AS the world marked International Youth Day on Wednesday, some Nigerian politicians urged for a more inclusive government, where youths are given a level playing field as well as the opportunity to participate in governance.
Olusegun Obasanjo, an 83-year-old former two-time president of Nigeria, while delivering a keynote address at an interactive session held virtually to mark the day, asked African youths to ‘squeeze’ out the older generation from public offices for a chance to lead the country themselves.
Obasanjo stated that unless a paradigm shift is initiated, ‘old people’ would hold on to political power for as long as can be.
“Unless you squeeze out those who are in office and those who want to remain in office perpetually, some after the age of 80, unless you squeeze them out, they will not want to be out,” the former president said.
“The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark upon is to subscribe to the constitution of political parties in favour of youths.
“Or if you like it you call it affirmative action in favour of youths. For instance, if you say, in the constitution of a political party, not less than 50 per cent of those who hold executive office within the party will be less than 40 years.
“You can even go beyond that and say that people who will be put up for election, not less than 50 per cent of them will be less than 40 years of age. That’s affirmative action. That’s positive discrimination in favour of youths,” he said.
According to the United Nations, the theme of International Youth Day 2020 is “Youth Engagement for Global Action.”
Bukola Saraki, president of the Nigerian 8th National Assembly in a message noted that Nigeria and Africa at large can only fulfil their potential if youths are educated and equipped to participate in governance processes.
António Guterres, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General in his speech to mark the occasion, stated that today’s young people are resilient, resourceful and engaged, adding that they are mobilizing for climate action, racial justice, gender equality and other global goals.
Guterres called on world leaders to enable the youths participate in the affairs governance, while ensuring that they enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity.