Minister of Youth and Sports Development Solomon Dalung has urged youth to rise above all limitations and confront the 2019 general elections with optimism.
Dalung, in an interview with a NAN journalist in New York, advised the youth to seek elective positions in 2019 rather than remain mere electorate.
According to him, however, Nigerian youth must first locate their bearing in the historical evolution of the contribution of youth in the country’s leadership.
He said: “The Nigerian Youth Movement was set up by a young person – Herbert Macaulay. Our founding fathers, when they were agitating for independence, they were young people.
“Considerably, after independence and during the military rule, we had young people who led this country and their impact was felt.
“Now if the Nigerian youth place themselves within this background, they must also be prepared to confront 2019 with optimism.
“Their participation should not only be limited to voting but they should be seen to be involved in declaring interest in offices that are within the reach and the size of their pocket”.
He noted, however, that politics in Nigeria was a capital-intensive project adding, if young people are seen to be active in it, definitely it is going to send a signal that they are “prepared, ready and willing” to occupy the political space.
“And to our leaders, I want to urge them that we must create political space to accommodate youth leadership.
“We need them, they have the strength, they have the energy, they have the innovations to be able to drive this country to greatness,” he said.
According to him, a combination of the resourcefulness of young people and their energy with the experience and wisdom of elders would build a very strong and perfect society.
Dalung urged the youth to resist the temptation of being used, whether as political mercenaries or in facilitating electoral fraud.
Rather, they must insist that credible leadership, which they have voted for, see the light of the day, he added.
He said: “2019 is going to be a political breakthrough for Nigeria. It is a milestone because it’s going to end an era of a prolonged leadership of the advanced generation.
“And it will open a new page of engagement for young people. So youth in Nigeria should not allow 2019 to pass them by”.
The youth and sports minister, however, said a Nigerian youth President in 2019 may be relatively difficult because of the political system we have in place.
He argued that the 1999-constitutional democracy bestowed on Nigeria by the military appeared to be shrouded with a lot of booby traps that seemed not to project a very good vision of the younger generation.
“Therefore, in 2019, we would still need to have the sustenance of this foundation-laying leadership for the young people to take over because our foundation had been basically fractured.
“Infrastructure in Nigeria is in dilapidated form, our economy is just picking up, the national security is gradually coming out of prolonged insurgency. We need to consolidate on these in 2019 for a stable leadership.”
Dalung admitted that the victory of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was driven by the young people of Nigeria but that the administration did not have a good percentage of the young people involved at the level of policy making and implementation.
To correct this, he said: “The APC Government in 2019, after consolidating on its victory, must now begin a process of incorporating its vision in the younger generation.
“This is so that it can lay a solid foundation and secure the future of this country for the youth. So the prospect I see in 2019 is more of involvement of young people at different levels of policy making and implementation”.