Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday challenged Nigerian youths to brace up for assuming political leadership of the country in the years ahead.
According to him, Nigerian youths must be be ready for the political offices they intend to occupy, pointing out that leadership positions are not automatic.
He gave the charge when he received a delegation of Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, which visited him in Abuja.
“It is true that young people are participating in every sphere of the economy and they are doing well, but they ended up there through one process of training or the other,” the Vice President said.
“Just like you have to train before you can become a pilot, so it is for politics.
“I think that whatever age a person chooses to run should not matter; what should matter is the preparedness of the person because elective positions require some skills.
“Most times people train to acquire other skills but not politics; that’s the way of democracy.’’
The Vice President said that there was need for youths to move up the ladder of leadership to prepare themselves for politics.
He recalled that at age 30, he served as a special adviser and was involved in pressure group activities before he became an Attorney-General and then, Vice President.
He stressed the need for Nigerian youths to have that kind of experience, adding that Nigeria did not need people who will just muzzle their way into positions.
Osinbajo said that issues of governance needed to be planned deliberately, adding that womens participation in politics and issues related to the girl-child need to be taken seriously and addressed. According to him, the women that should normally be participating in politics do not have the know-how.
He advocated for political education to put young people on a path to political participation.
Osinbajo lamented that democracy and elective offices in Nigeria usually centre on “corrupt people [who keep] coming into office because they have the resources.”
“These are the kind of people we have in elective offices; so, we need to raise the bar so as to get performance and competence,’’ he advised.
Osinbajo urged youths to challenge themselves with the big issues bedevilling the nation, pointing out the problem of corruption.
He again mentioned that many public officers have stolen public funds with impunity and short-changed ordinary citizens.
“Our budget is N7 trillion and if someone steals N1 trillion, how do we quantify it? If we don’t have serious advocacy around corruption, we are always going to be short-changed in the nation,” the VP observed.
He said that in a developing economy like Nigeria, there was need to put a high stock on competence and that the onus lay with the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement.
He urged Nigerian youths to join political parties, and be involved in pressure groups so that the nation could achieve development through youth activism.
“That way, youths will be able to carry the cause and address the bigger issues that affect the country,” he said.
Earlier, leader of the delegation, Samson Itodo, said that the movement led by young people who would like to contribute to national development.
Itodo, who is one of the conveners of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Movement, said that one of the reasons for the movement was to advocate for the inclusion of youth in democratic governance.
He said that there was also the need for intergenerational dialogue between the young people and older citizens.
Itodo said that the quality of the electoral process ought to be enhanced in order to increase competition.
“Today we have been able to inspire some young people to run for elective positions; all over the world, there is a clamour for young rulers.
“What we do is not to clamour for elders to leave but that we have faith in our democracy and it has to be inclusive because youths have the capacity, competence and integrity to hold offices,’’ he said.
He called for an open political system that would accommodate young people, adding that it was a good thing that the National Assembly passed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill.
Itodo appealed to the Vice President to support the Bill and expressed optimism that President Mohammadu Buhari would ascent to it.
He urged youths to join political parties and be ready for the political process leading to the 2019 General Elections, saying that “political power is not given, but taken”.