The Nigerian Political scene is one that spikes conversations and controversies from every part of the country, and politicians who are actors in this scene have made it quite an interesting one. From issues of money embezzlement, to selfishness, to the chief of them all corruption. Different media houses organize shows and programs to talk about these issues but it keeps looking like a solution is not coming and would not come anytime soon.
As part of ways to respond to the overwhelming clamour from young people getting involved in governance, to take power from the old or traditional politicians, the President, Muhammadu Buhari signed the #NotTooYoungToRun bill into law, the bill which sought to reduce the ages of elective positions gave a number of young persons the chance to run for positions in governance.
On the 31st of May, 2018, the president assented to the bill which reduced the age of running for House of Assembly and House of Representative from 30 to 25 years old, Senate and Governorship position from 35 to 30 years old and office of the president from 40 to 30 years old. The bill signed into law gave notable young persons like Fela Durotoye, Omoyele Sowore, Adamu Garba and others the courage to run for the office of the president.
Although, there were controversies at the time and people asked questions like, are young people ready to do politics? Do they have what it takes? Have they learnt? These were the questions that Debo Onifade answered in his book Liberating Nigeria: a guide to winning elections and reviving our country. Speaking at the 2020 Webinar series organized by Liberating Nigeria, an online political forum and jobs.delon.ng, an online job portal for job seekers, graduates and students seeking opportunities.
He said that young politicians whom he refers to as new breed politicians can only be ready to occupy political positions when they are ready to learn from the so called old or traditional politicians. His ideas though seem like totally opposite what young people aspire for comes at a time when youths are seeking to push old people out of government to take over, Onifade proposed a collaboration between youths and the old people. Well, this he said is because new breed politicians need to learn the tactics of politics.
According to him, politics needs to be learnt from people who have years of experience, he urged young people to learn politics so they can know how it is done but it’s quite unfortunate that young people are not ready for this. He thinks new breed politicians are too proud to learn, they feel they know it all and that is why they keep failing at it.
He mentioned that there’s nothing wrong having a godfather as a young politician as it helps to be better positioned to win an election and new breed politicians need godfather’s influence to make it in election, that they only need to get to the position and put the will or interest of the people first. That he said doesn’t mean fighting with the godfather.
Mr Onifade further urged religious leaders to begin to participate in politics and electoral processes by endorsing candidates. He said, the task of taking over governance as young people or new breed politicians lie in the hands of every young person and “good” people like religious leaders for their influence over a large number of people.
Many a times, we have seen pictures of leaders of top churches in Nigeria with political candidates or aspirants taking pictures and all without being articulate on if they support the candidate or not. Onifade opined that religious leaders (churches and mosques) should begin to openly endorse candidates for elections. He said all they need do is prove the candidates, reach a decision who has a better plan for the people and hold them to their words. This he says is a great way of canvassing votes for new breed politicians with good intentions.
Addressing the issue of religious leaders getting scared of losing members or followership and consequently losing fame, he noted that it was nothing to fear for, he mentioned that a large number of people believe in them and will always respect their opinion. Even if their chosen candidate failed to meet up with expectation, there was nothing to be scared about, he said the leader only needs to learn from it and move on sighting cases when religious leaders have made a mistake and yet didn’t lose his members, so there was no cause for alarm.
Religious leaders are great stakeholders in the fight to revive our country Nigeria and the only way we can take back our country from the hands of its oppressors is by winning elections, how then do we win elections if we don’t have a large number of votes in our favour as young persons, knowing fully well that Democracy is a game of numbers. This is why we need religious leaders to endorse new breed politicians as candidates for electoral positions, he reiterated.
Many young persons seek a platform where their voices can be heard and their thoughts can be aired, this is why Debo Onifade has created the Liberating Nigeria political forum for discussions such as this, register and join at liberatingnigeria.com.