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Published On: Tue, Aug 29th, 2017

2019: Youth group vows to take Nigeria back from ‘looters,’ resist divisive rhetorics

OBINNA EZUGWU

On Saturday last week, hundreds of Nigerian youths under the auspices of Youth Connect Nigeria movement gathered in Bariga, Lagos to kick off a mobilisation campaign with a view to encouraging active participation of young people in politics and governance as well as ending what they called perennial recycling of old, corrupt political elite into positions of leadership.

The convener of the movement, Comrade Olanrewaju Atanda who spoke to Business Hallmark at the event, said he was motivated by his desire to get the youths to stand and reclaim the country from corrupt leaders, noting that for so long, the political elite have used ethnicity and religion to divide young people for selfish gains.

“We came together because of our desire to work towards a new Nigeria,” he said. “We, the youths have been docile for too long, and it is time for a change.

“We are bringing the youths together to demand that things be done right, we also want the youths to get actively involved in politics. For so long, the political elite have divided us along ethnic and religious lines, but we are now saying no to these divisions, no to us being used to steal ballot boxes.

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“We are happy that the National Assembly has reduced the age requirement for elective positions, we are now asking our youths to seize the opportunity and get involved.”

He called on every Nigerian who has attained the age of eighteen years to endeavour to get voters card, explaining that with over 70 percent of the country’s population, the youths have all it takes to get things done.

“We are not asking everyone to contest for elections, but at least, get your voters cards, it is your right. We have to participate, we have to get involved. The youths constitute 70 percent of the Nigerian population, this means that once we come together, we will be unstoppable, we can take back our country from the exploitative elite.

“That’s why we are out here sensitizing people, the time is now. We are more than 5000 youths here today, and we will continue to push, to make sure that every Nigerian youth gets involved.

“We are looking at a time when the youths will be so involved that they would even be willing to donate to the campaign of fellow youths. That’s our goal.”

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Participants at the exercise said they were motivated by the suffering of the youths in the country, and the need to put a stop to elite exploitation by participating in governance.

“The programme is all about calling on the youths to wake up. A lot of us are suffering, no job and no future,” said Solomon Olalere, one of the participating youths.

“We are always complaining about our leaders, but it’s not about just complaining, it is about getting involved, it is about stepping up to demand for our rights.

“This is a start, in the coming years, we should be able to raise leaders from amongst us the youths. We have the population, so if we begin to support one another, we will get it right. When we have youths in positions of authority, we can easily access them and let them know where they are getting it wrong. We can go to them and say, no this is not what we put you here to do, that’s the point.”

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