After 53 years of independence, Nigerian youths are yet to be practically involved in piloting the affairs of the country. CHIBUNMA UKWU writes on the youths’ call on the authorities to allow them have their place in the leadership sphere
It’s often said that the youths are the leaders of tomorrow. The saying has remained a maxim until recently when youths indeed started raising calls to be integrated into the decision making bodies of the nation.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Sunday, President, National Youth Council of Nigeria, Abdullahi Abdulmajeed stated that youths have not been effectively carried along when it comes to leadership. According to him, there is need for the youths to become part of the critical decision making body as that would help them make impact on their today and the Nigerian future that they would inherit.
“By talking about youth involvement in leadership, we mean having youths as part of the critical decision making body that impact on our today and the future that we will inherit. We are talking about youths having the opportunity to participate at every level of policy making and implementation. We mean having youths at the various strata that make up the leadership of this country. Whichever way you want to look at it, when we talk about the three tiers of government, there are very few places where the youths of this country have got a say. By so saying, it is clear to every discerning mind, that the youths of this country are not part of the leadership of Nigeria.”
Giving an age bracket of the youths that is being referred to, Mr Abdulmajeed stated clearly that the Nigerian constitution defined youths as young people within the ages of 18 to 35 years of age. He went further to lament that these set of people are not well represented in the three tiers of the government.
“They are very few. When you look at the number of people you have in the National Assembly, I doubt if we have up to 10 per cent of those persons who fall within the ages of 18 to 35 and that is why at the just concluded exercise of constitutional amendment, which NASS is doing, the youths were invited to the various public hearings and one of the issues that we advocated was the issue of proportional representation. When a particular strata of a society has been deprived and marginalised for a long period of time, it is not possible for you to one day say that you want to reduce the gap or the vacuum that has existed overtime and expect the vacuum to be filled up immediately.”
Stressing the need for youths to be involved in Leadership, a peace ambassador who simply gave his name as Sule lamented the rate at which youths are used as instruments of social vices by the leaders that should mentor them well and entrust headship to them.
According to him, the youths are negatively used, they are given money to buy drugs and at the end of the day, they are rejected. Look at youth unemployment, youth restiveness, kidnapping in the south, militancy, oil theft, violence from Boko Haram, so all these things are not good for us as a country. This, he said, is the reason he has been involved in creating awareness that would help youths be aware of their rights and thus, stop giving themselves as instruments of social vices and violence.
“We cannot allow these leaders to destroy our future. They have enjoyed Nigeria from 1960 up till this day. With due respect, it is unacceptable for this age. Look at other African countries, even China, North and South Korea they have the younger generations as part of the leadership and that is why they are moving on, they brainstorm through their affairs, so in Nigeria, they should also give youths chance so we can take our country to a higher level.”
Also affirming this, the chairman, Partners for electoral reform and a member of Civil Society Groups working on anti- corruption and good governance in Nigeria, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu appreciated the interest of the youths in participating in the leadership of the nation. However, he expressed regret over what he described as the nonchalant attitude of Nigerian youths towards developmental matters of the nation, and therefore urged them to make the choice of staying out of corruption by saying no to bad leadership examples. This, he said, they could do by taking advantage of the constitutional review process.
Ezenwa is not the only person that thinks in this line, the National President of the African Women Agribusiness Network, Mrs Yasmin Othman also thinks that youths should take certain actions to prove themselves worthy for inclusion in leadership of the nation.
She said, “we should not think of youths as falling from the sky, it starts from the foundation that we lay. Value system in the family, teaching professions and even in the church level contribute to moulding youths to worthy leaders that can take over headship in the nation. For example, when in schools, people are given such positions as headship of students union organisations, prefects, they are all part of the ways the youths can prove themselves. These leadership cannot happen in a vacuum.”
In same vein, a nollywood personlaty, Mr Dan Onuigbo commended youths for such desire but equally tasked them to rise up to the challenge if indeed they understand their demand. “Nigerian youths seem to be seated on a platform that questions their citizenry else why should they be making the demand to be involved in the leadership? As though they have sold their birthright in which case they cannot take it back? They need to take it and by this, it means that if this birthright is theirs, they should fight to take it. Thus, if Nigeria belongs to the youths, let them rise up, pay the price and take it, if they are not ready to pay the price to take it, then they are not worthy to receive it because you see, we are talking about a nation that is as big as this country?”
Telling of how endowed Nigeria is as a country, Mr Onuigbo further asserted that leadership cannot be entrusted in the hands of youths who have not proved themselves.
“There are so many resources in this nation both human and material, now you want us to commit them to a collection of imbeciles whose brains are not working? People who are not prepared to gather themselves and do something about what they represent? A lot of them go to school and come out with a degree they cannot defend and you want us to commit the future into their hands? It will not work. If they want it, then they should be qualified to get it and if they should get it, then they should come in the hallway, in the corridor of power and prove to everybody that they qualify to get it and that way, we can decide to give them a chance. The future is for people who are prepared. Thus, things are given to people who have proven that they want it.”
Calling to mind the fact that youths are the future of the nation, President, Board of Governing Council, Institute for Fraud Management and Control (IFMC), Dr Isidore Nwankwo acknowledged youths as stakeholders of this nation and called on the government to help in getting them prepared for headship of the country.
“It is right to involve our youths in the Leadership; they are the future of this nation. If they are taken away, then this nation does not have a future so the question should be, how do we get them involved? If they are not prepared, who will get them prepared? So the older generation will be making a very big mistake if they just write off the youths, they need to be prepared, they need to be focused and they need to be positioned.”