Green Nigeria, a coalition of young Nigerian professionals cutting across ethnic, religious and political party lines has called on Nigerian youths to take their destiny into their hands by participating more actively in politics and governance.
Reacting to recent opinion articles by the publishers of YNaija and SIGNAL, Chude Jideonwo and Ohimai Amaize respectively, as well as a follow-up article on Tuesday by Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, former Youth Development Minister and National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Green Nigeria said Nigerian youths have been kept on the wings of leadership for too long.
In a statement signed on behalf of the group by Tonye Isokariari on Thursday, Green Nigeria noted that “The combination of institutionalized youth exclusion, poverty, illiteracy, lack of equal access to opportunities and frustration with bad governance have conspired against the emergence of qualified and competent Nigerian youths in politics and governance”.
Calling on Nigerian youths to shun the sentiments of political party, ethnicity, religion, peer envy, greed, ‘my hustle is better than yours’ and other attitudes that have kept them perpetually as hustlers at the mercy of any government in power, the group said Nigerian youths must reject the notion among the elite class that the youths are incapable of leadership.
“Why are Nigerian youths allowed to vote at the age of 18 and then systematically prevented from running for office until over a decade later? Last year in Ghana, 23-year old Francisca Oteng Mensah was elected as a member of the Ghanaian Parliament. In Nigeria, she would have been told that she is the leader of tomorrow because of our youth-unfriendly laws that would have classified her as under-aged”, the group added.
“In Mali, Moussa Mara became Prime Minister in 2014 at the age of 29. In Sweden, Johan Gabriel Wikström was appointed Minister of Health in 2014 at the age of 29. Charles Michel is the Prime Minister of Belgium. He assumed office on October 11, 2014 at the age of 39. Irakli Garibashvili was appointed Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs in 2012 at the age of 30. In Canada, the current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assumed that office at the age of 43. How old was Anthony Enahoro when he moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence as a member of Parliament? How old was General Gowon when he became Head of State? In 1982, Audu Ogbeh was 35 when he was appointed Minister of Communications. Today, he is now Minister of Agriculture. And they say this generation of Nigerian youths is too young or unqualified?
“Enough of a political system that accepts the votes of young Nigerians every election year, pay them peanuts as political thugs and consultants during elections, discard them after elections and keep them in the waiting rooms and corridors of government offices for the next four years is not acceptable.
“Our leaders, the older generation and the Nigerian ruling class must come to terms with the fact that in today’s modern world, Nigeria cannot make competitive, real and sustainable development until they begin to acknowledge the role Nigerian youths can play in the leadership of our country.
“Our government must begin to see Nigerian youths as innovators, business leaders, thinkers, problem solvers and architects of a new Nigeria, not social media wailers good enough to be hired only as assistants.
“Accomplished Nigerian youths must be accorded the same recognition and respect young people like Mark Zuckerberg get whenever they visit Nigeria. Charity must begin at home.
“Let it be on record from this day that 2019 will not be business as usual. Nigerian youths will no longer approach the table of leadership on terms dictated to them by a generation that had its time to lead this country since independence. This is our time”, Green Nigeria said.