By Olaolu Oladipo, Lagos
A commissioner in the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), Mr. Lateef Raji has counseled youths in the country to take advantage of their numerical strength to make meaningful impacts in politics and governance.Speaking as a guest lecturer organized by members of the National Association of Nigeria Students at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education (ACOED), Otto Ijanikin on Thursday, he admitted that though the youth are faced with challenges that impede their quest to take up leadership roles in the society, they however surmount them.
He spoke on the topic: â€˜The Role of Students/Youths in the Electioneering Process: Lagos State Local Government Election as a Case Study.â€™
While stating that issues bordering on the welfare of the youths are of paramount interest to him, Nigeria must invest in the future of the youth if the desired goal of developing the country must be attained.
Raji said the youth should at the vanguard of navigating the country away from the current problems confronting the country just as he highlighted the roles played by Nigerian youths at different periods in Nigerian history.
â€œLet me, however, stress that for us to successfully confront these problems, we would need the active participation of a visionary and focused youth in the political process.
â€œThe youth should be more active in the political process because issues decided in the political arena affect their lives,â€ he said, adding that â€œYouth brings fresh ideas and active vitality to public affairs but also has the disadvantage of not having experienced many of the trials of life that older people have been through.â€
He went down memory lane by recalling the roles played by youths in the past, especially during the struggle for the attainment of independence to further buttressed his call for greater participation of the youth in governance and leadership.
â€œIn Nigeria, the youths have once played prominent role in the political process. They were, for instance, active during the anti-colonial struggle. Some of them formed the famous Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), the Zikist Youth Movement and were prominent in trade unions and other nationalist political parties of the period.
â€œThis tradition continued in the independence period, especiallyÂ in 1962 when Nigerian university studentsÂ prevented the Nigerian government from signing a secret and unjust agreement with the British. This dangerous agreement, called the Anglo-Nigerian Defence Pact, would have allowed the British to leave their soldiers permanently on Nigerian soil despite our independence.â€ He said.
He however admitted that Nigerian youth have been subject to political and religious manipulation by the elites, he counseled that â€œPolitical apathy is a cancer that the youth must brutally expunge from their system. Universally, democracy is referred to as the government of the people by the people and for the people. This emphasizes that it is the people that give impetus to democracy.