As the 2019 elections approach, various youth groups in the country have expressed readiness to effect generational power shift, sending a signal to old politicians that they would be disgraced in the forthcoming elections.
Latching on to former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s call last week on youths to democratically wrest power from old politicians, they said older generation of politicians should give them a chance or the youths would utilize their numerical straight to vote them out of office. Arewa Youths Leader, Yerima Shetima, said: “Come 2019, they would be disgraced if they participate in politics.
We constitute 65 or 70 per cent of votes in the country and we will ensure that our votes go to ensure that we have order in this country.
We will disgrace them in 2019. We will make sure they are massively embarrassed.“ Obasanjo, at the Youth Governance Dialogue in Abeokuta, Ogun State, last week, said since the old guards are unwilling to quit the stage and would not give leadership positions to the youths on a platter of gold, it was high time the youths picked the gauntlet.
”Nobody will choose you; you have to choose yourself. Why can’t you become president at the age 40? Why can’t you become president at the age of 35?
Why can’t you become president at the age of 30? General Gowon became Head of State at 33. I became Head of State at 39. And it is because of my track record. But how are you prepared? Are you really prepared?” he challenged the youths.
Expressing youths’ readiness for the challenge, Yerima said, “The likes of Obasanjo should go back to their homes and relax and be ready to offer useful advice when necessary to younger generation of leaders, on technical matters on governance. We will learn some lessons from their history, but we would not work in line with what they did during their tenure.”
Ohanaeze Youth Leader, Chukwuma Okparaezeukwu, in a similarly vein, said the youths feel greatly challenged by the call. “We are not only challenged, but highly encouraged, motivated and feel reawakened.
It is a call for a positive, diplomatic and sustainable revolution. It must not be the regular revolution that comes by force or bloodshed, but one that comes with strategy, raising youth’s consciousness and participation.
“However, as much as we feel highly motivated by former President Obasanjo’s statement, we the youths must wake up and embrace our responsibility because this is our time.
Otherwise, the next generation will vilify us the way we do the older generation today.
“You see, for now, some of the youths have allowed themselves to be used by the current crop of politicians to dish out hate speeches which polarise the youth groups across the country. But we will narrow this gap in the current reawakening towards the current move in order to work strategically and work in unity towards the goal.”
Also, Protem National Chairman, Alliance for New Nigeria, (ANN) a political association seeking Independent National Electoral Commission’s registration, Dr. Jay Osi Samuels, said, “The statement is not only appropriate but timely, because we, the youths, can no longer wait for them to give power to us, rather we are stepping out to grab it from them.”
He said the declaration was in tandem with the “objectives for the ANN, “because we are creating a credible platform apart from all the other platforms that are being managed by the older politicians.
That platform is what we will use to actualize our goals of grabbing power from the old generation. It is a movement being created for the new leaders of Nigeria. Samuels, a Harvardtrained medical doctor, said the youths have the numerical advantage. “Potentially, we have the bigger number.
I mean the youths constitute majority of the eligible voting age in Nigeria, but what we have witnessed over the years have led to loss of faith in the political system in Nigeria, but what we are going about to let people know is that they cannot just despair, they cannot lose hope, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if we put our acts together, we can collectively take over the reins of power from these older generation of leaders.
Reminded of the role Obasanjo played in the election of Buhari, who belonged to the older generation politicians, he said: “We are not relying on any past leader…
We are not relying on anybody, what we are doing is that we want to show that with or without them, we can do it by ourselves. They themselves got into power years ago, when they were even younger than us.
So we are taking the bull by the horns, with or without their support, we are going to achieve our aim.
The Presiding Minister of Trinity Center, Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, joined his voice, but was quick to add that anyone of the age of 35 and below cannot rule the nation for now because such a person will be too young for governance at that level. “From my own personal perspective, youths of ages 30 and 35 might be too young for president. The ideal age will be between the ages of 45 to 55.
That sort of person has seen life to an extent, made some mistakes, has fallen, risen and still has the energy to run around and still has reasonable contact base. We can go as low as 41, 42, 43; but not 30.
The world view of anyone of that age is not as broad,” he said.
Ighodalo however, warned that no room should be left for any particular group of persons to anoint a youth for presidency in the manner that so-called godfathers in the Nigerian political space have been doing in the past, insisting also that power is never relinquished but consciously taken by anyone who is truly interested and makes himself available for service.
Ighodalo said the space “is wide open for any serious person, youth or not, that truly wants to get involved and get closer to the people and offer their service to the people, urging such people to start from the grassroots to learn and be ready to make their way up.
They should join any party of their choice, become important in the parties and get selected for position and bit by bit money politics and god-fatherism will fade.
It is not going to be a short run but they will get there.” “From my own personal perspective, youths of ages 30 and 35 might be too young for president.
The ideal age will be between the ages of 45 to 55. That sort of person has seen life to an extent, made some mistakes, has fallen, risen and still has the energy to run around and still has reasonable contact base. We can go as low as 41, 42, 43; but not 30. The world view of anyone of that age is not as broad,” he said.
Mr. Gbadabo Rhodes- Vervor, a youth in his early 30s who contested for the chairmanship in Ikeja Local Government in Lagos State, recently on the platform of the KOWA Party, scoring less than 1,000 votes, said “We, as a generation, need to get more involved, not just on whatssapp groups or on other social media, but in our communities and people in our wards….political participation is not just about running, political participation is diverse.
“Youths can either contest or sponsor political party/candidates whom they believe in their ideals. They must also join a political party and be active and most importantly register to vote for folks they believe in on election day,” He said the youths need to actively start making a difference in the communities so that they can become influencers.