When was the last time you shouted: “up NEPA!”? Despite the fact that NEPA is no longer so-called, now and then, shouts of “up NEPA!” can be heard when the Nigerian gods of power deem it fit to illuminate our living spaces — even if only for a few minutes.
The Senate’s passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill yesterday was almost like the experience of suddenly having electric power restored after days of agonising blackout: sweet, euphoric and, if care is not taken, short-lived.
While not trying to rain on anyone’s parade of joy, I will advise caution in our rejoicing because when it comes to the politics of #ConstitutionAmendment, it’s #NotYetUhuru.
Before any constitution amendment can take effect, the National Assembly needs to agree on this, (so far, only the Senate has passed this bill) not less than 24 State Houses of Assembly need to concur and, finally, the President must sign off.
So far, seeing how the bill that was debated in the Senate was a harmonised document by both chambers of the National Assembly, we can almost say with all confidence that the House of Representatives will toe the path of their comrades in the Red Chamber.
The first battle, therefore, is with the State Houses of Assembly. Now, because we know that in our dear Nigeria, a State House of Assembly is more often than not a mere appendage of the Governor’s office, the people that need convincing to pass this bill are the Governors themselves. Once convinced, they will ‘instruct’ their State Assemblies to vote ‘aye’.
We have seen this before.
Back in 2015, 20 State Assemblies — including Lagos — rejected a proposal to grant Local Governments some level of autonomy. This was against the tide of the nation’s mood on this issue. However, like the demi gods they usually are, the governors had their way, and the state legislators bowed to their pressure.
Fast forward to 2017, and we might just see this happening again. If for some weird reason, less than 24 State Governors do not think that young people are fit to lead this nation, the #NotTooYoungToRun bill will be dead on arrival, just as the Local Government Autonomy proposal bill did, two years ago.
It is therefore up to those who are passionate about seeing young people in leadership to understand that the real battle has just begun. It is time to take this campaign to the local level and put as much pressure as we can on our State Governors and legislators in order to make them align with the Senate on this all-important bill.
If we do not, we just might risk a situation where our joy, just like our power supply, will be short-lived.