The world has, from the period of record-keeping, been under the control of the youths; great philosophers who gave the theoretical and philosophical foundation to whatever we practice today (political, economic social religious academic etc.), did so while they were young and agile. Those who fought for the freedom of various groups across the world were also youths. And so were the various religious figures who gave the principles of communication with God and fellowship with men. It is also apparent today that the youths are instrumental in the technological advancement of the world.
However, the Nigerian experience, since its independence, has been a tough one. How did a set of leaders with harmonised views, ideas and zeal towards national development become more challenging due to different interests that blindfolded the nationalists then? No doubt, there have been great leaders who championed the struggle for self-government in Nigeria, but that number was relatively small, probably as a result of limited numbers of Nigerians that had access to Western education as of then.
However, the limited awareness might be the reason for the drastic reduction of ‘national patriotism’ of many Nigerians to date. The early years into the fourth republic, however, witnessed a slight change as more youths became politically active with the zeal to contribute their part to the development of Nigeria, and the surge continues to date.
Meanwhile, the position of the youths in nation-building has been important as all sectors of the country need the youths in leadership positions — not only because of their level of brilliance and agility but also their ability to position all sectors in alliance with contemporary arrangements around the world.
In the political arena, in particular, the number of vibrant youths who are being directly or indirectly deprived of leadership positions is alarming. It is understandable, however, that most of the youths have, over the decades, refused to show capacity. But in recent times, many Nigerian youths have been able to convince the world that they are capable of handling leadership positions hence the need to engage them.
The culture of recycling the same set of leaders for decades has further confirmed that there are serious leadership inadequacies in Nigeria political system and this awakened many youths and some leaders in the country who believe that there is a need for new hands in the government for a better national experience. This better experience can only be achieved rapidly if fresh brains and hands are inducted into the system and they grow through the cadre for proper training and leadership experiences.
Nevertheless, the practicality of youth inclusiveness was launched in 2015 by Governor Yahaya Bello having several youths in his government (some of my colleagues and friends were beneficiaries). He consolidated it in 2020 by appointing more youths (more of my friends were inducted). The Governor of Yobe State demonstrated the same idea by appointing more youths in his government (some of my friends were also beneficiaries). The Governor of cross-river State did the same thing.
All the youths who are part of the leadership of these states are doing well and giving brilliant ideas to the government that has contributed to the development of their respective states.
The same idea was launched in the Ondo State recently, during the round table discussion organised by the Ondo State Progressive Youth Stakeholders (ODPYS), with Pentagon Movement Group (PMG) as the arrowhead. The result was seen in the recently conducted wards, local governments and State Congresses in the Ondo State as sizeable youths were accommodated.
It is good to note that the leaders and elders of the All Progressives Congress have been able to understand the position of the youths as the central force that drives political activities in different parts of the world. The inclusion of the youths will, however, equip them with more experiences and wisdom to handle leadership challenges that will be beneficial to all going forward.
Conclusively, it won’t be out of place, however, to give more leadership responsibilities to more youths at all levels in the government (local government to federal government) and party respectively. Nigerian youths are sophisticated enough to be inducted and shown the way to effectively manage the country.
About the author: Akinsiju Opeyemi O. is a patriotic Nigerian and a member of the only progressive party in Nigeria.