The Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement on Thursday condemned the usage of its platform by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to declare his presidential ambition.
Saraki had at a meeting with the members of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement declared his interest in the 2019 presidential race.
But the group in a statement signed by one of its Conveners, Samson Itodo, said it was displeased with the use of its platform by Saraki to declare his ambition without prior consultation.
The statement said: “The movement wishes to express its disappointment with Senator Saraki for usurping a platform designed for young aspirants to dialogue with party leadership, to advance his political ambition.
“We strongly condemn this act by the President of the Senate and dissociate ourselves from this political move.
“As noted earlier, the movement reaffirms its identity as a non-partisan citizen-led movement dedicated to the defense of democracy, political inclusion and transformative leadership.
“The movement restates its commitment to sustain its engagement with political parties to ensure youth candidacy and democratic primaries by the parties.”
The group said as part of efforts to promote youth candidacy and democratic primaries, it had commenced series of public town hall meetings with the leadership of political parties and young aspirants.
According to it, this is to address the challenges faced by young aspirants in securing party tickets.
It said the movement had scheduled three town hall meetings with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and other parties.
It stated that while one of the town hall meetings was going on in Abuja, Saraki declared his intention to run for the office of the president in the 2019 elections.
It restated its commitment to sustain engagement with political parties to ensure youth candidacy and democratic primaries by political parties.
It said that the first dialogue held on Thursday in Abuja with the leadership of the PDP, adding that the event was attended by Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus; Saraki; and National Youth Leader of the party, Udeh Okoye.
The group disclosed that young aspirants advocated for reduction in the cost of parties nomination forms and requested PDP to uphold internal democracy in the conduct of its primaries.
Meanwhile, Saraki has apologised for using Thursday’s forum to declare his ambition.
In a statement in the early hours of Friday, Saraki’s spokesman, Yusuph Olaniyonu, apologised for the development, saying it was not meant to embarrass anyone.
The statement said: “It has been brought to our attention that the Not Too Young Run group has issued a statement in relation to the announcement made by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, whilst addressing the PDP members and aspirants of the group.
“The occasion was first in a series of Dialogues organised by the Not Too Young To Run along Party lines. The first one is for young PDP aspirants. The subsequent ones are designed for the APC and other parties.
“It is true that the Not Too Young To Run leadership had no prior knowledge of the content of the Senate President’s remarks. However, the announcement by the Senate President that he intends to throw his hat into the ring to contest for the Presidency was made in good faith to young PDP aspirants, partly as a symbolic act of encouragement.
“It was not the intent of the Senate President to put the group or its leadership in an invidious position. The Senate President appreciates the contribution of the group to the development of our democracy and will continue to work closely with young people across the country in order to make Nigeria a better place for all.”