Shehu Sani Urges Youths to Resist Attempts at Balkanisation of Nigeria

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By Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The senator representing Kaduna Central in the Senate, Shehu Sani, has called on all youths to resist any attempt to break up Nigeria, or to succumb to a brand of political restructuring which completely sidelines the critical question of equity, justice and dignity for citizens irrespective of their ethnic, religious or political affiliations. 

He also urged young people not be hoodwinked by political elites who have formed alliances with common interests of plundering the nation’s wealth.

Rather they (youths) should build networks of friendships all across the country, he advised.

Sani, said these while delivering a lecture  titled: ‘Imperatives of Sustaining One Nigeria’, at the

Fifth Annual Parliamentary Lecture of the National Association of Oyo Students, in Oyo at the weekend. 

Speaking against the backdrop of the agitations from different parts of the country, Sani noted that poverty and marginalisation, are not necessarily a northern or southern issue. 

“To illustrate this point, may I draw your attention to the fact that people of northern extraction have been in power far more than any other sections of this country. Yet the most debilitating forms of poverty, illiteracy, disease and hopelessness continue to stalk millions of the populace. Of what use has the tenacious grip on power by the northern oligarchs and political aristocrats been to the millions of poverty stricken households of the North,” Sani queried.

The senator, who is the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, added that the agitations across the country, are overheating the polity and threatening the basis of Nigeria’s corporate existence. 

“I would like to argue that these agitations, particularly the recent calls for restructuring must be placed in proper context and addressed in a manner that strips the narrative of both primordial sentiments as well as the self-serving interests of the political elite. It would appear that more often than not, the call for political restructuring is loudest when the strong, vocal segments of the political elites have lost or are losing out in the political power game,” he said. 

The hue and cry over marginalisation is both real and deserving of urgent national attention, Sani added.

Sani noted that the economically and politically marginalised section of the Nigerian society are the youth who represent over 70 percent of 170 million people, who have been left impoverished and alienated. 

Rather than a concerted national effort to redress this very debilitating reality, the narrative and contestation over the notion of  marginalisation have tended to focus on regional/ethnic preoccupations with power sharing and resource control arrangements, the Senator said. 

He called for massive investment in young people particularly in the educational sector, and technological empowerment. 

“There is an urgent need for a creative re-engineering of the political space, including an active and progressive de-monetisation of the electoral process through the introduction of such practices as Independent Candidacy in electoral contests,” Sani said. 

“It is politically delimiting to make any demand on these youths which borders on the requirements of states of origin. As in the right to vote, the right to contest and be voted for, as well as the right to public resources among other things, should all be predicated on residency requirements only,” he added.