Posted by News Express | 22 November 2018 | 1,440 times
If you flip through the pages of Sunday ThisDay of November 18, the first colour advert that will greet your sense of admiration because of the creativity and aesthetics, is that of former vice-president of Nigeria and the presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The young-and-energetic- looking Atiku Abubakar wore a black designer suit, immaculate white shirt, with an orange tie. He was clean-shaven.
Proceeding further, you will also encounter a set of adverts by the incumbent President and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 presidential election, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
While I was drafting this piece, my attention was drawn to the emerging fact that, indeed, Atiku Abubakar has frontloaded his policy document and didn't have to wait till 12 noon as previously announced. Probably, Atiku Abubakar read the details of Buhari's agenda and decided to circulate his own blueprint, so as not to be left behind.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party promises to create 3 million jobs every year, if he is elected president in the 2019 election. This, according, to information filtering in, is one of the key points in the policy document released by the PDP standard-bearer last Sunday, which details a seven-year timeline in which he intends to deliver on his campaign promises.
Did I just read that he had a seven-year plan? This, then, means that he has recanted his earlier pledge to spend just a single term of four years and may have indicated that he would seek his full two terms of four years each, making eight years, if he wins in February next year.
Apart from job creation, the document also lists three other areas of priority, namely: infrastructure development, human capital development and poverty eradication.
According to the former vice-president, he has plans to lift 50 million Nigerians out of poverty, by 2025. Furthermore, he stated that he has plans to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and, also, sell all four national refineries. Other areas of focus in terms of infrastructure are the construction of 5,000 kilometres of roads, and 5,000 kilometres of modern railway.
A statement released on Saturday, by the Atiku Campaign Organisation, had explained that Atiku’s decision to kick-start his presidential campaign with the launch of his policy document was to reiterate his commitment to running an issue-based campaign. It added that the intention was to take their policy directly to Nigerians.
However, the very thrilling coincidence in the two advertorials from these diametrically opposed and sworn opponents in the coming presidential poll is that both of these materials make heavy weather of the relevance of the new media. Both campaigns are in a battle of information technology to win the hearts and minds of the millions of youthful voters. This information technologically designed battle of wits can be deciphered from the fact that both candidates clearly asked Nigerians to visit their distinctive websites on the world-wide web to digest what constitutes their agenda, if elected.
Atiku Abubakar on his own part took the advantage of the colourful advertorial to announce that come Monday, November 19, 2018; he would be launching his manifesto live on the social media network of Facebook. As I noted above, Atiku has already jumpstarted the launch of his plan by issuing a media statement and a powerful response to the detailed agenda or a policy document already circulated in the print media by the incumbent president. However, in the advertisement earlier mentioned, Atiku Abubakar called his blueprint My Plan For Getting Nigeria To Work Again.
Thereafter, he informed Nigerians that soon after he addresses the nation as stated, he would upload the blueprints on his well-secured and friendly website for the reading pleasure of all Nigerians.
President Muhammadu Buhari also termed his campaign as The Next Level. He also took centre-spread advertorial in full colours to highlight the thematic areas of development that his political blueprints are focused on, even as he also has a dedicated a website in which it is expected that Nigerians can access those campaign pledges. He made bold statements to development of the agro-allied industry, infrastructures, health and job creation.
Buhari was featured as a cartoon character alongside his vice and predictably his running mate, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo in a very beautiful artistic form. Buhari did not mention the youth as a critical broad-based sub-theme that is a strategic component or aspect of his The Next Level political campaign agenda.
In the explanatory centre-spread advertorial, Buhari, however, started by promising to do a lot to improve the employment situation and then mentioned that he would train 200,000 youth for outsourcing market in technology, services and entertainments. He, nevertheless, gave his intention to continue with such programmes that are targeted at poverty reduction through conditional cash transfers, which are however dismissed as amounting to tokenism.
Atiku, on his part, had earlier promised to give the youth a sense of belonging, by allocating 40 per cent of the cabinet level appointments to youth. On the other hand, Buhari promised what he calls inclusion in government, including 35 per cent affirmative action, while he also promised to include youths as members of boards. But Buhari made no commitment to include the youth in his cabinet. Right now, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, is a man in his late 60s, who does not qualify as a youth. Possibly, the only cabinet level member of the current government that can qualify as a young person is the Minister of Finance, who is a step sister of the Kaduna State Governor, Nassir el Rufai.
Going through the patterns of how these two political heavyweights have commenced their campaigns, based on their disposition and readiness to market their blueprints through the new media, what it shows is that they both accept the strategic place of young people of Nigeria in the political calculations of the country. This is because statistically, there are over 60 million young account-holders in the social media who are very active. Most Nigerian youths are information technology savvy, and very active on the social media. It can be assumed that both Atiku Abubakar and Buhari are aware of the potentials of Nigerian youths who are very active on the social media.
Marketing their campaign blueprints in the social media is, therefore, a vote of confidence on the young people of Nigeria. It, therefore, follows that there is the need to meticulously analyse their blueprints to assess their agenda for the teeming number of young persons in Nigeria.
