Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has expressed worry that many Nigerian youths are not actively participating in politics as much as they flood social media with activism.
“It is evident just from voter-turnout alone that the vast majority of young people either do not register to vote or do not vote. Those who even participate at all would rather engage within the very constrained space of social media platforms or join pressure groups.
“Neither of these is necessarily bad, but while media engagements and pressure groups may draw attention to the issues, they do not transform the lives of millions for good or ill. So, if you are keen on how the future will turn out, you must be involved in politics.”
Professor Osinbajo, who spoke today, June 21, at the maiden Progressive Youth Conference organized by APC Youth wing in Abuja, insisted that the more political participation by majority of the country’s youths wouldhelp them to contribute to make meaningful changes which only those in government can bring about.
He recalled: “growing up, I was also in a number of pressure groups, concerned with corruption, human rights and democracy. I wrote papers and argued at conferences but it was only in 1999 when the AD won elections in Lagos that I was able to serve as Attorney General, and working with several colleagues, we carried out a major reform of the justice sector in Lagos State. “We had to participate politically, otherwise all our great ideas may never be tried.”
The Vice President said that it is crucial for young Nigerians, with like minds, already involved in politics to influence others to also participate.
“While you all must be commended for joining and remaining a part of a political party, the major numerical force in our society, which you represent, is not engaged as yet. You have a duty to persuade, evangelize and recruit them.”
Osinbajo emphasized that politics is majorly about dedication and service to the people, advising the youths not to be discouraged from joining politics because of negative sentiments associated with politics in the country.
“Politics is about service to the people, but at the heart of that is that it is about ideas, and, of course, numbers. Movements of every kind are activated around ideas, and numbers. The larger the number of those persuaded by an idea, the stronger the movement.
“So being involved and getting others involved is crucial. The task then is to aggregate the majority of the party around your preferred point of view. That has to be done by standing firm on sound principles, but also being ready to give-and-take on methodology for achieving shared objectives and common causes.
“We have a duty to raise the bar of political discourse and focus the minds of the public on the issues that matter most to the majority.”
He said that young people have the numbers to run with bright ideas that could cause major positive disruption in politics, as there has been in other sectors like business, commerce and education.
“It is the strength of your ideas and the depth of organization that will retire those ahead of you, not your age.
“You are in your prime, at your most creative and most prolific stage. You also have the largest numbers. Clearly, you underestimate your role and abilities if you do not see your role as taking over the ideological and intellectual direction of the party. The big ideas, the great solutions, the creative plans, must come from you. And this is your moment.”
Professor Osinbajo asked all Nigerians, young and old, to work for and project the unity of Nigeria, and avoid stoking the embers of divisions.
He said those who are waiting on the sidelines hoping that this country would disintegrated “will be very sorely disappointed and I’m very sure those of you sitting here today will prevent that from happening.
“This country can take all of us, regardless of tribe, religion, gender or age, and I want to urge you to continually seek ways of making this union fairer and more just for the benefit of all.”