Youths should be encouraged to join political parties, says Jideonwo

Chude Jideonwo

As Nigerian youth continue to agitate for the inclusion of young people in Nigerian politics, the Managing Partner of RED, organisers of The Future Award Africa, Chude Jideonwo, observed that the ongoing efforts by individuals and groups to bring the issue to the fore is gradually yielding positive result.

“The impact of all the work people have been doing over the past half decade is massive youth involvement in civil society and democracy building. Massive growth in youth entrepreneurship and innovation and a massive reawakening of cultural production across music, movies and the media powered by an awakened generation of young people,” he said.

The award-winning youth leader, who was listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs, observed that young people have validated the demand side of government, powering a minority into the presidency in 2011 and then the opposition in 2015, but also noted that the supply side is still significantly problematic.

“The rank of 30-year-olds, who became governors in 1999, didn’t make remarkable progress that can be boasted about. Meanwhile, there’s significant disinterest by serious players in state and local government politics. A change in that has begun to happen in Lagos recently but still not enough.”

On the significance of Emmanuel Macron’s election as President of France generating the agitation for youth leadership in Africa, Jideowo noted that barrier breaking is always important.

“Anytime a minority power player on gender or age or race breaks a boundary, everyone wins, and Macron is therefore legitimate inspiration for social engineers and political players with an eye on youth across the world. But what is more important than his youth is his savvy in building a political operation, an attractive policy movement and a winning campaign. I have always said the problem is not the age of leaders; it’s the quality of leaders, of any age,” he said.

Asked if Nigerian youths are prepared for political leadership, he said, “Yes. For the simple reason that they have already proven transformational leadership across business, civil society, clergy and the fourth estate of the realm. There is nothing in governance, therefore, for which this thread of success doesn’t speak up for.”

On the challenges facing Nigerian youths when it comes to politics, Jideonwo, who is also a lawyer by training, listed “access to finance, access to networks and the ability to grow through the ranks.”

Though some individuals and groups are clamouring for a political party in Nigeria strictly for young people as a solution to the problem, Jideonwo thinks otherwise.

“I think it’s a terrible idea. For two key reasons: Youth is not a permanent state and youth is not an ideology; different youths believe in different things. It is more effective for young people to be encouraged to join political parties, to run for office in those political parties and to alter both the rules and leadership equations of those parties.”

On the way forward for the agitation, he said: “We need to begin to pay attention to political primaries. How can we create a system that can produce the best candidates? The candidates we have had so far have not been the best of all options and so citizens have had to make do. Social and political engineers need to combine forces to produce candidates that are the best of us. That’s the first step. It all rises and falls on leadership,” he said.

Meanwhile, the acting Secretary of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) Lagos Chapter, Adejoh Emmanuel, has called on Nigerian youths not to relent in their efforts to pursue leadership positions, as that is the only way to change the political anomalies that characterize the Nigerian political system.

According to Adejoh, the youth have not had a fair treatment in Nigerian politics due to the visionless and personal aggrandizement by corrupt leaders, who are concerned about their selfish interest and cronies.

“It is on this basis and other anomalies that Young Democratic Party (YDP) was formed years back to give young Nigerians and market women platform to seek their constitutional right to contribute to the leadership of this country.”

Emmanuel informed, “YDP is a new idea of hope, lights to build a new Nigeria of our dreams and to build a strong institution and not strong individual. YDP intends to brings hope and a new direction to our teeming Nigerian populace, the youth in particular, with fresh political orientation to democratically empower the people politically and economically,” he said.

The strategy of the party, according to Emmanuel, is to concentrate more at the grass roots, exploit and harness enormous human resources for scientific and technological development.

“We need diversification to move the economy forward which our leaders refused to do before now and the resultant effect is the recession the country is experiencing today. YDP is focusing on a true and viable social democratic system; an all inclusive styles of governance void of tribal, gender, religious, prejudice, stereotypes and sectional consideration in order to timely and decisively deal with all our socio-economic comatose and political quagmire brought upon us by our visionless past leaders,” he said.

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