Ondo guber 2012
Director of the National Youth Coordinated Campaign, Idris Usman has outlined the role youths would play in the outcome of today’s governorship election in Ondo State.
He said that youths would critically assess the candidates and decide, with their large number, who will serve their purpose better. He spoke of this and others.
How does your group influence the youths on the issue of politics?
As a matter of fact, the organisation has really affected the lives of the youths of this country. What we are into is that we are bringing young Nigerian youths into the mainstream politics, making them know that if they don’t put their minds and voice or pay attention to the running of government, there is no how they can be key players to the running of the economy of the country. We make them realise that whatever affects them today will affect them more tomorrow. So we are making them to be conscious of the fact that they have to be part and parcel of the running of government.
What is the mode of operation of your organisation?
So far so good. We have structures in not less than 22 states in the country and we are still going further. What we have done is that wherever we go, we establish structures from the ward level and we build it to the senatorial level and then appoint one state coordinator to oversee the affair. We hold seminars. We hold rallies in different states. We have held one million march rally in Kogi State. We went round the whole senatorial zones and local government after the one we held in the state capital.
How were you able to gather one million youths in Kogi?
When we say one million march, it does not necessarily mean one million youths will gather at one point; its means that we are recruiting one million youths to march for something; we had done that in Kaduna; we had done that in Benue; we had done that in over 10 northern states and we are replicating the same thing in Ondo State. We had started the one million march in Akure and by the grace of God we want this to continue at the two other senatorial zones and also go down to the local level.
What has been the response of the youths for whom your oraganisation packaged the programme in the states you have visited?
The response has been marvellous because the youths have never seen an organisation like this before. The organisation is not one that is only active when election is around; it is not when election comes that you start calling the youths together; it has been a continual thing, so the youths are beginning to see themselves as part of governance; they are beginning to feel that they need to be part of day-to-day running of government; they need to be part of politics; they are beginning to see that being part of politics is something that can really change their future, knowing who and who are performing and those that are not performing and how to kick them out of office in the next election.
What is the source of your funding?
Funding has been very tight. We have a committee that goes round to talk to like minds, youths that are doing well and if you cannot spend your time going from one place to the other, you can give us your resources. So far so good; we have been getting favourable response from various youth organisations. Also, we want to start something now and that is that every youth that knows that his future starts now should come and support this movement; so that is how we have been getting funding.
How are you ensuring that your organisation’s activities are not hijacked by politicians?
We have been able to close ranks because we know that when this gets to the politicians they are going to mess it up. That’s why whenever we go close to a politician and we discovered he wants his own selfish agenda, we pull back immediately because the actual sense of this thing is not political jobbing. The actual sense of it is to really get the Nigerian youths involved in mainstream politics and get them to understand that their votes is their power, that if they keep their votes, they don’t have a say, but if they vote for the right candidate and when that candidate is messing up you can call that vote back; until then, what we are making them know is that their vote is their power and they should preserve it and come together under the Coordinated Campaign Organisation, then they will have a say and have a better future.
Now that your programme is coming up when election is approaching in Ondo, what happens after the election?
The youths coordinated campaign has not been like that; it is fortunate that I’m in Ondo State, which is my home and we have been working outside Ondo State. Throughout this year we have been busy; we have gone round the country; we had been Bayelsa, Enugu, Akwa Ibom and Taraba states, where there are no election; so we are not about elections; it is our duty to be here to ensure that the youths are mobilised and involved in the election and also not to be cajoled by the sweet words of these politicians; we are here to sensitised them to open their eyes, open their ears and assess the candidates. The one that is in government now, you have seen what he has done and you can tell what he can do in another four years. The one that is promising you that when he gets to government house, assess him; so that is what we are doing now. Ondo State is one of the states where we started this campaign a long time ago, but one thing about us is that we don’t make noise because those that make noise do so to get attention of politician. We do more underground work than making noise in the surface.
How far have you been able to reorientate youths over the illegal activities of politicians, with Ondo election here at last?
We have been around for sometime and we have really gone deep; why we are coming out now is because we want politicians to finish making their noise and finish up with their rallies, so we are coming now after the youths must have attended their rallies and analyse the promises they made; we want them to know that they should not make up their minds based on the N1, 000 or N2, 000 they will give them; they should make up their minds based on the antecedents of the candidates. They should ask: are the candidates going to perform? Are they going to create more good jobs? Not just creating shamble jobs, but create jobs that is going to benefit the people in the next 20 to 30 years from now; we also want to sensitise the youths to make the right choice.
Who should be blamed for social vices of the youths during elections, politicians of youths themselves?
When talking about youths being involved in social vices, can we also talk about what the involvement of the youths is? What role are they playing? What role are the politicians giving them to perform? In many instances, is it thuggery and violence that the youths will participate in? These politicians engage the youths. The politicians are to blame for many of these vices the youth are involved in. Another problem is unemployment. When you don’t engage the youth properly they think about other ways they can engage themselves
How will you rate the involvement of youths in governance?
There has been a tremendous improvement in the involvement of youths in governance in many of the South West states, like in Lagos, also I was in Ekiti State recently and I saw young people in key posts, not as advisers on youth affairs. I saw young people in real government activities in Ekiti State and I was impressed because that is what we are looking towards to. We want to see young people in key offices; people between the age of 29 and 35 as advisers on finance and other key sectors. Nigerian youths can perform if put in the right places.