Today, I have taken out my time to talk to you, the youth of our dear state, in recognition of the inalienable fact that you are a force behind the renewal of human society in order to benefit from their energy, idealism, unique perspectives and innovative ideas to achieve sustainable development. And according to a philanthropist, Taveras, you must not “believe all of the negative perceptions that are out there about youth. You, along with your families and communities can change things. You need to be part of a network of peers and adults who can work together to achieve a vision you may have… Young people are not in a ‘waiting period’… waiting to be leaders; waiting to make a difference…young people matter now!” Yes, this is your time.
By academic definition, I may no longer be a youth, but by association, practice and inclination, I remain an active member of the youth category in our nation. I share your right and competence to contribute to the governance and growth of our nation. As motivated and inspired citizens, you are agents of change with the potential for taking a leading role in tackling national development challenges for yourselves, your families and the larger society. But I also understand that without the guidance, understanding, support, and recognition of government leaders, and other decision-makers, you are often unequipped for full participation in the decisions that affect your lives.
Understandably, most discussions about you are often about your tomorrow mostly because you supposedly represent the future of our nation. Ideally, you represent vitality and strength. You should represent resourcefulness and innovativeness. But, what about your today? Every person’s tomorrow is defined by his today’s opportunities and strengths. This is why you need genuine guidance, particularly about choices. Without genuine guidance, and despite your vitality and strength, despite your readiness to be all and championing causes here and there, you may be making perceptive inadequacies.
That is why the elderly would often look at a young person while speaking about an issue or taking a position, and with the shake of the head conclude: “agba wa bura bi ewe o se o ri” (let an elder confess if he has not once been childish), reminiscing on their own similarly perceived youthful exuberance. In other words, the elderly had seen the same, had probably felt the same and had perhaps even taken similar steps being now canvassed by the youth, and has discovered their futility or foolishness. Age and wisdom can help to chart a good cause for the young and that is why today entrepreneurship and leadership studies emphasise the place of mentorship in the creation and sustenance of goals and visions.
And that is why today I seek to address the teeming and dynamic youths of Kwara state; my brothers and sisters, who no doubt have a key role to play in the unfolding political calculations in our state. In this season, it won’t be strange seeing politicians coming with barrage of stories and promises for the youths, knowing that they are the category of voters most concerned about the future, their future, their hope, aspiration. But, my dear brothers and sisters, circumspection is required to navigate the often deceptive and manipulative tendencies of politicians, especially those that seek legitimacy out of our shores. Let age and experience guide us against their politics of hate.
For those of us who have been on ground for a time longer than the age of many of our youths, those of us who have traversed beyond their politics of bitterness and have had intellectual engagements with them, it is easier to tell you their mindset. They seek legitimacy away from our land and our destiny. Other than their “Ótó gé” mantra by which they seek the downfall of their brother, what else are they bringing to the table? They are not talking about your education. They are not discussing about improved health care services or any alternative to the current health insurance scheme that has won international awards. They are not proffering solutions to increasing number of unemployed youth even in the face of our dwindling resource allocation from the Federal Government. What option do they have for our established successful mechanism for internally generated revenue through which we have been able to pay state civil servants, with huge potential of helping local government authorities off-set arrears of salaries of local government workers.
Let the agents of destabilisation lay down their plan for infrastructural development of our state. In 16 years, the current system has produced several higher institutions in the state that doubled higher institutions in the preceding 34 years. The same system revived our aviation industry through which they now ply their trade. I’m not talking about various road rehabilitation and construction across the state. Yet they say Ótó gè. Their bitterness is simply because opportunities have been provided for anyone who demonstrates sufficient competence and capability. A concerned citizen once asked them questions they are yet to find answers to: how many siblings of Bukola have ever served as Secretary to the State, Head of Service, Commissioner, Accountant General, Permanent Secretary, S.A to the State Government etc since 1978? How many family members of Bukola have ever been nominated for one state employment, federal employment, parastatal employment, hot company like NNPC employment etc? How many siblings of Bukola had served or are serving as Board Members of State or Federal or are in the Government of Abdulfatah Ahmed now? The answer is simple, NONE! SIMPLICITER!
Now the tragedy here is that those who now lead this rebellion against their brother and kinsman are the very ones who were empowered by the same system they now seek to destroy. God forbid! And the only identifiable reasons for their action is greed, greed and greed. They want to be it all. Having been privileged to exhibit their competence, they seek to destroy the ladder through which they climbed to the roof top.
Now, ridiculously and provocatively, they joined other sworn enemies of our root and legacy to accuse Saraki of masterminding the Offa robbery. How on this planet can any sane person accuse the Wazirin Ngeri of robbery? A first class medical doctor who was born into wealth, worked and walked to become number three man in the country? That was the height of hatred for Ilorin and Kwara State. How can people who thrive on lies, hate and violence help Kwara State. How can people who virtually surrendered our sovereignty to people outside our state help our state? How can people who need help from outside help anybody? These are people without any idea or plan other than to destroy their brother.
As a youthful governor in 2003, Saraki surrounded himself with several young people. See the list: Abdulfatah Ahmed, Bolaji Abdullahi, Razak Atunwa, Dr. Ahmad Ali, Zakari Mohammed, Alhaji Moshood Mustapha (MM), Dr Abubakar Kannike, to mention but a few. These are just but few among the many whom Saraki has surrounded himself with; sharing with them his experiences in governance and politics and giving them opportunities to demonstrate their unique capabilities. Ahmed became governor, Abdullahi became a famous Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Rafiu, Atunwa and Zakari are fronting federal legislators today, no matter what.
YouWin which has now become N-Power was the brain child of these men, starting first in Kwara as KWABES before being adopted at the federal level. MM was in the same league in the National Assembly, churning out critical bills for the growth of this nation when he was there. And go and find out, these were young, politically inexperienced youths when Saraki identified them and nurtured them into limelight. They didn’t have to pay anything to be tutored. And today, in one way or the other, these men have brought glory to Kwara in many ways. These are Kwarans pure and simple and their only qualification was not who they knew but what they possess in their brain.
And check out the record of interactions and employment between youths and politicians today; Saraki still stands far out than his opponents. His aides are mostly youths and in the run off to this election, youths in his camp are playing active roles. In his party, youths are active leaders, learning under some selected elders. He has a regular interaction with them, online and in real life. He is on the same page with young people and their desires and aspirations for a better Nigeria. Truth be told, if Saraki had intended to profit himself from the current political dispensation, he could easily have identified with the ruling party and secured their ‘forgiveness’ and walk the streets as he likes. But for someone who knows that there is a tomorrow that does not belong to him but the younger generation he has decided to face the challenges and risks.
Dear Youths of Kwara state, this is your man to follow, not someone who comes to rouse your emotion during elections and runs away thereafter with no concrete plan and follow up for your sake.