voice. We want youths as political aspirants in all levels. We have no money, but we get energy. We don’t want old people again to rule us. We are saying that the independence candidature bill must be passed and be domesticated here in Lagos,” she said.
The group also appealed to the lawmakers to ensure that the Lagos State Independence Electoral Commission (LASIEC) had an independent voice, saying the last council polls in the state had many flaws.
The protesters urged the House to prevail on their political parties to ensure rebate in nomination form for the youths to curb the challenge of finance dissuading many youths from participating in politics.
The youths urged the lawmakers to empower the youths and bring them up to take over position of leadership.
Addressing the protesters, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said: “You have done what is decent in a democratic setting by coming to bear out your minds.
“Your aspirations have gone viral and have been supported by a lot of people. The Lagos Assembly also participated in the preliminary conferences leading to what is presently happening in the National Assembly. The two issues you raised, have scaled through the National Assembly and States Assembly have the knowledge.
“Though, we cannot vouch 100 per cent support by all state Houses of Assembly but the Lagos Assembly has been a progressive assembly led by progressive elements. So, everything progressive, we will support.
“The advocacy you brought here, we are assuring you that as regards the age (Not Too Young To Run Bill) and Independent candidacy, the Assembly will sit on it and take a position, but be assure that we will take progressive position.”
Agunbiade, however, said that the issue of domestication raised by the protesters was not an issue, saying that once amendments scaled through state houses of assembly, it would become laws for all.
He added: “It is a constitutional issue, everybody is bound by it. The issue of domestication does not come into it. The issue is adherence to the tenets of the constitution.
The lawmaker, however, said for the country to move forward, youths should talk to themselves, saying that so many youths did not want empowerment.
On youths being used as thugs, Agunbiade urged the youths not to offer themselves as instrument for violence or thuggery by anybody.
He urged the youths to sensitize and mobilize themselves and join political parties, saying that no one would deny them if they met constitutional requirements.
For a better society.