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Youths, leadership and the future of Ogoja/Yala

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…Reinforcing the expediency of Asegem’s candidacy

By Kadiri Abraham – Abuja, Nigeria

Saturday – December 18, 2021

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The clamour for inclusive politics, especially youths’ participation in government, is gaining momentum in Nigeria, despite attempts by some few political gladiators in recent times, to submerge the realities of historical facts in their self-seeking, make-belief notion that only those with grey hair can, and should be given the baton of power to recycle themselves around the corridors of power. This notion has not only been faulted by facts emerging from history, but also by the copious proofs by a retinue of young influential trailblazers in Nigeria and the world over – both in the past and present, who, through their uncommon leadership prowess, leadership skill, inventive genius, managerial acumen, etc, have demonstrated that age is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition for effective and efficient leadership anywhere in the world.

From both biblical, secular and particularly, Nigeria’s historical point of view, vibrant young men and women have played key roles in the social and political organisations of societies across various nationalities and groups. For example, the age-grade associations in the typical pre-colonial era, had young Nigerians — the likes of Julius Ojo-Cole, Herbert Macaulay, and J. B. Danqua — championing and leading the movement against colonial rule. They created political associations such as the West African Students Union (WASU), and the National Youth Movement (NYM) in 1925 and 1934, respectively that fostered Nigerian sovereignty and self-determination.
The aforementioned organizations which metamorphosed into political parties on the eve of independence, also incorporated additional prominent personalities such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Samuel Akinsanya, Kofo Abayomi, Obafemi Awolowo, and Samuel Ladoke Akintola, who championed the crusade for self-rule. Amongst such political parties that these associations gave birth to were the National Council for Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) in 1944; Action Group (AG) in 1950; Northern People’s Congress (NPC) in 1949; and the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) in 1950. These were the political parties when Nigeria became independent in 1960 and there were dominated by the aforementioned vibrant and enthusiastic young minds at their 20’s and 30’s, such as Ambasaasor Asegem Emmanuel.

Even during the epochal post-independence era characterized by military juntas, young compatriots in their 20’s and 30’s, full of zest, vigor and political will, took over power out of patriotism and brought their talent into fore, for the betterment of this nation. The then young men, some of whom refuse to relinquish power till the recent past, include Kaduna Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Murtala Mohammed. These do not preclude the young Odumegu Ojukwu, who led the Nigerian Civil War and other youth activists, members of civil society, and professional pressure groups who opposed the military as members of student unions under the aegis of the National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) set up in 1956.

The declining role of young people in frontline leadership came with the dawning of the Second Republic in 1979, a period characterized by repressive leadership – when young people were reduced to thugs who could no longer think for themselves or their future, but rather hold unto the guns and carry out biddings of their political “Lords,” who hire them to spill their own blood. Then, ‘things began to fall apart and the centre could no longer hold.’ Few elders, handpicked from the various parts of the country held unto power and continue to hold the nation to ransom, until recent times when there is resurgence in the clamour that culminated in the “Not Too young to Run” and the historic #ENDSARS protest.

The Future of Ogoja/Yala, and by extension, Nigeria, lies in the hands of the young people who have the capacity, through their actions, in form of votes, to decide their own future. We have left our future, carelessly in the hands of the elders who do not know the pains of young people who constitutes over 50% of the voting population.

Inspired and motivated by the antecedents, capacity and leadership prowess of Hon. Asegem, young man in his 30’s and those that hobnob with him, I am confident he remains a rallying point for the youths of Ogoja/Yala, and very soon, will become a pathfinder for youth inclusiveness in government and leadership in Cross River State and Nigeria in general.

Rather than thinking we are the leaders of tomorrow, we need to nurture a new mindset and mentality that tomorrow never comes; today is the right time and Asegem is the right man for the job.

The time is Youth O’clock!

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