Buhari Government: Why The Youths Must Not Be Left Out By Muhammed Abdullahi
Progressive Nigerian youths, working under the platform of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), spent their time, energy and meagre resources to mobilise and rally people, specifically young voters, to support the APC campaign for change in Nigeria. From organising one-million man march in support of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, then governorship candidate of the APC in the State of Osun, to holding rallies in support of APC in most State capitals across Nigeria; the All Progressives Youth Forum served the purpose of mobilising youth voters to support and vote for the APC. Indeed, the APYF served as an umbrella organization of all progressive youths and change seekers in Nigeria.
As young change agents, we believe that there is need for synergy between the young and old. We believe that as we embark on this new voyage of change, there is need for the older generation of leaders to consistently carry the young aspiring leaders along, share ideas with them and integrate them into the mainstream of governance. The involvement of youths in governance at all levels, we believe, must necessarily form a part of the ongoing efforts to create a sustainable change in Nigeria.
Perhaps the leaders of our party(APC) would like to ask: why do these young men call themselves progressive youths? Well, that question is very simple to answer.
At the very least, our ‘progressiveness’ emanates from the fact that in terms of vision and ideals, we espouse a future Nigeria which is anti-thesis of everything that is ugly, backward and repugnant; the same ills APC as a party frowns against. At the very least, we share a progressive ideology because we stand opposed to mis-rule in whatever form. And because the CHANGE the APC promises Nigeria would definitely spill into the future, the Party must as a matter of necessity start the journey with us.
Like the APC itself, the All Progressives Youth Forum, the platform we used to mobilize the youths during the campaigns, was not born out of flashy congress resolutions or lazy discussions. It was born, by and large, out of concrete and real struggle and committed hard work. It was not an easy task for the pioneer chairman of the APYF to mobilize youths of varied background to support and canvass votes for the APC. The conditions at different stages of the struggle for the APC to take over power demanded varied responses from us, and one of those responses was the birth of the All Progressives Youth Forum itself. Indeed, the role we played during the campaigns was critical and, in fact, crucial towards advancing the struggle of the opposition to take over power.
As the youth wing of the APC, and using the APYF as our platform; we fought long and worked hard to propel the CHANGE mantra. Even when some of our members got tired and were almost given up, arguing that ‘progressive’ is not our birth name; it was the chairman (Barrister Ismaeel) who encouraged and convinced them to stay focused and remain faithful to what he termed “the common sense revolution”.
The basic truth, which gives impetus to our demand for inclusion in General Buhari’s government and indeed in the government of all APC-controlled State, is that the youths of every society constitute its future. Therefore, a government that would not carry youths along cannot be said to care too much about the future. And since CHANGE is continuous, it is safe to conclude that sustaining the change APC pledges would require that those who will continue the journey to Nigeria’s enviable destination be carried along right from inception. The future of Nigeria is in the hands of the youths, and it will be what they make of it. Now is the time for the Buhari government to carry the youths along by given them the chance to learn,first hand, how to carry on with the CHANGE; long into the future.
Now to the specifics: Buhari government should endeavour to champion the interest of the youths by bringing them into government. For a segment that constitute almost 70% of Nigeria’s total population, it is important that the youths are feasibly represented in the process of decision making. The President-elect should endeavour to give young people at least 30% of political positions, including 2 cabinet posts. Gen. Buhari must ensure active involvement of youths in his government, bearing in mind their contributions to his victory.
As young people, we made a lot of sacrifices during the campaigns. We travelled long distances, from state to state; risking our lives to canvass for votes. From the many APYF activities, including rallies and town hall meetings, online engagement of voters, down to the sacrificial request made on our members and other young people to endure scorching sun and drenching rain while waiting to vote and for the votes to be counted; we gave our all to ensure APC emerge victorious. It is not for nothing that the youths have been described as the true hero of the opposition struggle. We deserve to be commended and rewarded.
To be sincere, those of us who, one way or the other, contributed to the APC victory do not want positions in government just for the fun of it. We very well understand that the stakes are high and that Nigerians expect a lot from the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. We do not seek government positions so as to struts around offices without adding any value. All we want is a chance to assert our readiness to make meaningful contributions to the governance of this country. Just as we did during the campaign, we want to champion the interest of Nigerian youths and rally them behind the vision of the APC. There are specific challenges that confront basically the youths. We want to work within the government to craft specific task that must be undertaken to confront these challenges.
As the then opposition party, one of the lessons that we have learnt in the struggle to capture power is that the relative unity of all struggles working towards a common goal must be pursued, and this is what ultimately ensured that our struggle ended in victory. One of the mistakes of the party we unseated was its penchant for repaying commitment and sacrifices with neglect and abandonement. APC must not travel this path. The struggle of the youths under the banner of the All Progresssives Youth Forum (APYF) contributed significantly to the APC victory. Our Party, the APC, must not neglect this critical arm of the party and a pivotal body that serves as umbrella of the majority of youth voters. We are sure that our Party will not fail us.
Abdullahi (@ mofolohunsho) writes from Abuja.