President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday made a case for the amendment of the nation’s constitution to abolish the age limit for anybody aspiring to become the President of the country.
The Constitution currently stipulates 40 years as the minimum age for anybody seeking the highest office in the land.
But Jonathan said the age limit was a discrimination against Nigerian youths who he said have all the wherewithals to rule the country.
Jonathan made his position known at an international youth summit organised by the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said if a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), could rule the country at the age of 32, there was nothing wrong in giving youths a chance to lead.
While urging the youth, who attended the summit with the theme “Capacity for Change for a New Nigeria” to initiate a bill to the National Assembly for the amendment of the provision, Jonathan promised to support such a step.
The President said, “The youths have no limit in terms of number and capacity to lead this country to greatness. The only limit is that for youths to contest as President, they need to be 40.
“If Gen. Yakubu Gowon was able to rule this country at 32, there is no reason why the youths should not be given the chance.
“I think what the youth should do now is to come together, and I will support you, and take a bill to the National Assembly to amend some discriminatory provisions of the constitution in terms of age.’’
Jonathan pledged that his administration would continue to come up with policies that would be favourable to the youths.
He listed some of the programmes already put in place by the Federal Government to harness youths’ potential to include YouWin, SURE-P, Graduate Internship Scheme and the Community Service Programme, among others.
Jonathan, while observing that youths were making the nation proud in all spheres, argued that those who beat the drums of war in the country were the old people.
He said young people are not part of those who, by their utterances, are trying to divide the country along ethnic and religious lines.
“I always say that whenever you read newspapers, watch television or listen to the radios, those who preach hate, quarrel and try to divide us on the basis of ethnicity and religion are not the young people but grandfathers,” he noted.
The President said experience had shown him that the youths are comfortable living with people of different ethnic groups or religions, unlike the elderly people.
“The youths live with whomever they are comfortable with regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation; they want to marry whomever they love.
“They are not like those old people who are disturbing us, who want to divide us based on religion and all kinds of sentiments,” he said.