Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State has said that despite representing the largest demography of the nation’s population, if the youths refused to participate actively in politics, their numbers will still not count in 2023 general elections.
He maintained that the only way for leadership transition from the old to the younger generation was for the youths to get involved in politics and electioneering processes.
The governor said the Nigerian youths no longer have any excuse not to take over the nation’s leadership considering the exploits of some young Nigerians in every sectors of the nation’s economy.
Bello said this while speaking at the National Youth Summit/Book Launch with the Title: “It’s Youth O’clock In Nigeria”, held at the Rotunda Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja on Thursday.
Bello, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Pharm. Jamiu Abdulkarim Asuku, said Nigeria is waiting for young people to steer the country towards the dreams of its founding fathers noting that those who gave their lives for the formation of this nation did so at their youthful age.
The governor cited example of leaders like General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) who became the Head of State at the age of 32 and fought the civil war for the unity of Nigeria.
He also made reference to General Murtala Muhammed whose 200 days’ rule was impactful in the creation of additional states and also appointing the young Diete Spiff as military governor at the age 27.
“Youth no longer have any excuse not to take the lead. We are not just youthful, we are useful and purposeful. This is the time for the you to mobilize yourselves and begin an advocacy for youths involvement in governance.
“Most of you sitting down here are above 30 years of age. At 32, General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) was already Head of State. He fought the civil war just for Nigeria survival as an indivisible and united entity. General Murtala was also pretty young when he became the Head of State and he also made meaningful contributions to the development of our dear state.
“The youth must begin to see themselves as critical stakeholders whose time has come to take over the leadership of this country. Achieving this will remain a tall order if the new song of ‘Youth O’clock’ ends on your lips without concerted effort and commitment to participate in politics and electioneering processes in this country”, he 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.
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, the youth O’clock song must be heard in every nooks and crannies of this country, it is an advocacy that the youth must take to every country corner of this great nation called, Nigeria,” he said.
He said political leadership was by the virtue of organisation and alliance and commended the Youth Council of Nigeria for realizing that the ‘Youth O’clock’ was actually time for the youths in this country to prepare for leadership.
Bello said it was not enough to be a member of a political party, urging the youth to make themselves visible by having structures all over the country noting, it’s only then that their number will count and determine who wins the elections.