It’s “Thirty per cent or nothing”.

Nigerian youth have only one demand from their leaders ahead of the 2015 elections and this is 30 percent of elected and appointed government positions reserved for their representatives.

From the refusal of our Octogenarians to relinquish a bit of power for the younger generation in the political sphere, it has become imperative to seek ways to make them see reason.

They claim that we lack the requisite experience to lead, but how do we secure the experience when we are not even allowed to smell the seat of leadership. Yet they dub us leaders of tomorrow while they stubbornly refuse to allow tomorrow come.

How easy they forget that many of them began their journey in their youth. At 32 Yakubu Gowon became head of state and successfully led Nigeria through one of the most difficult times in her history and prevailed.  Shehu Shagari became a federal legislator at 30 and a Minister at 35, M.T Mbu became a Minister at age 25, and high commissioner to the UK at age 26. Richard Akinjide was Education Minister at age 32, Maitama Sule was oil Minister at 29…the list is endless.

However, our Elders have developed amnesia and have transformed young people into glorified thugs and tools for electioneering. This self-serving policy and greed have combined to extricate intellectually sound young minds with great ideas from governance.

Others say we will be an even greater disaster with no sense of responsibility whatsoever just by looking at young successful artists who only sing about money, cars, women and pleasure.

But there are advantages to having young people at the table. They often have very receptive brain, so they can learn faster and better than others; they need less time to acquire knowledge.

The youth might not have the financial muscle to struggle for power with the elders on equal terms, but in the words of Lupita Nyong’o Our dreams are Valid!

In the recent past we have seen that the emergence of youth into politics has brought in a new spirit of enthusiasm and confidence among people. Even though up till now, we have only seen that most of the young leaders have inherited politics. But then there is one thing in common in the young leaders today, they influence the youth of the country.

To put things into clearer perspective, the word Youth has been defined by the African Union Charter as every person between the ages of 15 and 35. This means, interestingly, that the Nigerian Constitution has made provisions for young people to participate fully in politics. One only needs to be 30 or 35 (not younger for now) for eligibility to be a Senator, a   member of the house of representative, or a Governor.

In all, I believe that a country cannot be great with only young people or only old human beings. A country has to have the old and the young working together forming policies to work towards itsdevelopment.

 

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