By Emmanuel Onwubiko
If you flip through the pages of the Sunday Thisday of today, the first colourful advert that will greet your sense of admiration because of the high aesthetic beauty is that of the former Vice President of Nigeria and the Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The young and ebergetiv looking Alhaji Atiku Abubakar wore a blavk designer suit, immaculate white shirt with an orange coloured tie. He obviously was clean shaven.
Proceeding further you will also encounter a set of adverts by the incumbent President and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 Presidential election Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
Whilst i was drafting this piece, my attention was drawn to the emerging fact that indeed Atiku Abubakar has frontloaded his policy document and didn’t have to wait till 12 noon tomorrow as previously announced. Probably, Atiku Abubakar read the details of Buhari’s agenda and decided to circulate his own blueprints so as not to be left behind.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, promised to create three million jobs every year if he is elected as president in the 2019 election.
This according to information filtering in is one of the key points in the policy document released by the PDP flagbearer today (Sunday), which details a seven-year timeline in which he intends to deliver on his campaign promises.
Did i just read that he had a 7-year plan? This then means that he has recanted his earlier pledge to spend just a single term of four years and may have indicated that he would seek his full two terms of four years each making eight years if he wins in Feruary next year.
Apart from job creation, the document also lists three other areas of priority namely infrastructure development, human capital development and poverty eradication.
According to the former Vice President, he has plans to lift 50 million Nigerians out of poverty, by 2025.
Furthermore, he stated that he has plans to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and also sell all four national refineries.
Other areas of focus in terms of infrastructure is the construction of 5,000 kilometres of roads, and 5,000 kilometres of modern railway.
A statement released on Saturday, by the Atiku Campaign Organisation, had explained that Atiku’s decision to kick-start his presidential campaign with the launch of his policy document was to reiterate his commitment to running an issue-based campaign.
It added that the intention was to take their policy directly to Nigerians.
However, the very thrilling coincidence in the two advertorials from these diametrically opposed and sworn opponents in the coming Presidential poll is that both of these materials make heavy weather of the relevance of the new media.
Both campaigns are in a battle of information technology to win the hearts and minds of the millions of youthful voters.
This information technologically designed battle of witscan be deciphered from the fact that both candidates clearly asked Nigerians to visit their distinctive websites on the World Wide Web to digest what constitute their agenda if elected.
Atiku Abubakar on his own part took the advantage of the colourful advertorial aforementioned to announce that come Monday November 19th 2018 that he would be launching his manifesto live on the social media network of Facebook. As i noted above, Atiku has already jumpstarted the launch of his plan by issuing a media statements ad a powerful response to the detailed agenda or a policy document already circulated in the print media today by the incumbent President.
However, in the advertisement aforementioned, Atiku Abubakar calls his blueprint “My plan for getting Nigeria to work again”.
Atiku thereafter informed Nigerians that soon after he addresses the nation as stated, he would upload the blueprints on his well secured but friendly website for the reading pleasure of all Nigerians.
Muhammadu Buhari also termed his campaign as THE NEXT LEVEL. He also took centre spread advertorials in full colours to highlight the thematic areas of development that his pilitical blueprints are focused on even as he also has a dedicated website in which it is expected that Nigerians can access those campaign pledges. He made bold statements tondevelopment the agroallied industry, infrastructures, health and job creation.
Buhari was featured as a cartoon character alongside his vice and predictably his running mate, Professor Yemi Osinbanjo in a very beautiful artistic form.
Buhari did not mention the youth as a critical broad based sub-theme that is a strategic component or aspect of his The Next Level political campaign agenda.
In the explanatory centre spread advertorial, Buhari however started by promising to do a lot to improve the employment situation and then mentioned that he would train 200,000 youth for outsourcing market in technology, services and entertainments. He nevertheless gave his intention to continue with such programmes that are targeted at poverty reduction through conditional cash transfers which are however dismissed as amounting to tokenism.
Atiku on his own had earlier promised to give the youth a sense of belonging by allocating 40 percent of the cabinet level appointments to youth.
On the other hand Buhari promised what he calls inclusion in government including 35% affirmative action whilst he also promised to include youth as members of boards.
He (Muhammadu Buhari) made no commitment to include the youth in his cabinet. Right now the minister of youth development and sports in the current government Solomon Dalung is a man in his late sixties who does not qualify as a younth. Possibly, the only cabinet level member of the current government that can qualify as a young person is the minister of Finance who is the step sister of the Kaduna state governor- Nassir Elrufai.
Going through the patterns of how these two political heavyweights have commenced their campaigns based on their disposition and readiness to market their blueprints through the new media, what it shows is that they both accept the strategic place of the young people of Nigeria in the political calculations of this country.
This is because statistically, there are over 60 million young accounts holders in the social media who are very active.
Most Nigerian youths are information technology savvy and very active on the social media.
It can be assumed that Atiku and Buhari are aware of the potentials of the youth of Nigeria who are active on social media.
Marketing their campaign blueprints in the social media is therefore a vote of confidence on the young peole of Nigeria.
