Gearing up for a Promising Beginning

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Udora Orizu writes that the recent summit in Abuja for Nigerian youths convened by a political party- Nigeria for Democracy- provided a platform to inspire the next generation of leaders that will take the reins of governance in the country

The 2019 national elections may have come and gone, but the public excitement generated by it lingers in the memory of both active and vicarious participants. These two categories of partakers know that the elections threw up a number of critical issues deserving of in-depth prognosis while waiting for another four years, to avoid a repeat of same mistakes.

For the myriad of flaws that characterised the exercise, it is difficult to deny that the 2019 national elections continues to be a source of mounting concern in many quarters. Corrupt occurrences; ranging from brazen manifestation of vote-buying with the electoral victory going to the highest bidder, under-age voting and over-militarisation among others were recorded. Despite the pretentiousness posturing of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), these incidences could be verified everywhere.

It is incumbent on INEC and indeed all Nigerians – both young and old to learn from the irregularities in the 2019 elections which was the most long drawn exercise of its kind in recent history, because of the new development of declaring elections inconclusive – a term completely strange to past exercise in the first, second and third republic.

At a recent conclave of Nigerian youths across the six geopolitical zones of the country suggests, this demography, which has been widely popularized as the biggest segment of Nigeria’s population may have identified more flaws apart from the obvious ones to every participant in the last elections. Armed with these information, they became inspired to plan ahead for the next cycle of elections in 2023, by convening the maiden edition of a national summit in Abuja with the theme; ‘Next Leaders Focus Rebuild Nigeria’.

The theme of the summit was also included the sub-themes like; ‘2019 Elections Look Back’ and ‘Next Steps and Grassroots Mobilisation’, where attendees were able to dissect critical issues that made or marred the just concluded exercise and offered solutions. The summit, which had youths between 25 and 40 years of age in attendance, was convened by an Akwa Ibom-born legal luminary and National Chairman of Nigeria for Democracy (NFD), Dr. Asukwo Mendie Archibong.

Participants were drawn from all sectors – Security, Technology, Health, Education, Communication, Sports, Judiciary and even Politics spoke in the same vein. They all claimed to be at the summit to chart a new cause for Nigeria’s development, different from the present precarious structure, that cannot contain insecurity, let alone eliminate it. They added that that undiminishing level poverty in the country has been a matter of great concern to them.

The convener harped on the importance of making the right choices for leadership positions at the different levels of governance. He said, “This summit is not about me. This is about the next set of leaders that should emerge from the country. What you’re looking at is, who is going to be a leader in the local government area? Who is going to be a leader at the State House of Assembly and the National Assembly?

If we can define this, we will be able to identify them and encourage them to enter into the political space. Once they get into the political space, they occupy the positions of power and engender change.

“Even if you are the president today, you can’t do anything, except you have people that are actually ready to work with you, at the federal level, and at the state level and at the local governmental level. So if we are able to bring people today into power at the state level, this country will change. Automatically, it will change. This process is to identify those leaders.”

The participants also resolved to ensure that restructuring of the country is pursued to a logical conclusion through a young vibrant leader that will emerge after present crops of leaders. They clearly specified that restructuring should be jurisdictional, it should be financial, in terms of generating finance. It should also be in terms of law enforcement.

According to Archibong, “Nigeria is a unique country. We have to look at the uniqueness in identifying what we need. A governor does not control any security apparatus in the state. So he can’t even order the police to go and fight crime. A governor does not have the power to make sure that power generated in terms of electricity generated within the state, it gets transmitted within the state and gets distributed within the state and gets utilized within the state.

“The governor doesn’t have the power to generate money in the state and naturally keep that money within the state. The governor does not have control of the resources that abound in the state. The governor does not have power to a great extent, on the educational sector in the country, and within the state except the creation of state universities, which he must still go to the federal government to ask for assistance.

“The governor does not have the power to develop health scheme within the state that caters for the citizens of the state. So wherein lies the power that we talk about. The governor having the power only lies to a certain extent, in the location of security budget, and in dispensing certain amounts of money that accrues to the state based on the resources that have been taken by the federal government. It should be the reverse, the state should pay some money to the federal government, a little bit of it, and then return the money, the bulk of the money to itself.

“When you look at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) most of the taxes that are generated within this state is taken to a different part, therefore, you hear complaints. ‘This tax is generated here, it is expended in a different state. We have to move away from that.

“Restructuring should also be in terms of law enforcement. We have the police force at the state level. We have a police force at the federal level. There should be a demarcation between what the federal police can do and the functions of the state police.”

The speakers at the summit included, Former Senatorial candidate on the platform of Young Progressives Party (YPP), Mrs Nnena Lancaster-Okoro, who decried a situation where voters request money before they exercise their franchise. She noted that though, she couldn’t account for the exact amount she spent on the bid, but enjoined all youths to throw away the poverty mentality and refuse to succumb to pressure from political elites who are ready to enslave them.

Award winning journalist with Voice of Nigeria (VON), Bitrus Shemang, Daniel Kozah; Former gubernatorial candidate on the platform of Nigeria for Democracy (NFD), Mrs Yemusa Lizzy; former Presidential aspirant and Dr. Favour Ayodele from Oyo State were all in attendance as speakers.