Take back your country, ‘away with the old guards’, Obienyem urges Nigerian youths

Posted by News Express | 6 August 2022 | 382 times

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•Barrister Obienyem



An Awka-based businessman and Communication Consultant, Barrister Valentine Obienyem, has called on Nigerian youths to take back their country and not allow the old guards who employ the instrument of religion and ethnicity to cause divisions to define their future.

Obienyem, while delivering a paper “Youths Political Participation, Good Governance and Social Inclusion”, during the Youth Week of Sacred Heart Chaplaincy in Awka on August 3, 2022, also said youths were essential part of nation-building, more open to reforms and if properly guided and directed, have the capacity to make a nation great because they have the requisite energy and enthusiasm.

According to Obienyem, “It has become customary for old people of over 50 years to pass off as youths when The African Youth Charter defines youth as an individual between the ages of 15 and 35; while the Nigerian Youth Policy categorizes them in the 18-35 years bracket.

“Daily we are inundated with such declarations as “The Future Belongs to the Youth,” “The Youth are the Leaders of Tomorrow,” “A Nation that neglects its youths is bound to fail,” and so on. As far back as we can pry into history, we read of great philosophers making profound statements about the youth. For instance, Euripides said: “Who so neglects learning in his youth loses the past and is dead to the future;” while Benjamin Disraeli asserted that “the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.” For Benjamin Franklin, “reckless youth makes rueful age.” Embedded in each of this saying is the fact that the youth is associated with the future.

“Youths, as could be detected from the tenor of the paper, are essential part of nation-building. If properly guided and directed, they have the capacity to make a nation great because they have the requisite energy and enthusiasm. Limited in perspective, they are malleable, with astonishing environmental adaptability that makes them suitable to flower wherever they are positively nurtured.

“More than the elderly one, the youth are more open to reforms. Ask the youth here what is going on around the world, they know more than you and because they are always on the move, surfing the net according to their selective and general interests. Those that are interested in politics have the capacity for comparative studies; they easily detect what other countries are doing better and how to imitate or surpass them.

“The youth are more liberal. Those of you that have done their youth services can attest to the brotherhood that pervaded the camps. But once you return back, the elderly ones employ the instrument of religion and ethnicity to divide you.”

Reflecting on youth’s capacity, Obienyem listed some in Nigeria and other countries who achieved great feats for their nations and made remarkable impacts before they turned age 40.

He said: “At this juncture, it is good to observe that the youth’s capacity to change their countries is not just a matter of rhetoric, many youths have or are doing it at the highest levels. Therefore, we note the following:

“Gabriel Boric became the president of Chile at 35; Giacomo Somoncini became the Captain Regent of San Marino at 26; Sanna Marin became the Prime Minister of Finland at 34; Vjosa Osmani became the President of Kosovo at 38; Carlos Alvarado became the President of Costa Rica at 38; Jacinda Ardern became the Prime Minister of New Zealand at 37 and Emmanuel Macron became the president of France at 39.

“In Nigeria, we have also had those that became leaders at a relatively young age. Gen. Gowon became the Head of State at 32. During Obasanjo’s tenure as Military Head of State, he was 39. Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu moved the country at 34. We may doubt or disagree with their routes to renown, but we would not dismiss their attainments.”

Continuing, Obienyem said that the old leaders still wanting to rule should realise that things have changed hence he encouraged them to allow the youths who have modern ideas propelled by technology to take over political positions.

“But the tragedy of Nigeria is that most of those old leaders are still around, taking turns at the governance of the country. This questions the smartness of our youths. At 86, some of them are still shouting “it is my turn,’ without realising that things are changing.

“Have you been to our major markets recently? It is amusing to see those great traders of old come to market as a matter of routine, watching their sons who have taken over use the Android phones to conduct over 90 per cent of the businesses, including importation. This is what leadership should be today. There must be conscious ceding of the space to the youth who are laden with modern ideas that are propelled by technology.

“Now is the time for the elderly ones to realise that the world has changed tremendously and require the young ones. Where they refuse, the world will leave them behind. Thus, the young ones are encouraged to take back their country. What I am saying in effect is that your participation in politics is essentially going to come through your conscious efforts. What is happening today is commendable. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the youth of the country have risen and are united in shouting: “Away with the Old Guards.”

Source: News Express

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