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2015: Stakeholders warn against engaging youths in violence

Seven months to the 2015 general elections, some stakeholders have warned against the use of the nation’s youths to foment trouble by selfish politicians, DAYO OKETOLA and FISAYO FALODI write

Violent activities involving youths have become a source of major concern to stakeholders in the country. The stakeholders, who blamed the current security challenges confronting the country on lack of jobs for the nation’s teaming youths and corruption by political office holders, have decried lack of focus by the leaders to put the country on the path of development.   The stakeholders’ advice followed a recent report by a Non-Governmental Organisation, CLEEN Foundation, which says that electoral violence is likely to occur in 15 states during the 2015 general elections.

The report claimed that the country’s security situation could be seen as a reflection of the failure of the government to protect its citizens.

The report listed the states that are likely to experience the violence to include Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Kaduna, Zamfara, Rivers, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Ekiti and Osun.

Some people, predominantly youths engaged in violence in which some of them were reportedly injured in Ile-Ife, Osun State, over the celebration of the victory of the state governor, Alhaji Rauf Aregbesola in the last election.

As the 2015 general elections draw near, the concerned stakeholders, who flayed the security challenges that have been confronting the country in the last five years, advised the Nigerian youths to shun attempts by politicians to use them to achieve personal interests.

The stakeholders are of the view that the over 70 million Nigerian youths should not make the poverty of their parents an excuse to surrender themselves to be used by politicians to cause violence during the next general elections.

An elder statesman and the former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, asked the youths to always support efforts that would provide better future for them instead of yielding to politicians’ antics for the purpose of using them to foment trouble.

Acknowledging that the rate of unemployment in the country is alarming, Musa, who spoke with naijagossipers.com in an interview during the week, said, “Nothing preserves a nation’s future than its vibrant youths; so, as the nation’s future leaders, the youths should not accept any call on them to cause violence or to rig election as a result of their joblessness.

“It may be true that their parents are poor and may not be able to provide some of their needs for them, but that should not be used as an excuse to surrender their rights and future to politicians who don’t care about them.

“The youths must also analyse the political parties critically so as to make a decision on which among them to support. They should not also forget that it is their responsibility to always agitate for better socio-economic and political system for the country.”

The elder statesman also has a word for the nation’s political parties, asking them to always present credible and God-faring candidates for elections.

He said, “The leaders must not forget that they have the duty to tackle all the corrupt practices rocking the country’s socio-economic and political landscape. For Nigeria to develop, the country must tackle all the economic and political corruption confronting it.”

The Publicity Secretary of the Conference of the Nigerian Political Parties, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, asked the youths to shun deception by politicians by examining the political parties they represent.

Okechukwu, who decried the level of decadence that had permeated the nation’s socio-political landscape in the last 15 years that democracy returned to Nigeria, asked the youths to resist attempts by anybody or group of individuals to lure them into criminality.

He said, “As the country is preparing for another round of general elections, the youths would do themselves a lot of good by not only resisting attempts by politicians to lure them to foment trouble, but they will definitely reap the benefits of living in a peaceful environment as they shun all social vices.

“The youths must also understand that it is their responsibility to participate in the election processes by registering and voting for the political parties of their choice. They should not allow their joblessness to becloud their sense of reasoning by gullibly offering themselves to cause violence in the country.”

A poet and social commentator, Mr. Odia Ofeimu, did not limit the advice to the youths, but extended it to all Nigerians. He asked the citizens to demand for leaders who would lay emphasis on production of goods instead of consumption.

He said, “Nigerians should discriminate between politicians who want the country to be producer and those who want it to be consumer; Nigerians need politicians who are interested in the creation of producers and not consumers.”

Flaying importation of virtually every consumable item to the country, the poet tasked the leaders to invest in education that tends towards making the citizens producers.

The religious leaders also added their voice to the advice. The Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Osun State, Revd. Elisha Ogundiya, asked the youths to preoccupy their mind with the thought of how to ensure that peace reign in the country.

The cleric, like others, described the youths as the future of the country.

He said, “Nigerian youths must be seen working for and promoting peace in the country; they must support efforts aimed at promoting peaceful co-existence in every part of the country.”

Ogundiya, who did not limit his advice to the youths, asked the nation’s politicians to stop tampering with the future of the country by engaging the youths in constructive and positive activities.

He said, “Nigerian politicians should not involve the youths in pursuing their personal interests. Their desperation for power and other political interests should not be extended to ruin the country’s future.

“The politicians have the responsibility of grooming the youths for leadership positions; they are to lay good examples for the youths to follow. The politicians should stop hiring them for violence and other fraudulent activities.”

The Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede’s advice is not different from others, but only added that the youths must think rightly at all times so that they would be able to discern when any politician is planning to use them for their selfish interests.

He said, “The youths should not allow themselves to be exploited for selfish interests by politicians.

“They must also remember to vote for the candidates of their choice during the next general elections because their votes determine what happens to their future.

“They should be reasonable enough to shun parochial interests while casting their votes; they should not fall for the tactics of politicians.”

To a rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, the youths must form a formidable team to salvage the country from its current woes.

Recalling that the Nigerian Youth Movement started the agitation for the attainment of independence from the British for the country in the early 1920s, Ogunye tasked the youths to begin a patriotic movement to free the country from its socio-political challenges.

The rights activist, who hailed the role played by the youths during the dictatorial military era, asked them to stop putting themselves at the service of politicians.

He said, “Nigerian politicians have a history of using the young and the old for their selfish interests without caring for them. So, as a vibrant segment of the population, the youths should form a formidable movement to challenge the nation’s leaders to do the right things.

“As the country is approaching the 2015 general elections, the youths should stop placing themselves at the service of those who are not interested in bettering not only their lots, but Nigerians as a whole. They must shun politicians who are simply interested in perpetuating themselves in office or getting to office by hook or crook.”

Ogunye, however, flayed a section of the youths for endorsing politicians that had yet to declare their intention to vie for political offices.

He said, “It is very disturbing that the National Association of Nigerian Students that aggregates the interests of Nigerian students in tertiary institutions should start giving awards to politicians, some of who have been jailed in recent time, as well as endorsing a particular President that has not declared his candidature.

“So, as the vibrant section of the country, the youths must not allow politicians to capitalise on their susceptibility to be used for all sorts of abuses, including being used as thugs to cause violence and as endorsers of those gunning for political offices.

“The role they played along with market women and artisans during the military regime was documented, so it is expected of them to help rescue Nigeria from the grip of selfish politicians.”

The Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nwogu, who first said that the term “youth” had been abused, asked the young Nigerians to be cautious of thoughtless politicians whose only concern is to safeguard the interests of their children.

“The youths must keep off trouble and danger,” he added.

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