Zock: Youths Can Only Change Things If They Join Politics


A member of the House of Representatives, representing Kachia/Kagarko constituency, Gabriel Saleh Zock in this interview with Udora Orizu explains why youths should participate in politics and why it doesn’t require much financial capacity

The 2023 general election is fast approaching, there has been agitations for greater participation of the youths in the politics especially in governance. As a lawmaker what’s your take on this clamour?

2022 is the major year for selection of candidates and I want to appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari, I am the beneficiary of Not Too Young to Run. When he signed the Bill into Law, i quickly grabbed that opportunity and threw myself into contest for 2019 general election. And today here I am in the National Assembly. So if you check the 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives, you will see that there are more youths now than before. So in 2023, gradually I think the youths will take over the House of the people, which is the House of Representatives. It’s time for youths to know that the only way you can change things is to join politics. Not to insult the leaders that they are not doing well, if you feel a leader is not doing well the best thing you can do is to either contest, participate or cast your vote. The youths are willing and now you can see everyone in Nigeria is informed about politics and everyone is interested about development of Nigeria. So with the youths and their participation I believe there’s going to be more in 2023.

Do the youths have the financial capacity?

Issue of financial capacity, I can tell you categorically that politics doesn’t require much financial capacity. If you’re vibrant and people believe in you, because when I decided to contest for the seat of House of Representatives, a lot of people donated money to me because they believe I am here to make changes. That’s why when I came in at the House of Representatives the first Bill I sponsored, is the bill that will develop my constituency first. My constituencies are the producers of ginger in Nigeria, and you all know the importance of ginger, so what I did was sponsor a Bill for an Act to Establish National Ginger Board. So before you come out to run for politics, it’s not by going on social media, there should be a level of community development. And let the people in your community believe in you. If you can recall in 2015 people gathered money for President Muhammadu Buhari to buy form. He didn’t have the money to buy form. So it’s not the amount of money you have in your bank account. Atiku has a lot of money he has contested so many times but he has not become the President of Nigeria. Buhari didn’t have money but he emerged as the President of Nigeria. So politics is not about money, it’s about the people, so what you need to do as a person is to do your homework, contact and mobilization. Make sure the people believe that you are really there for them. Then the sky will be your limit. So I don’t believe in politics of money. If today I decide to run there are people who are ready to fund me, contribute and before you know it that money for form people will buy it for you, if they believe in your ideology and how you will change things for them.

If you look at the parties, they tend to encourage women and people living with disabilities more than they encourage youths participation by allowing them pay 50 percent of nomination fees, do you think that the parties should also extend same gesture to the youths?

Well, if you check we encourage women to participate in politics, I’m a member of the Ecowas Parliament. In the ECOWAS parliament there’s this law we are trying to pass to give women equal right to also participate in politics. When I was in school I held a position, was I elected with money? No. In your community if you’re looking for either traditional ruler or even leader of the community, it’s not with money that you buy people, it’s your community service that makes people believe in you. If they put a benchmark for youths and say let’s assume if the form for state house of assembly is xyz, and the people in your constituency believe in you they will actually fund you. I can tell you categorically, the person that became my local government chairman didn’t have money, but people elected him, we all agreed that this person is going to be the best chairman for us and we elected him. It’s not all about money, we even donated money for him to buy form. Money is not a problem when people believe in you. With your money if people don’t believe in you, you can’t win election. I call on youths to believe more in themselves, to actually take over. Check France, how old is their President? So it is not all about money.

There’s this notion that youths haven’t shown seriousness to participate in politics they rather prefer in tagging along, what’s your take on that?

When I came out to contest, that’s not true because I’m a beneficiary, I’m a seating House of Representatives member. When I come out to contest I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t know my Governor, but when people believe in me and elected me, I became the people’s representative. I’m I not a youth? I got into the House of Representatives at the age of 32, and I can tell you categorically I didn’t have a backbone from anyone, so it’s not true. I don’t believe you must tag along with the old people. 99 percent of people working around me are youths. Their own is to give us advise but the people that do the work are the youths. Gowon was head of state at 28, so let’s not get discouraged because we are youths or we don’t have the capacity. From being youth today, tomorrow you become an elder, and your time has passed then, so keep on trying today.

Do you believe the youths can do better than the old people?

The youths are doing well, check all our constituencies in the House of Representatives and check the previous National Assembly members, we are actually passionate about development. My constituency in two years I have facilitated more than 20 infrastructures in less than two years. The youths are actually doing better and where I can go now, 75 years old person cannot go. You know what I tell people about leadership, it’s not only about delegation, follow up and monitoring. And the youths have the time, they have the capacity, they are well informed and they can actually make things work out. So we will do better if given the opportunity.

Now that aspirants have started emerging, do you have any favorite in mind?

Well if had that opportunity I would have been the President of Nigeria. Politics requires experience, the experience I have gotten in National Assembly for two years cannot be compared with someone who’s aspiring coming into National Assembly. The experience of someone who has ran twice or thrice in National Assembly is better than mine. So I will tell you we need people with experience, who can actually take us to the promise land. Right now we need people with experience, this nation has so much potentials. 2022/2023 is actually a time that we need to select leaders. Nigerians need to understand what leadership is all about, not just politics of interest, we need to talk about politics of development. I have not seen any youth that come to say I want to contest for office of President of Nigeria, just like I said experience is one of the keys when it comes to leadership. In Kaduna, Mallam El-Rufai has given what other states have not given opportunity to in youths participation in politics. 80 percent of the local government chairmen in Kaduna today are below 35 years. 80 percent of the councillors are below 30 years. I’m a beneficiary, a House of Representatives member. Now I’m the leader of young Ecowas parliament, I have travelled round the whole Ecowas states, I have met the leaders, I am gaining experience. Coming back to 2023, the likes of our APC leader which is Bola Tinubu, Osinbajo, Fayemi, Amaechi , Yahaya Bello and others have shown interest, but there’s a difference between governing a state and governing a nation. In Nigeria we have 774 local governments, that’s where experience comes, for me I will tell you categorically as a lawmaker experience matters. If the presidency today is based on the south, we have the most credible, if I should ask you a question now who will you choose? Based on experience, I will choose Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as one of the most credible, experienced and one who has served as a Vice President of Nigeria. I’m a youth and I want a better Nigeria. We have bad image out there and we need people who can redeem that image.