The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday stated that age should not be a major factor for those aspiring to hold public offices in the country, stressing that competence should be the main consideration irrespective of the aspirants’ age.
The Vice President, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, spoke when he received a delegation of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Group at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He stated that while it was necessary for young people to be able to run for public offices in the country, it was equally important for them to have the required skills that would prepare them for public service.
Osinbajo said young people needed the requisite training to hold public offices the same way they needed training to become professionals in their different fields.
He urged them to develop their capacities and skills in different areas so as to contribute to issues of leadership, governance, national development and the economy.
His words, “I think that whatever age a person chooses to run for office should not matter at all; that for me is a fundamental principle, it really doesn’t matter, even if you are much younger or older in age.
“The more important issue, my worry always is so much about the preparedness of young people, the preparedness of anyone, young or old.
“It is the same way that if you are going to be a pilot or medical doctor, you need to get some training, by devoting your time and resources to a call. Even football requires skills.
“Practically in any field, you are required to show competence. And in our developing economy, there is need for us to set the bar much higher, not in terms of age, but in terms of competence. We need to set the bar because we are a developing economy, because we don’t have the time to waste on mediocrity.”
The Vice-President cited himself as an example of how to be prepared for public office.
He recalled that he had the privilege of serving in government since when he was 30 years old.
He added, “I have many young people working with me in this office in different departments, and all of them are highly competent. I also had the opportunity of serving in government when I was 30 years old. I was adviser to the then Attorney General of the Federation and I was teaching at the university then.
“When I became Attorney General about 12 years later in Lagos State, I was a trained Attorney General. So, I had working knowledge. We need competence in the same way that we take on issues in our different professions.
“I visited tech hubs in Lagos during the week; incredible work is being done by young people who have devoted their time and resources.
“So, I would say that if you are interested in public service, that same kind of commitment can be devoted so when we are discussing very critical issues of economy and governance, we would be able to say this is the work plan.
“It is incredible what can be achieved but we need to have people who are articulating strong positions on issues.”
Osinbajo also called on young Nigerians to support the ongoing fight against corruption by the federal government.
In his remarks, leader of the delegation who is also the Executive Director, Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, thanked Osinbajo for being a strong advocate of young people in the country.
Itodo noted that the Vice President had continued to demonstrate his belief in the potential and talents of young Nigerians in different areas of the economy.
“We are quite excited to see a significant number of young people working in the Office of the Vice-President. Your Excellency, it shows to a great extent that there is commitment on your part to engage young people,” Itodo said.
The Not-Too-Young-To-Run campaign is based on a bill that seeks to alter some sections of the 1999 Constitution to reduce the age limit for running for elective office in Nigeria. The bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is now awaiting presidential assent.