Nigerian youths will play critical roles in shaping the country’s political and economic future, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, has said.
He said this can be achieved when they become more active in politics and encourage platforms for more constructive engagements on national issues.
Osinbajo stated this during the maiden Progressive Youth Conference organised by APC Youth wing at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
The Vice President, who was the guest speaker at the conference themed, “The Future is a Decision,” said more political participation by majority of the country’s youths would, more importantly, help them to contribute to making meaningful changes which only those in government can can bring about.
“It is evident just from voter-turnout alone that the vast majority of young people either do not register to vote or do not vote.”
“Those who even participate at all would rather engage within the very constrained space of social media platforms or join pressure groups.
“Neither of these is necessarily bad, but while media engagements and pressure groups may draw attention to the issues, they do not transform the lives of millions for good or ill. So, if you are keen on how the future will turn out, you must be involved in politics.
“Growing up, I was also in a number of pressure groups, concerned with corruption, human rights and democracy. I wrote papers and argued at conferences but it was only in 1999 when the AD won elections in Lagos that I was able to serve as Attorney General, and working with several colleagues, we carried out a major reform of the justice sector in Lagos State. We had to participate politically, otherwise all our great ideas may never be tried.”
The Vice President added that it is crucial for young Nigerians, with like minds, already involved in politics to influence others to also participate.
He said, “While you all must be commended for joining and remaining a part of a political party, the major numerical force in our society, which you represent, is not engaged as yet. You have a duty to persuade, evangelize and recruit them.”
Emphasizing that politics is majorly about dedication and service to the people, the Vice President urged youths not to be discouraged from joining politics because of negative sentiments associated with politics in the country.
He said, “Politics is about service to the people, but at the heart of that is that it is about ideas, and, of course, numbers. Movements of every kind are activated around ideas, and numbers. The larger the number of those persuaded by an idea, the stronger the movement.
“So being involved and getting others involved is crucial. The task then is to aggregate the majority of the party around your preferred point of view. That has to be done by standing firm on sound principles, but also being ready to give-and-take on methodology for achieving shared objectives and common causes.
“We have a duty to raise the bar of political discourse and focus the minds of the public on the issues that matter most to the majority.”
Speaking on the challenges of security and unemployment, the Vice President stated that the Buhari administration would not relent in tackling the issues, while working to improve other areas such as healthcare and education nationwide.
He added that the Administration’s Social Investment Programmes remain a key pillar to provide welfare to the poor and vulnerable in society.
“These issues are the business of governments, and security and welfare of the people particularly are its primary responsibility. And as Mr. President has said we have the capacity to resolve them, and we will. In resolving these issues, the party and its think-tanks have huge roles to play. We must contribute to the pool of ideas.”