By Faith Igbudu & Dennen Achussah
Ahead of 2023 general elections, youths under the aegis of Youth Assembly of Nigeria (YAN), a non partisan organization, have began agitation for youth inclusiveness in the democratic governance of Nigeria.
This was the focus as the Benue state chapter of the organization in collaboration with the Jeffrey Kuruan Foundation, on Saturday held the maiden edition of the Benue youth interactive session 2021 in Makurdi.
Speaking, National Speaker YAN, Shuaibu Sani said the goal of the organization is to address the leadership problem in the country and chart a way forward.
“The theme was carefully selected. The issue that affects us is basically the issue of leadership. If we get it right in terms of leadership, all the problems bedeviling us as youth will be a thing of the past. Leadership that will give us all.
“We need to take our destiny in our own hands and the time is now.
“I appeal to the leadership of YAN Benue State to come up with a blueprint for each senatorial zone with regards to their perculiar problems to enable active participation.
“YAN will only support those we have checked and are sure will represent the interest of the youth in this country,” Shuaibu said.
Guest Speaker at the occasion, a 2021 Benue governorship aspirant, Dr Jeffrey Kuruan in his presentation with the theme ‘youth participation in governance, successes, challenges and prospects’ said youth should be given a chance to participate in the democratic process of the nation in order to enjoy meaningful and lasting development.
In his words: “Naturally, as a youth by conventional standard, I am always eager in discussions like this because it avails me with the opportunity to explain in vivid terms to every political stakeholders in Nigeria why I think the youth must be involved in governance if the system must function well and yield the right dividends that would create stability in every sector and ensure a sustainable development.
“The inclusion of youth in decision making is sacrosanct. There can be no meaningful development without the active participation of youth” he said, while maintaining that “it will be a very big mistake if the youth decide to surrender and accept the unreasonable and unsavoury choice if doing nothing or sitting on the fence while our collective destiny is toyed with on a daily basis through what I call a strategic disenfranchising of the youth.”
He stated further that “a multi-faceted approach is required to usher Nigeria into the comity of Nations where youth have taken over governance and creating the right atmosphere for the advancement of the human race through good governance.”
The option, according to Kuraun is for the youth to come together and “recover the lost years and give the next generation a reason to be proud is us.”
“As we take steps to be involved in the process of governance in our dear country Nigeria, let us know that nothing good comes easy and that is why we should walk together and go far, instead of walking alone and moving very fast, without any remarkable progress,” he concluded.
Responding to some questions raised at the event, Kuruan said “my vision for Benue state is to take governance to the lowest quarters.”
The governorship aspirant observed that although “money politics” and “pervading poverty” have discouraged youth involvement in politics and governance, his election into the seat of power will change the narrative.
He promised that his administration will focus on a strategy he calls ‘EASY WIG’ – Economy, Agriculture, Security, Youth, Women, Institution and the Girl child.
In a discussion segment, A panelist, Mr John Kennedy Ikyase, a lecturer, Department of Political Science, Federal University, Wukari, representing Mrs Mnena Ikondo-Ikpa noted that “we started well as youths until 1979 when those who ruled as youth decided to hijack the nation and impose themselves as godfathers over the country.”
He challenged the youth to avoid being used to do the whims and caprices of the elderly people.
Another panelist, Doosuur Hannah, centered her message on equality, especially for the female youth, saying they also have so much to give, noting that chanting the mantra ‘build a woman, sustain the nation’ is not enough.
In an opening remark, Benue State YAN National Ambassador, Amos Eche, noted that YAN in Benue state is working asidiously to contribute to development of the nation. He said that all 14 ethnic tribes in the state are represented in the state house.
Earlier, in a welcome address, Benue State Speaker, YAN, Vincent Iorshe assured that the organization is non partisan and does not seek to promote any political party or candidate.