What this shows also is that President Buhari has changed his view of the youth from his widely condemned position, which he stated during one of his many foreign tours during which he termed the youth as lazy. Perhaps, he has woken up from his negative attitude towards the youth, including his very recent diatribe targeting Nigerian youth who are embarking on foreign travels for greener pastures. Buhari had sarcastically told those young Nigerians going abroad, due to the bad security situation and the perilous economic outlook of the country that, they are free to go to wherever they want to if they don't like Nigeria.
But Atiku began his campaign by enticing the youth, by promising to just do a single term and to hand over to a young person. But, he has cleverly renounced and reneged on this pledge by bringing out a blueprint that he plans to implement within seven years.
In this piece, therefore, I tasked my research consultant, Miss Obilor Grace-Cliffs Ebubechukwu, with the task of interviewing fellow young persons to bring up a broad-based youth agenda for the presidential candidates. This she has discharged creditably and has come up with positions that reflect the wider impressions of what most young Nigerians consider as an agenda for the youth in the post-2019 presidency.
She delivered a profoundly rich report, disclosing that Nigeria being so populated is mostly filled with young people from different ethnic groups, yet our parliaments are filled with older people. This is the summation of her broad-based findings drawn from the random interviews she carried out among divergent youths from across all spectrums. The views of these young interviewees ranged from calls to mainstream the youth participation in civil governance to such areas as implementation of youth-friendly items by the winner of the forthcoming presidential election.
To the young persons who spoke with Obilor, the history of Nigeria is replete with the absence of involvement of young persons in the governance structures of the nation since inception. For these young persons, there are recorded evidence to show that among political leaders produced either through military take-over or democratic process, that there are not enough of young people as expected, because the youths have been tagged lazy, due to their inability to fully participate in the political activities that goes on in the country.
These youths expressed optimism that that the coming of “Not Too Young To Rule” bill that became an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue if it being passed by the National Assembly in the current dispensation and signed by the 75-year-old President Buhari, our youths became so vibrant as regards the much expected 2019 presidential poll. They affirmed that, as it stands now, we have some amazing young Nigerians who are calling for change in the nation; even as they have decided to bring forth a new Nigeria. The youth agenda which must be made integral aspect of the policy document of the presidential candidates is to make sure that Nigeria is being restructured, since the current political structure is inherently defective and has become perennially dysfunctional.
According to them, the 2019 presidential elections is going to be one of its kind in the history of this great nation.
“We have the likes of Chike UKaegbu, 35 years; Fela Durotoye, 46 years; Enyinnaya Nnaemeka Nwosu, 40 years; Ahmed Buhari, 40 years; Charles Udeogaranya, 46 years; Mathias Tsado, 41 years; Eniola Ojajuni, 39 years; Olu James Omosule, 48 years, and Tope Fasua, 47 years.
"These young people have different visions for Nigeria; they want to make Nigeria a home for all by looking into our unemployment status, inefficient power supply, lack of health infrastructure, our educational system, and many more.”
In the series of interviews with young people, Mr Reuben Onuoha, from Umuahia, Abia State - a civil servant and founder of the Voice Of The Youths group - told us that the youths are considered warriors of any society. He said that the youths play a vital role in the progress of any country, of which Nigeria is not an exception.
The respondent went further to say that the president of France is in his early 40s, and his people are happy to have him as a young president; but talking about Nigeria, our great nation, we can testify that the elderly ones have presided over the country for decades now and the style of leadership seems to be the same.
Finally, Reuben said we need to try a young democratic president to see what he has to offer; he may end up restructuring Nigeria so that it can be a home for all.
Mr Atuluku, Victor Levi from Igala is Senior Special Assistant on Media Matters to the Governor of Kogi State. He said that the policy thrust of the administration is to cut cost and boost revenue, which will in turn yield more money to fund capital projects and welfare programmes that can make Nigeria a home for all. Victor added that this boost will help our socio-economic life and also the youths at large.
Mr Chiemela Samuel, Executive Director of Babcock International Model United Nations, who lives in Kaduna State, said that there is no hope for the Nigerian youth in the post-2019 presidency. Samuel noted that between now and future general elections in this great nation, no youth is coming to power, just as he said the only way a youth can emerge is if Atiku Abubakar wins the 2019 elections, “then that is the surest way the youths can be in the agenda in this great country, but if it goes the other way round, it will continue to be a recycle of old men.” Perhaps, this respondent was alluding to a media statement credited to a former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd), in which he pointedly asked the septuagenarian President Buhari to stand down and allow younger candidates to contest to become president, since what he currently offers is at best an analogue leadership style, which is absolutely unsuitable for a 21st century Nigeria.
Coming to what the Nigerian youth want so as to make Nigeria a home for all, Samuel noted: the youths need enabling environment, sufficient funds to take care of the education system.” He added that the educational system in Nigeria does not prepare young Nigerians to face the domestic challenges that are confronting her as a nation, concluding: “Well-equipped hospitals, quality health care system and an enabling business environment are what Nigerian youths need so as to make the nation a home for all.”
