Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has explained why the 35 years age requirement for the Senate and governorship position was not reduced when the Not Too Young To Run bill was passed by the National Assembly.
In a statement signed on Friday by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, Ekweremadu said it was to correct the initial disparity in the 1999 Constitution between the age requirement for the Senate and the Presidency.
The bill was passed by the National Assembly last year to alter Sections 65, 106, 131, 177 of the constitution, and it sought to reduce the age qualification for president from 40 to 30; Governor from 35 to 30; Senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25.
However, in the assented bill, the age qualification for Governor and Senate was retained at 35 years.
Ekweremadu also stated that Section 146 (1) provides that the Vice-President shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with section 143 of the Constitution.
“However, Section 146 (2) further provides that where any vacancy occurs in the circumstances mentioned in Sub-section 1 during a period when the office of Vice-President is also vacant, the President of the Senate shall hold the office of President for a period of not more than three months, during which there shall be an election of a new President, who shall hold office for the unexpired term of office of the last holder of the office’.
“So, since the President of the Senate, a Senator, could become an Acting President by happenstance, it is only right that the qualification for both offices are the same,” he said.
Speaking on the retention of age qualification for the office of the Governor, Ekweremadu said the majority opinion was that 35 years should be ideal for now to enable the would-be governors, to garner the requisite experience.
“However, the Not-Too-Young-To-Run amendment is just one giant step forward. It is not the end of the road, but just the beginning of the road. It is not an end in itself, but a means to an end.
“I believe that anyone, who is 18 years old and qualified to vote should also be qualified to stand for an election. This is our ultimate target and I believe we will get there. So, it is work in progress because constitution amendment is a continuum,” he said.