Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has revealed the way African youth can take over leadership position from older generations.
The former president said the older generation would continue to occupy the leadership positions until they were evicted from the stage. Obasanjo maintained that leadership positions would not come to the youth until they “squeeze older generation out of office”.
The Nation reports that the former president made this known on Wednesday, August 12, during a virtual interactive session with youths to mark the 2020 International Youth Day.
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Obasanjo also advised the youth to demand that affirmative action is encapsulated in the constitution of political parties, as part of strategies to ease out the old generation of leaders.
The programme was organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta. Participants of the meeting cut across Nigeria, Mali, United States, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
“Unless you squeeze out those who are in office and those who want to remain in office perpetually, some after the age of 80, they will not want to be out.
“The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark upon, is to subscribe into the constitution of political parties in favour of youth. Or if you like it, you call it affirmative action in favour of youths,” he said.
The former president reiterated that no one will wrestle power for the youths if they don’t do it themselves. There is, however, just one issue with the former president’s charge – it is extremely vague and unpractical.
It is not news that administrations in Nigeria over the years have hugely sidelined the youths and shunned policies that would encourage youth inclusion in the topmost roles in government.
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For starters, it wasn’t until the last general elections in 2019 that the Not Too Young to Run bill was signed into law allowing more younger people to contest for the presidency as well as other significant roles.
In other areas such as activism and criticism of the government, young people equally face a daunting task of having their voices heard. A typical example is the recent #RevolutionNow protest which was gagged with the use of policemen and soldiers.
For the aspect of free speech and political critique, there is also the hurdle of the hate speech directive which has now been raised to a million Naira fine. When one doesn’t even know what constitutes hate speech in Nigeria, it stirs concerns that the freedom of expression for many will be hugely infringed upon.
Do you think past leaders like Obasanjo and the present administration should do more to bring young people into governance than just make statements about them seizing power?