On his part, Mr Adeola Jimoh Otaniyi, youth ambassador/president Nigerian Purpose-driven Youths who stays in Kano, said that the involvement of the youths in politics will be a very good advantage to them. “Looking at the government of the day, you will see that the youths are sidelined, hence those who are involved in this government are not more than 0.75 per cent of the entire youth’s population.”
Jimoh said that in 2019 and beyond the youths want to be involved in political activities; that they no longer want to be marginalised anymore.
Talking about what the youths want so as to make Nigeria a home for all, the youth ambassador said it really depends on status, choice, want, location, age, priority, ambition and individual dreams and goals; adding that the youths need an enabling environment with basic amenities of life, such as good road network, electricity, adequate water supply, skills and acquisition centres, well-built and equipped hospitals and empowerment programmes. Finally, Jimoh said that the Nigerian youths need advanced technologies, mostly in the area of farming, so as to make Nigeria a home for all.
Chukwuma Linus, who hails from Anambra State, told said that youth agenda is always geared towards good governance and it is a very ugly narrative. Linus stated that financially, in Nigerian politics, the youth are not ready; but potentially, the youths are showing signs. To him, age is not a function of good leadership and also politics needs good mentorship. He noted that the youth want the best government policies that will provide them the opportunity to be self-dependent, and this will in turn make Nigeria a home for all.
The researcher then felt the need to get the heartbeat of youngsters engaged in small and medium scale enterprises, including traders. She spoke with Frank Ugboaja, from Abia State who, without mincing words, stated firmly that the Nigerian youths have no agenda come 2019 presidential election, because they have different mindsets and different goals. Frank said that the nation can’t be made a home for all because it has been hijacked by cabals. To this disenchanted Nigerian citizen, until the nation respects the rule of law, that is when the youths will exercise their strength in politics; because as it stands now the youths can’t command such power.
He noted that some young people are coming out for 2019 presidency, but just few youths are strongly supporting them simply because many of the youths have chosen to campaign and sing praises for the old minds for pecuniary gains. He said that the youths are yet to see the corridors of power in Nigeria, so they shouldn’t expect anything as regards to making Nigeria a home for all.
These youngsters interviewed forgot to charge the presidential candidates to try and convince the majority of youngsters in the South-east to dissociate themselves from the retrogressive advocacy campaigns by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) asking them to boycott the coming election, unless the Federal Government gives a date for national referendum to determine the future of the country. Any campaign for election-boycott in any part of Nigeria is totally evil and will undermine any youth-friendly agenda.
Having heard from the young people, you will come to find out that they have different opinions as regards to the forthcoming 2019 election and the post-2019 presidency. Most of them felt that the youths are not ready to take up the mantle of leadership, while some are of strong belief that the youths are going to make it, come 2019.
This, surely, is a rich and well-thought out views of what some Nigerian youth consider as a youth agenda for whoever emerges president of Nigeria in 2019.
What one can decipher from their opinions is that the president that Nigeria wants in 2019 must focus on these items of development: quality healthcare, functional educational sector, sound infrastructures, and job creation.
In the coming days, therefore, most young persons in Nigeria numbering over 50 million active citizens will be monitoring the campaigns to determine the best person with the best and most workable youth agenda.
The two main candidates of APC and PDP would have to look behind them always and to surround themselves with young Nigerians with talents who would help them fashion out the most attractive agenda for youths and sustainable development. This is more so urgent and imperative given that among the other presidential candidates, there are many highly educated, urbane, exposed and talented youth who are willing and ready to dethrone the old political order and take over the mantle of political leadership.
Kingsley Moghalu former deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria is a young and all-round educated youth who has vigourously campaigned to be elected in February as Nigeria's next president. The publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr Sowore, is very young but he is battling to be heard. Campaigns in Nigeria for the office of presidency is a multi-billion dollar project which most of these youngsters running for that office can't possibly mobilise. Even the incumbent president through his campaign office was making jokes that the Peoples Democratic Party's presidential candidate is too broke to match the All Progressives Congress in the campaign season that only just kicked off Sunday November 18. Peoples Democratic Party on their own part accused the President of sending the partisan Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, led by acting chairman Ibrahim Magu, to confiscate bank accounts of identified supporters of its presidential candidate. From these verbal exchanges between the two main parties, what has become manifest is that campaign for presidency of Nigeria is way beyond the funding or financial capacities of any of these young persons seeking for the office of the president of Nigeria in the forthcoming election. This is why we are focused on highlighting the youth agenda that must be adopted by the two most strategic presidential candidates of the APC and PDP.
In the light of the above perspective, it is safe to conclude that only a candidate with the most transparently workable youth agenda will carry the day in the coming elections, which outcome would be determined by and large based on the participation in the voting exercise by the youth of Nigeria. That is, if the Independent National Electoral Commission headed by the controversial Mahmood Yakubu, kinsman of the incumbent president and candidate of the APC, would organise a credible, free, fair, peaceful and transparent election come February 2019. The die is cast!
•RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, a popular activist (www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com), is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
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