BETWEEN JEWELL JONES AND #NotTooYoungToRun CAMPAIGN: LESSONS FOR YOUTH CIVIC PARTICIPATION

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Today, I am motivated by the exploits of Councilman Jewell Jones. Unpopular name, right? But he is just 21, and a history maker.

While the world awaited the emergence of a new #POTUS, Jewell Jones made history by becoming the youngest State Representative in Michigan. He is not just the youngest democratic lawmaker, but also the youngest black lawmaker in America.

Michigan’s 11th District seat became vacant following the sudden demise of former representative Julie Plawecki earlier this year. But Jewell Jones surmounted the challenge of 60-year old Republican Robert Pope to emerge victorious in the November 8 election.

Jones first made political history in 2015 when he became the youngest councilman at 20.

He is currently enrolled as a full-time student at University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is double majoring in Political Science and Finance.

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Jewell Jones was 20 when he became a Councilman in the Inkster City Council

Jones’ secret is ‘I have always been involved.’ He further added: ‘Young people must stop talking about the problem and start talking about the solution. Start speaking words of victory.”

As an ardent disciple of youth engagement and participation in civic causes, Jones is a catalyst and example to all young people, especially in Africa. He has shown that it is possible. It is important that the voice of young people in Nigeria and Africa is heard loud and clear.

If you are a Nigerian, you have to be involved in the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. This bill seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement for elective offices in Nigeria; for the office of President from 40 to 30 years, Governors 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State Houses of Assembly 35 to 30 years. The ultimate goal of the bill is to promote and increase youth participation in the political process.

Currently, the bill is before the committee on constitutional review in the National Assembly. But it needs at least two-thirds of the House of Representatives (240 members) and the Senate (72 Senators) to agree to the amendment, and at least two-thirds of the state houses of assembly to concur to the amendment for it to become law.

The momentum gained by the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign provides an opportunity for youths and youth organizations to engage the government in the spirit of public participation, inclusiveness, representation and national ownership.

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How can young people participate in this process? You can participate by:

  1. Calling your legislators and asking them to support and vote for the #NotTooYoungToRun bill. You can equally send an SMS or letter to them. You can also contact them on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Participating in public hearings and constituency engagement on constitutional amendment.
  3. Organizing an advocacy visit to your legislators, mobilizing youths for a rally to the National Assembly or State House of Assembly, debate the principles of the bill within your networks using online and offline platforms.

We do have a spot at the table. But we have to go to the table, have a seat with grown people and start a true conversation to get our points across, because young people need to be represented. Together, we can build the team, change the culture and lay the foundation for the society we want.

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