Moses Siasia (who spoke before me) run for governorship election but I will say, if you want to run for election, don’t run in the same way as others, you have to be different, if Dickson and Silver were riding those Jeeps, you should not compete with them, you should bring yourself down to the masses level, let them feel you, be with them.
Why do you think Moses has participated in politics? Why are we interested in politics? Why we have school of politics? Because politics is very important in our lives. Politicians make decisions that shape our life and our future and that is why we will not let it with them, we have to take the responsibilities and be part of the politics. But again, what else should motivate us to participate in politics? Some of us want to participate in politics because they want to be successful. But what is success? In your own dictionary, what do you want to see in your life to say that you are successful?
That is the beginning of everything. When you measure and quantify the scale of your success by the volume of the money you have, or the wealth you acquire, or the cars you ride, or the house you live, or the wife you marry, then you are not on the right course. And most people take politics as a way of getting money, enriching themselves, but leadership is not restricted within politics. Because leaders are not those political leaders, leaders are those people who make differences in the life of other people, if you really want to play politics or you want to be a politician or you want to be a leader, then you should start it now. Everybody is a leader or can be a leader.
We have to define why we are here, to discuss about politics, but there are so many challenges we are facing now as young people. We either contest as politicians vying for positions, or as voters. Now they say young people can vote as long as they are 18 and above but they cannot contest. This is not appropriate. Leadership requirements nowadays does not require age; leadership requirements change over time. What you required in a leader 30 years ago is not what you need in the 21st century in a leader, so there must be a redress, and like the national chairman of the youth council said we have to have a movement that will inspire institutional changes that give room for the young people to aspire and contest for any election. And if we really want to be political leaders, we have to start within our capacity, what can we do ourselves? And that will serve as a testimony or legacy for people to see you and say we have seen leader in you, the leadership quality we need in you and we want to you to be our leader.
As a muslim, the prophet SAW said whoever come out and say vote for me as leader I want to be your leader, then do not vote for him. Vote for people that are humble and responsible, and give them the leadership, then God will guide them. We understand that we are in a modern democratic system, even in that, we can identify credible leaders and ask them to contest. We have to prepare ourselves to be leaders, there are so many young people who were given responsibilities, but they disappointed young people, because they were not prepared to be the right leaders we want. I am a university lecturer like I said, I mingle with young people who are coming out, growing out of the university and potentially are going to be the elite in the society and eventually become leaders, but I have seen the gaps in them, the leadership quality they need to have is not taught in our universities.
It is not just enough to have PhD, not just enough to finish from university, and that qualifies you to be a leader. You need strategic training and discipline to be an effective leader, that is why this kind of school of politics and leadership programme are very imperative that any person who wants to contest in any election should have this kind of training and preparation. Because they tell us we are inexperienced, but I tell them we are the most experienced people, because what is experience? Knowing your problems is 50% away of solving the problems. The old generation that ruled 30-40 years ago, they only knew the challenges of the past, the problems of that time, but we know the opportunities and challenges in our time, we the young generation, and that is what made us more experienced. So that is the best experience we have, and like I said the leader we needed 30 years ago is not the leader we need today, because this is different century and we have larger proportion of young people.
The decision to make the difference lies in our hands and I believe this is the best platform to achieve that, and we have to take it serious, and I understand so many people were invited but they were not here, we don’t need them, we have to start with a small number and that is how we can grow big. The strength we have, we will build it and others will join later. For us to achieve this we have to have serious social re-orientation. As I started earlier, what measures your success? What do I want to see in my life to say that I am successful? I swear is not just to be a governor, to be in the house of reps, to be president of Nigeria, No, that is what motivates me to go to University, to see young people looking out to you, they have problems, they have challenges, they need support, they are coming to you, you are helping them, they will never forget you, that is leadership, the difference you want to make. And Comrade Barde was telling me I have come back to Nigeria for over 6 months now and I am wasting away after all what I have achieved. I said no! I am not wasting away, in fact I am impacting and making difference for being a University lecturer. I don’t have to change thousand people, I just need to change one person, that is my success.
I have seen a friend of mine sharing a post on facebook, he said his children are celebrating birthday today, one of them is saying I want to be a governor, a president. We should not teach our children that becoming a governor or attaining highest position is the ultimate success in life, that is not it. You can be a leader in any spectrum of life. Academic institutions, organisations out there, you can make the difference. Sometimes you don’t need money to do that. For us to have this social re-orientation, we have to get rid of the corruption (thinking of political position first) in the young people.
What is the biggest corruption? The quest for short-cut. How do I get rich quickly? Because you think that money or wealth is your success, that is why you are crumbling, you want to get that money quickly and that is because you are lazy. If you struggle hard, don’t think you are disadvantageous, but you are stronger, the struggle you face makes you resilient and matured to face even bigger challenges in your life. Those guys you think they are privileged; they are not advantageous because little failure breaks them. But you are very strong, you fall and rise, and keep moving. Young people should not be lazy, we should not be afraid of failures, If Moses was afraid of failure (he would not have contested for Governor in his state), he would not have been here.
