In a recent Instagram live interview session hosted by Daniel Ogoloma, founder of the New Generation Africa – a platform dedicated to youth-oriented conversations, Bello Shagari, president of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), poured out his mind and gave an account of the circumstances that led to his emergence as president of the apex youth body in Nigeria, his travails, challenges and achievements so far.
In a no-holds-barred session, while responding to questions from Ogoloma on his emerging president of the youth council, Shagari narrated how he overcame the tribalism, tension and corruption associated with the electoral process. He stated that he got into office at a turbulent time when the Ministry of Youths and Sports was having a major crisis and political machinations were rife.
After revamping the Sokoto State Youth Council where he recorded achievements in his capacity as the caretaker chairman, Shagari said he felt it was time for him to aspire for the position of president at the national level. According to him, his radical, upright and progressive approach to things instantly made some individuals who were benefiting from the corrupt system consider him an anti-establishment candidate from the beginning.
He added that he had to overcome the challenges of ethnic sentiments, relatively scarce resources and political manipulations to defeat a number of candidates, including those who were heavily favoured and bankrolled by government interests, who wanted to maintain their grip on the activities of the council.
Shagari claimed that after his success at the election, the forces gathered again to frustrate his tenure. And although according to him they have been able to disrupt the implementation of some of his programmes, Shagari said he remains resolute in his mission to serve the Nigerian youths.
When Ogoloma asked him if young people in Nigeria truly have the capacity to make a positive impact in the areas of policymaking, Shagari noted that Nigerian youths have the potential and capacity to contribute remarkably to nation-building. He made references to young Nigerians who are excelling in the fields of entrepreneurship, entertainment and other areas, locally and internationally.
He, however, acknowledged corruption, tribalism, religious sentiments, ignorance, lack of opportunities and the structural complexity of the country as part of the factors working against the actualisation of the dreams of most Nigerian youths. He also observed that just as it is the case with mainstream politics, the best and most qualified Nigerian youths are not involved in nation-building and decision-making processes.
Shagari went on to advised the Nigerian government to place citizenship above what he called indigeneship in order to squash the problem of tribalism and to encourage inclusiveness. He concluded the informative and insightful session by advising Nigerian youths to stop depending on the government, their parents and relations but to instead aspire to be innovative and self-sufficient.
Bello Shagari is the current President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN). He is a youth activist and documentary filmmaker. Shagari plans to devote more time to his film-making business when he leaves office, he said.
New Generation Africa is founded by Daniel Ogoloma, a Nigerian-British youth advocate, community leader and political activist. The platform is a medium for successful young people to express themselves and inspire other youths to achieve greatness.