By Lukman Omikunle
High Chief Aare Ayodele Bankole, the Chairman of the Central Planning Committee of the 2021 edition of Iganmode cultural festival on Tuesday said the greatest asset Nigeria, as a nation, is a vibrant and ebullient youth population adding that “Nigerian youth is a strong force anywhere in the world and their competitiveness globally is never in doubt.”
Bankole expressed this in his keynote address during the Youth Summit held at Isiyemi Hall, Olota palace, Otta in Ogun State.
The summit, with the topic; The Role of Youths in Electioneering Processes, is a significant part of numerous activities lined up for the 2021 Odun Omo Iganmode Afeleja – The Awori biggest annual cultural fiesta.
While emphasizing the role of youth in nation-building, he called on the Government and stakeholders in youth development to reassess the dormancy and the latent force of the Nigerian youths.
Below is the full text of Dele Bankole’s keynote address at the summit
KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE CHAIRMAN, AT THE YOUTH FORUM; CULTURE: A MODULE FOR SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP IN NIGERIA
- Please permit me to warmly appreciate the entire leadership of theYOUTH SUMMIT for this invitation to deliver a Chairman’s Keynote address on “The Role of Youths in Electioneering Processes”.
- I must also thank the organizers of this forum who has chosen the topic for this programme. The discussions around the topic which would inevitably project and emphasize the roles and responsibilities of Nigerian youths in electioneering process are most welcome at this auspicious time when there is a reawakening in the national consciousness for a rejig and reengineering of our electoral process in Nigeria.
- The topic, no doubt, is not only apt but very pivotal which I consider a remedy for the numerous challenges confronting our corporate existence as a nation. I must also say that the Role of Youths in the electioneering process cannot be overemphasized so much that several positions have been taken by political class, religious leaders, NGOs, Civil Liberty Organizations and more interestingly lately, the youths. This event is one of such.
- However, in this address, I shall attempt to share with you some carefully thought-out areas which I hope would be of immense benefit to our teeming youths.
- The greatest asset Nigeria possesses is a vibrant and ebullient youth population. The African Youth Charter identifies youth as people from age of 15-35. The figures from National Bureau of Statistics are revealing. In fact, demographically speaking, half of the 210 million people is under 19 years old. The largest export outside crude oil is human capital comprising largely the Nigerian youths. In 2019, figures of diaspora remittances stood at $23.5B second only to Oil revenue of $34.2B same year. It’s not surprising that at the last Olympics in Tokyo, so many Nigerian youths represented other countries and won significant medals donning other Nationalities’ colours. Nigerian youth is a strong force anywhere in the world and their competitiveness globally is never in doubt.
- It will be apt to reference the latest release from Commonwealth Global Youth Development Index which measures the status of young people in 181 countries around the world. According to the Commonwealth Triennial rakings, Nigeria is ranked 161 out of 181 countries polled. It is a call for action to the Nigerian Government and stakeholders in youth development to reassess the dormancy and the latent force of the Nigerian youths. Concerted efforts are now required to reverse the trends in igniting the latent youth energies in education & digital skills, employment, entrepreneurship, mental health, equality and inclusion, peace & security and more importantly, political and civil education. By and large, the recommendation to the countries at the lowest rung of the index ladder, is to initiate efforts geared towards promoting youth’s involvement in decision making that directly impact them. If this is one of your objectives of this Youth summitthen I must congratulate you.
- Let’s come back home to our dear State. In the just concluded 2021 Local Government elections in Ogun State, in several civic education and enlightenment enragements, we vigorously emphasized capacity development of the youth as one of the vital tools to significantly nudge participation of our teeming population of youths in electioneering process. When the youths are engaged to participate in decision making and contribute beneficially to the societies, the future of participatory democracy in our land is guaranteed. This is in consonance with the submission of Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who once said “Youths constitute Nigeria’s only hope for a greater future”.
- One way you can actively contribute in the electioneering process is by getting involved. For a very long time, the political space and by extension, the electioneering processes have been occupied by the aged& age long politicians, because the youth, with their intellectual acumen and agility, prefer to wail over obnoxious government policies on Social Media, rather than fight for access into the main polity of decision making process to contribute their own quota to the development of the society. I am however, hopeful that this trend is gradually being challenged &subdued as witnessed in the last LG elections in the Ogun State by the large number of youths that contested either as Chairmen or Councillors in the last election. Out of 236 Councilors elected and sworn in, 48 of them are below the age of 35 representing 20% of the total number of elected officials; whilst 117 of the elected fall between the ages of 35 and 45 years of age representing about 50% of the total number of the elected officials. At OGSIEC, we are proud of this remarkable and exemplary achievement by the youths in Ogun State.
- The place of political education is very important. You must be alert to political happenings and development around you. Political education & awareness can only empower you to take the front seat in the electioneering process. You must endeavour to form yourselves into pressure groups to demand for a reasonable percentage in your various political parties. I know of the 30 % affirmative action, being pushed by the women, it is also high time the youth came up with theirs and vigorously pursue it. More so, you must develop a self-value system. It is lack of self-value that makes the youths to become praise singers and ready-made armies of violence for politicians. One of our communication thrusts in the build up to the elections was for youths not to be used and dumped by politicians, this is a menace the youths must tame. Who says a youth cannot become the president, senators, members of the federal house of representatives and more?
- In conclusion, as we all seek for a better Nigeria, I need not to remind you that your greatest advantage is your numerical strength and there is power in number; this is in line with the popular maxim of “majority carries or wins the votes”. Your role should also include harnessing your numerical advantage to influence and press home your demand, create a new political consciousness& vision, develop culture of integrity, diligence and probity; as these are inarguably the strong pillars of your roles in the electioneering process.
- Thank you for your listening attention. I wish you fruitful deliberations. God bless you all!
August 14th 2021