Sola Ajibola: The Case For Youth Inclusion in Top Government Positions In Nigeria

To many Nigerians, ‘Change’ has finally come and to some others, every move by the new government must be critiqued.

The overall interest of Nigerians is priority and as such, it is important that we do not take the usual route of praise singing or blind criticism of the current administration, but point out salient issues that have held the nation bound for years.

The general elections has come and gone, but it is safe to say the campaign period did not only leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some potential political neophytes, but also laid emphasis to the marginalization of the youth demographic (between the ages of 25-39) holding elective positions across the country.

There were many debates about the impact of age and effect of youthful ideas as it affects governance during the campaigns and anyone who is truthful will know that Nigeria ignores the input of the youth in politics and especially in governance.

The case for socio economic inclusion cannot be overemphasized, there is an urgent so need for youth participation in government both at the state and federal level.

Anthony Enahoro was 27 years old when he led the struggle for independence after the death of Herbert Macaulay. The late sage Obafemi Awolowo was 37 and Nnamdi Azikiwe was 42 at the time.

Nigeria’s political history cannot be written without the contribution of the youth, from the time of the 1966 coup led by Ifeanyi Kaduna Nzeogu who was 29 to the time of President Muhammadu Buhari who became a governor at 24 and at 31, was already a head of state.

Many of the military administrators who governed the states under the successive military regimes were below 30 years of age at the time. A number of them are still relevant even up to the current administration.

Even the brief democratic dispensation which interjected the military interregnums also saw the House of Representatives in particular populated majorly by members under 30.

Today, Nigeria’s growing youth demographic make up over 40% of the population with little or no significant representation in government. As much as the wisdom of the elderly is needed in the nation building process, the strength, ideas and versatility of the youth cannot be overlooked.

The world is changing fast and Nigeria need not be left behind.
The power of the youth was brought to bare in the last elections which visibly changed the dynamics. The youth took the campaign to social media, facilitated voters registration and created voter monitoring awareness platforms  which clearly determined the eventual winners.

Consequently, It is only natural to have fair representation of the youth in government based on the value added during the elections.

Nigeria is losing out by failing to harness the untapped potentials of this vibrant 40%. At this point in our democracy, it will not be out of place to have a law in the constitution that ensures youth inclusion in government especially leadership roles such as; Cabinet/Ministerial positions, MDA heads, commissioner roles among others.

In the absence of a law however,  it is not too late for progressive change.

In mentoring the next generation of leaders, It is imperative going forward that the President Buhari led Federal Government lead by ensuring there is significant youth representation in his cabinet.

Same can be done at the state level for example, in cosmopolitan Lagos led by Governor  Ambode and even Govenor el-Rufai in Kaduna who both have shown to be of progressive mindsets.

The inclusion of intelligent young people in cabinet positions will send a clear message that the youth will no longer be taken for granted and are partners to effect positive change by bringing fresh ideas to governance.

We all are aware of the stellar
performances of former Governor of Cross River State Donald Duke and former EFCC boss Nuhu Ribadu who held top government positions at a young age and performed exceptionally.

In conclusion, it is essential that we earnestly tap the ideas of the younger generation by ensuring they have greater opportunities to participate in governance and decision making after all, it is popularly said that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow.

Sola Ajibola


Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of nor its associates

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