Comrade Temitope Adewale is the President, Young Achievers Campaign Organisation of Nigeria, YACOON. In this encounter, he bares his mind on what is required of youths ahead of the 2015 elections.
What is your opinion on youths participation in politics?
In 1967, military coups made a 29 year old Nigerian the Head of State. That was young General Gowon who was not prepared for such a position and lacked the experience to run a complex country like Nigeria. But circumstance made him the leader of Nigeria at her tender age of seven years. Notwithstanding his mistakes, General Gowon is a man I deeply respect, not only for his role in ensuring the unity of this country but also for his willingness to take such enormous responsibilities. He will always be remembered for his statement that Nigeria’s problem is not money but how to spend it. He helped introduce ‘spending’ and not ‘thinking’ as our national problem. Today, most Nigerians are eager to spend without understanding how to generate money. But he did not have the luxury of Nigeria’s history to learn from as most of our youths have today. Youths of today, who have both the lessons of today and the experiences of the over 50-year-old nation, will not get the same sympathy from me as the youths of the seven-year-old Nigeria.
Why are you particular about youths?
Most Nigerian youths interested in politics lack the basic understanding of the constitution. How can you be running for a legislative or an elective position without an in-depth understanding of the constitution? It’s better to enter university without a complete result, than risk the lives of millions of people you seek to represent as a result of your poor preparation and lack of understanding of both the Nigerian constitution and the party constitution which happens to be your platform. Nigeria is yet to recover from the mistakes of General Gowon and others, I doubt if Nigeria is ready to survive a generation of unprepared youths so desperate for power.
But many youths are of the opinion that the elders won’t give them a chance to contest?
The number of youths who have spoken to me about their ambitions and interest in politics but who have in one way or the other lost interest saying the leaders of their party are not carrying them along or giving them the necessary access to reach their goals is quite enormous. But in fairness to the leaders, they have made everything available to those they have identified serious and ready to go into the race.
Recently, I enlightened and listened to many contesting youths and I must say only a few of them understand what really happens in the House of either Representatives or Assembly. Many of them do not even understand governance. Speaking with Hon. Jimi Benson, a trained lawyer and aspirant for the Ikorodu Constituency in Lagos, gave me Joy and confidence that the youths of this nation are preparing. Also Jide Obanikoro, Dammola Kasunmu, Sola Giwa, Ladi Ajomale, Ayodeji Joseph, Moyo Ogunlewe and many others. These are youths who are prepared to take the mantle of power, unlike the so-called Facebook politicians.
What are your expectations from youths in government?
Youths should speak up in one voice, standing up for good governance and saying no to being used as tools for electoral violence. If they say you should pick up arms, tell them to pick it up themselves. Sooner, we shall get there and we will change this nation. It baffles me that the likes of Debola Williams, Chude Jidenwo, Toyosi Akerele, Tosin Ashafa, Sola Adewunmi, Bisoye Cooker, Ismail Ahmed and many other strong, politically inclined and governance-driven youths are not yet in position to govern, it hurts to know that the ones vying for these positions are the ones yet to either read the constitution or understand the meaning of governance. For some reasons are in power either by influence from parents or by political compensations. The reason bad people are in governance is that the good people have failed to perform the civic rights by voting in the good ones.
What will be your advice for potential candidates vying for key offices in the 2015 elections?
Candidates that are not youth-oriented, should forget about contesting at the Nationals, States, Local governments, House of assembly and Representatives. What we are asking for and anything short of that is a waste of time. All parties should be free and fair in the electing candidates to govern us. Proper, free and fair primaries should be conducted; proper debates should be held, there should be a free and fair judgement by votes. The 2015 elections will be peculiar especially in Lagos State as it has produced outstanding candidates from all parties who have expressed their interest. It will be disastrous if the wrong candidates are elected. As we approach the 2015 elections, We want our leaders to know we are fully aware and we will take what is rightfully ours.