By Philip Shimnom Clement
The Minister of Youth and Sport, Solomon Dalung and the convener of ‘Not too Young to Run’, Samson Itodo have disagreed over readiness of Nigerian youth to take power from the elites circle.
The disagreement between the two leaders came when they both spoke at the 16th Daily Trust Dialogue held in Abuja on Thursday with the theme “Youth and Democracy: The Nigerian Challenge.”
Itodo who earlier affirmed that Nigerian youths have the capacity to lead in any capacity in the country.
But, in swift reaction, the minister of youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung said the youths said the youths will have to work hard and take power and not only advocating for it because no one would just hand over power to them.
He said, “Our society was caught upon in a situation where we needed a special intervention, what took place in 2015 was a revolution where for so many years leadership didn’t have a direction, therefore Nigerians had to look for someone who has invested in himself to give them the desirable leadership, and there is now change.
“Power is not given, it is taken which is why President Muhammadu Buhari took power by preparing himself as a man of integrity. As such the youths have to prepare themselves to take power because even loyalty to political god-fathers will not make you something.
“People say you cannot be anything or anybody in Nigeria without a god-father, but it is not true because I don’t have a god-father. So if you’re a saying you cannot be anything in Nigeria without a god-father, you’re not correct” he added
But, Itodo said attributions of youths in Nigeria today has been negative to the extent policy makers see youths as problems that need to be fixed, rather than seeing them as assets that requires investment.
The ‘Not too young to run’ convener said the biggest problem of Nigeria is that Most of Nigerian leaders only take the advantage of exploiting the innovative and energetic talents of the youths for selfish gains and not to advance the cause of society, adding that any society that wants to develop must invest in the youths.
“60% of the population n are dominated by young people, because in years to come is the youths that will take over the mantle the leadership. In elections for instance, majority of administrative officers are NYSC members which in most situations cannot calculate results figures correctly which questions the quality of our education system.
“The idea behind the movement is not just young people wanting to run for elective positions, but activating their citizenship and readiness to contribute to National development and renew our faith in democratic institution and the legislature to make sure the bill finally gets assent.
“The general perception is that young people doesn’t not have the capacity to understand the dynamics of power, but that is in the past as such there are young people that have transformational values in recent past, adding that, aspiration to public leadership should be based on capacity, not on how old or young one is on age,” he said
Itodo, who is also the founder of Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) lamented the fact that young people are products of the society which he said unfortunately don’t have any positive societal values set by the older ones to follow.
He added that Nigeria need responsible and credible leadership to develop, not the kind of leadership that will be so bad that, “A sitting state governor will be praying for a state of Emergency to be declared in his state.”
Itodo also appealed to media to project and report the positive contributions of young people to national development and concentrate on covering young people who are contesting in the general elections as access to media is a huge challenge.