The second problem we face is lack of responsibility: If you see something wrong, change it. I am not campaigning here for any person, I agree absolutely change begins with all of us, with individual capacity, what can you do. If you come out in your environment/neighbourhood and see it is dirty, organise people, organise action, make the difference, no matter how little it is. If you are educated and see young people struggling in school, create a free class for them, teach them. This is important, because the negative effect of an illiterate person in a society surpass that of the benefit of those educated, because he (the illiterate) can make a serious negative action that will affect everyone and it will become irreversible, and we’ve see in our society that illiteracy and ignorance play role in electing bad leaders, because of ignorance people can collect 5000 Naira or even less to vote for incompetent candidates.
Lack of patriotism: we (the youth) put ourselves first before our country, it should be the other way round. Lack of patriotism kills our progress. Some young people nowadays would rather be sycophant, have Godfathers and follow them like dogs, if you do that, you can never get there. You have huge potentials in you, but you stoop so low to keep following someone who is expired. We (the youth) have the energy, the exuberance, the innovations, the ideas and knowledge to make the difference, but you keep following someone who doesn’t even know what is going on nowadays.
Those older generations lack the mental and physical stamina to rule the modern world. Problems are evolving every minute, you need pro-activeness, smart decisions and leadership, and these are enough reasons to awaken us to the truth. We say if you want to contest for election you must have a political party to sponsor you. I had a meeting with some young people recently, one of them said to me that he is a partisan member of PDP, and I asked him why? He said because PDP have the good people, and so on. I told him that I don’t expect young people nowadays to be partisan, and even other Nigerians too, we don’t need to be partisan for now, because we are in a stage of building good governance. At this stage we need to identify credible and qualified leaders irrespective of their party.
It is very sad; the APC politicians have to take responsibilities of poor governance especially in the north for taking advantages of the people there, by telling them to vote for a political party all the way, neglecting and passing out other credible candidates in other parties. That is how we missed out so many qualified candidates which is not good for our system. I know of someone who barely finish secondary school, but he beat someone who is a PhD holder and has all the leadership quality just because of the party ideology.
Party does not determine what you do as a leader in Nigeria. For example, in Katsina state, Gov. Masari can never be dictated by the party chairman, he (the governor) decides what he wants to do, nobody in the party can query him. The point here is that the ultimate person is the candidate, who is the candidate irrespective of the party. When we have credible leaders all round and across parties, then the question will become which party has the most credible candidates? At that time every party will have to fill all positions base on credibility and qualification. And when there are credible leaders/candidates with ambitions that is when you have a choice of which path to follow to greatest. If I want to go to greatest and someone says follow left and someone say follow right, and I think I prefer right, then I should vote for the party that says it is the right path, that is ideology. That is where the developed countries are now. Voting on party ideology in Nigeria at this stage is useless. We need to create a political movement that promote credible leaders across parties, but we are not restricting ourselves to a single party.
1. Inclusion/accommodation of professionals in politics: Most people take politics as their primary business, without positions they are nothing, they cannot do anything and we allow them to rule us (we the professionals), despite our skills and competence. Professionals have to have space and stake in the politics. It is discriminating to say professionals cannot belong to a party. This movement should prepare to identify these areas where we want to have a review and then push forward for it. I learnt that we have the officials of a new party called “Young Democratic Party”, which is a welcome development. These are some of the starting points, but as a new party, it all depend on what you do in the party. You have to have a message, bring the people around. One of the major problem that young people have is self-insecurity. When you don’t have confidence in yourself, you become selfish so you will be afraid to bring competent ones around, because they will relegate you. If you are selfless, you don’t care, you will bring the most competent person and give him the chance. Your legacy is the system. So youth movements and political parties shall not be self-centred.
2. Unity: We should stop segregating ourselves, let us unite, we should stop looking at ourselves from different divides. Since the higher proportion of Nigerian population are youth, why can’t we have a young president. Pull your collective votes together and give it to that person. We can start by contributing money to fund/sponsor a young candidate.
3. Reducing the cost of election: the large amount of money required to contest for an election is discouraging. Young people are growing up, they are trying to establish family and build some other life necessities. We need to have a strong structural and political change in Nigeria to reduce the cost of election, so that young people with little resources can aspire for any position.
4. Political position should be made unattractive: why should a primary school teacher receives low salary while a member of house is receiving large cow share, who is contributing more? I am sure when the positions are unattractive many competent young people will be attracted to it, and other unpatriotic politicians would have to retire.
Those people at the top positions cannot make it alone, what they do is the subject of the people around them, but now they say, they cannot bring competent people, they need politicians. As we speak now, there is no single young person in the national cabinet even though young people have contributed to the success of the current administration. Political appointments should not be given exclusively to politicians. Governance is not only about politics and politician, we only need politicians during elections, but when dealing with serious business we need competent professionals. Most government appointments are based on political compensation, and even at that level, we don’t see young people (at least considerable number of them) being compensated anyway.
Finally, I would like to strongly emphasize on the need for the national movement that will unite and mobilize young people to support each other and aspire for various positions in the next election irrespective of party affiliations. Let us promote credible leaders, not parties. We may not have to start many of us, but gradually, we will make it. I Would also like to congratulate the organisers for the success of this events.
Thank you and all the best.
Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First Ever Global Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University.