The youngest member of the Council of State Dr. Nii Kotei Dzani is advocating for a reduction in the age for people eyeing the presidency of Ghana.
According to the president of Groupe Ideal, it is about time Ghana follows the example of Canada, France, New Zealand and allow people younger than age 40 to run for the highest office of the land as President.
Speaking at the inauguration of the Young Parliamentarians Forum at the Speaker’s Lounge, Parliament House, Dr Dzani challenged the young Parliamentarians present to begin the debate as to whether 40 is the right age to run for Presidency in Ghana.
“We need to spark up the debate on the appropriate age for Presidency in this country. As young parliamentarians, the ball is in your court. It is up to you to bring it before the House, start a conversation,” he said.
Dr Dzani expressed concern that Ghana; the gateway to Africa, in the 21st century, with all the technology and exposure has still not been able to take a step which “our counterparts in Europe began in the 18th Century”.
“In 1783, William Pitt The Younger became the British Prime Minister at the age of 24, why not us? Think about it and do something about it,” he advised the young Parliamentarians
Citing examples of young leaders around the world, Dr Dzani said “Indeed, the World over, young people are leading the way. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada at the age of 37 years of age. President Macron became President of France at age 39. Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern was elected at 37 years of age in 2017.”
Dr. Dzani explained that it is possible for young people to take their place at the decision making table because he and many others around the world have been able to do it. Being elected to serve on the Council of State at the age of 37, makes him the youngest person to serve in this capacity in Ghana.
“Before my election to the Council of State, the assumption was that only old people could serve in that capacity, I am happy I got the chance to make history, as the youngest person to be elected as member of the Council of State in the commonwealth and I know that whether or not other young people will get the chance to serve on the Council depends on how I serve,” he said.
As the name suggests, the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) is a new non-partisan Union of the parliament of Ghana to further the agenda of young people in Parliament. The 2016 general election saw a substantial change in the country’s governance.
The New Parliament of Ghana, which is the 7th in the 4th Republic, is made up of relatively younger legislators. This is as a result of the high number of young new entrants that won the elections in their respective constituencies, the YPF is therefore a body representing them.
The occasion was graced by the presence of the Speaker of Parliament; Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, the first deputy speaker ; Joseph Osei Owusu, , Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu , the Clerk to Parliament Mr Emmanuel Anyimadu, Dep Majority Leader Adjoa Safo and other MPs.
The Speaker of Parliament also shared a word of encouragement to the young parliamentarians in attendance and pledged his support for the YPF.
“The future belongs to young people. There is no alternative to this, not having the youth is for the future to perish. As Speaker, I will support the YPF, we will find resources both home and abroad to ensure that this forum succeeds,” he promised.
Prof Oquaye also advised members of the YPF to ensure that they avail themselves to mentorship whenever they got the opportunity.