Tony Osauzo, Benin
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, Nigeria youths have been enjoined to constitute themselves into a formidable force and use their votes as weapon to stop those that have held the country to ransom since 1999.
Besides, they were urged to challenge the nation’s leaders on good governance and avoid being used as a tool by politicians.
A Professor of History at the University of Benin, Prof. Eddie Erhagbe, gave the advice, on Tuesday, at a Town Hall meeting on “Youth Participation in Politics in Niger Delta”, organised by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD), with support from, The Ford Foundation in Benin-City.
In a paper he presented titled: ‘Youth Participation in Politics in Edo: Issues, Challenges and Way Forward’, Prof. Erhagbe disagreed that Nigeria youth have been exempted from political leadership and argued that on the contrary, the youth have been active participants in politics and governance since the beginning of the present democratic setting.
He, however, observed that the only thing the youth have been denied which has been affecting the country as a whole, was good governance.
The University don lamented that instead of demanding for good governance, the youth, rather, connive to work with the same people that have denied them the dividends of democracy.
“In as much as I do not have anything against the Not Too Young To Run Bill, I dare say that it is not the problem of the youth.
“The youth have been active in politics and governance since the commencement of this present democracy; how old was Lucky Igbinedion, James Ibori and Donald Duke, when they became governors.
“The youth have been very active in politics and governance, especially, at the Local and State levels. The real problem is getting the dividends of democracy”, Prof. Erhagbe said.
He attributed the hardship in the country to what he described as the “primitive accumulation of wealth” by the nation’s political office holders.
Erhagbe also urged the youths to “genuinely and fully participate” in political campaigns in the coming elections and get themselves registered and be member of a political party.
“The youth must this time around, not allowed themselves to be used as political tool to subvert the will of the people by the same people (politicians) who have brought this mess to the country,” he advised.
In their contributions, Mr. Roy Oribhabor and Grace Osakue, agreed that the high cost of elections may have defeated the essence of the ‘Not Too Young to Run’ law.
In his speech, convener of the event and Executive Director of the Centre LSD, Dr. Otive Igbuzor, said the Centre has trained 240 youths, 80 each from Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states, to take leadership positions in 2019.
Represented by Mr Monday Osasah, Igbuzor said the Nigerian youth must be empowered to fully realise their potentials to positively contribute to the overall development of the country.