It therefore follows that there is the need to meticulously analyse their blueprints to assess their agenda for the teeming number of young persons in Nigeria.
What this shows also is that Muhammadu Buhari has changed his view of the youth from his widely condenmed position which he stated during one of his many foreign tours during which he termed the youth as lazy.
Perhaps, Buhari has woken up from his negative attitudes towards the youth including his very recent diatribe targeting Nigerian youth who are embarking on foreign travels for greener pastures.
Buhari had sarcasticically told those young Nigerians going abroad due to the bad security situation and the perilous economic outlook of the Country that they are free to go to wherever they want to if they don’t like Nigeria.
But Atiku began his campaign by enticing the youth by promising to just do a single term and to hand over to a young person. But he has cleverly renounced and reneged on this pledge by bringing out a blueprint that he plans to implement within 7 years.
In this piece therefore, i tasked my research consultant Miss Obilor GraceCliffs EbubeChukwu with the task of interviewing young persons who are her contemporaries who are young to bring up a broad based youth agenda for the Presidential candidates. This she has discharged creditably and has come up with positions that reflects the wider impressions of what most young Nigerians consider as the youth agenda for the post-2019 Presidency.
She ( Obilor GraceCliffs EbubeChukwu) immediatelly offered the profoundly rich write up disclosing that Nigeria being so populated is mostly filled with young people from different ethnic groups but yet our parliaments are filled with older people. This is the summation of her broadbased findings drawn from the random interviews she carried out amongst divergent young Nigerians from across all spectrums. The views of these young interviewees ranged from calls to mainstream the youth participation in civil governance to such areas such as implementation of youth friendly items by the winner of the forthcoming Presidential election.
To the young persons who spoke with my research assistant, the history of Nigeria is replete with the absence of involvement of the ypung persons in the governance structures of the nation since inception. For these young persons there are recorded evidence to demonstrate that most of the political leaders produced either through military take overs or democratic process, that there are not enough of the young as expected because the youths have being tagged lazy due to their inability to fully participate in the political activities that goes on in the country.
These young persons expressed optimism that that the coming of “NOT TOO YOUNG TO RULE” bill that became an Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue if it been passed by the National Assembly in the current dispensation and signed by the 75 year old President Muhammadu Buhari, our youths became so vibrant as regards to the much expected 2019 presidencymial poll. They affirmed that as it stands now, we have some amazing young Nigerians who are calling for change in the nation even as they have decided to bring forth a new Nigeria.
The youth agenda which must be made integral aspects of the policy document of the Presidential candidates is to make sure that Nigeria is being restructured since the current political structure is inherently defective and has beome perennially dysfunctional.
According to them the 2019 presidential elections is going to be one of it’s kind in the history of this great nation.
Hear them: “We have the likes of Chike UKaegbu 35 years, Fela Durotoye 46 years, Enyinnaya Nnaemeka Nwosu 40years, Ahmed Buhari 40 years, Charles Udeogaranya 46 years, Mathias Tsado 41 years, Eniola ojajuni 39 years, Olu James Omosule 48 years, and Tope Fasua 47 years.”
“These young people have different visions for Nigeria, they want to make Nigeria a home for all by looking into our unemployment status, inefficient power supply, lack of health infrastructure, our Educational system and many more.”
As aforementioned, in series00 of interviews with some young people, Mr. Onuoha Reuben, from Umuahia Abia State, a civil servant and also the founder of VOICE OF THE YOUTHS group told us that the youths are considered warriors of any society; he said that the youths play a vital role in the progress of any country which Nigeria is not an exception.
The respondent by name Mr. Reuben went further to say that the President of France is in his early 40s and his people are happy to have him as a young President, but talking about Nigeria our great nation ,we can testify that the elderly ones have presided over the country for decades now and the style of leadership seems to be the same.
Finally, Mr. Reuben said we need to try a young democratic president to see what he has to offer, he may end up restructuring Nigeria so that it can be a home for all.
Mr. Atuluku Victor Levi from Igala tribe in Kogi East, the Senior Special assistant to the Governor of Kogi State on media matters told us that the policy thrust of the administration is to cut cost and boost revenue which will in turn yield more money to fund capital projects and welfare programs which can make Nigeria a home for all. In conclusion, Mr. Victor told us that this Boost will help our socio-economic life and also the youths at large.
Mr. Chiemela Samuel, the Executive Director of Babcock international Model United Nations, who lives in Kaduna State told us that there is no hope for the Nigerian youth in the post 2019 presidency. Mr. Samuel told us that between now and future general elections in this great nation, no youth is coming to power just as he said the only way a youth can emerge is if Atiku Abubakar wins the 2019 elections, then that is the surest way the youths can be in the Agenda in this great Country, but if it goes the other way round, it will continue to be a recycle of old men. Perhaps, this respondent was alluding to a media statement credited to a former military President retired military General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida in which he pointedly asked the Septuagenarian President Muhammadu Buhari to stand down and allow younger candidates to cintest to bevome president since what he currently offers is at best an analogue leadership style which is absolutely unsuitable for a 21st century Nigeria.
