5th October, 2021
Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has said Nigerian youths no longer have any excuse not to take over the nation’s leadership.
Bello said this while speaking at the opening of a two-day retreat for young legislators at Federal and state levels on Monday, in Lagos.
The retreat was organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in partnership with the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) and the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) of the National Assembly.
It was entitled, “Youth Alliance-Towards 2023 General Elections”.
Bello, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Youths and Students Affairs, Ahmadu Jibril, said Nigeria is waiting for young people to steer the country towards the dreams of its founding fathers.
“Youth no longer have any excuse not to take the lead. We are not just youthful, we are useful and purposeful, ” Bello said.
According to him, his political life had been a chronicle of doing what people said could not be done, when he threw his hat into the ring as a young Nigerian to run for governorship of Kogi in 2015.
“A lot of people saw me as a joker and a lot of people thought it was impossible; some called me an outsider because I had no godfather,” he added.
He said his legacies and achievements in office should not be difficult for anyone to search.
Bello challenged the young parliamentarians to lead with a difference.
According to him, the clamour for youth takeover of leadership would be encouraged and boosted by the sterling performance of those already in the corridors of power.
He urged young Nigerians already leading to promote themselves, advertise their work, record of performance and achievements.
“In like manner, as we think of 2023-the question of the next leadership of Nigeria, may I challenge you to deploy your considerable resources of office and influence toward crafting the Nigeria of our dream.
“Use your law-making power as parliamentarians to make a difference. Use your political clout you gathered in your various areas to make a difference.
“You must be equitable and allow everyone to thrive in his own merit,” he said.
Bello urged the legislators to elevate the unity and equality in the country, saying united Nigeria will thrive on political stability and social security.
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, described Nigerian youths as being full of potential and determination.
Gbajabiamila advised the youth to play a role commensurate with the number they represented in the population in 2023 general elections.
According to him, it was urgent for young Nigerians to realise and pull up all needed resources to actively participate in institutionalised political processes.
He said political leadership was by the virtue of organisation and alliance.
Gbajabiamila said it was not enough to be a member of a political party, urging the youth to make themselves visible by having structure all over the country.
The speaker, who noted that youths were full of ideas, decried that after October 2020 #EndSARS saga, there was abysmally low turnout of voters in Lagos Senatorial Bye Elections and subsequent elections across the country.
Also speaking, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, the Director-General, NILDS, who emphasised the need to keep improving inclusive political participation in the country, stressed the centrality of youths to the future of democracy.
In his remarks, Rep. Kabir Tukura, the Chairman of YPF, who described the retreat as apt and timely, said it sought to mobilise and sensitise the youth to take advantage of enabling law that promotes a more mainstream role for the young people in Nigeria.
Tukura said in spite of the young Nigerians’ population, youths were still being confined to peripheral roles in the political and decision mailing process.