Coming to what the Nigerian youth want so as to make Nigeria a home for all, Mr. Samuel said, the youths needs enabling environment, sufficient funds to take care of the education system. He went ahead to say that the educational system of Nigeria does not prepare young Nigerians to face the domestic challenges that are confronting her as a nation. Mr. Samuel concluded by saying that the creation of well equipped hospitals, quality health care system and an enabling business environment is what Nigerian youths need so as to make the nation a home for all.
On his part, Mr. Adeola Jimoh Otaniyi, the youth ambassador/president Nigerian purpose driven youths, who stays in Kano state said that the involvement of the youths in politics will be a very good advantage to them, looking at the government of the day, you will see that the youths are sidelined, hence those who are involved in this government are not more than 0.75% of the entire youth’s population.
Mr. Jimoh went ahead to say that in 2019 and beyond the youths wants to be involved in political activities, they no longer want to be marginalized anymore.
Talking about what the youths want so as to make Nigeria a home for all, Mr. Jimoh said it really depends on status, choice, want, location, age, priority, ambition and individual dreams and goals just as he said the youths need an enabling environment with basic amenities of life such as good road network, electricity, adequate water supply, skills and acquisition centers, well built and equipped hospital and empowerment programs. Finally, Mr. Jimoh said that the Nigerian youths need advanced technologies mostly in the area of farming, so as to make Nigeria a home for all.
Mr. Chukwuma Linus, a graduate, who hails from Anambra State, told us that Youth Agenda is always geared towards good Governance and it is a very Ugly narrative. Mr. Linus stated that financially in Nigerian politics, the youths are not ready, but potentially the youths are showing signs.
He said that age is not a function of good leadership and also politics needs good mentorship just as in concluding his speech, he told us that the youth want the best government policies that will provide them the opportunity to be self dependent and this will in turn make Nigeria a home for all.
The research assistant then felt the need to get the heartbeat of youngsters engaged in small and medium scale enterprises including traders. She then interviewed Mr. Ugboaja Frank, A business man from Abia State who without mincing words told us firmly that the Nigerian youths have no agenda come 2019 presidential election because they have different mindsets and different goals.
Mr. Frank stated clearly that the nation can’t be made a home for all because it has been hijacked by cabals. To this disenchanted Nigerian citizen, until the nation eradicates and respects the rule of law that is when the youths will exercise their strength in politics because as it stands now the youths can’t command such power.
Mr. Frank went ahead to say that some young people are coming out for 2019 presidency but just few youths are strongly supporting them simply because many of the youths have chosen to campaign and sing praises for the old minds for pecuniary gains.
In conclusion he said that the youths are yet to see the corridors of power in Nigeria, so they shouldn’t expect anything as regards to making Nigeria a home for all.
These youngsters interviewed forgot to charge the Presidential candidates to try and convince the majority of youngsters in the South East of Nigeria to dissociate themselves from the retrogressive advocacy campaigns by members of the indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) asking them to boycott the coming election unless the central government gives a date for national referendum to determine the future of the Country. Any campaign for election boycott in any part of Nigeria is totally evil and will undermine any youth friendly agenda.
Having heard from the young people, you will come to find out that they have different opinions as regards to the forthcoming 2019 election and the post 2019 Presidency.
Most of them felt that the youths are not ready to take up the mantle of leadership, while some are of strong belief that the youths are going to make it come 2019.
This surely is a rich and well thought out views of what some Nigerian youth consider as a youth agenda for whomsoever emerges as the President of Nigeria in 2019.
What one can decipher from their opinions is that the President that Nigeria wants in 2019 must focus on these items of development- quality healthcare; functional educational sector; sound infrastructures and job creations.
In the coming days therefore, most young persons in Nigeria numbering over 50 million active citizens will be monitoring the campaigns to determine the best person with the best and most workable youth agenda.
The two main candidates of APC and PDP would have to look behind them always and to surround themselves with young Nigerians with talents who would help them fashion out the most attractive agendum for youth and sustainable development. This is moreso urgent and imperative given that amongst the other Presidential candidates, there are many highly educated, urbane, exposed and talented youth who are willing and ready to dethrone the old political order and take over the mantle of political leadership. Kingsley Moghalu yhe former deputy governor of Central bank of Nigeria is a young and all round educated youth who has vigourously campaigned to be elected in February as Nigeria’s next president. The publisher of Saharareporters Mr Sowore is very young but he is battlingto be heard. Campaigns in Nigeria for the office of Presidency is a multibillion dollar project which most of these youngsters running for that office can’t possibly mobilise. Even the incumbent President through his campaign office was making jokes that the Peoples Democratic party’s presidential candidate is too broke to match the All Progressives Congress in the campaign season that has only just kicked off today. Peoples Democratic party on their own part accused the President of sending the partisan Economic and Financial Crimes commission led by acting chairman Ibrahim Magu to confiscate bank accounts of identified supporters of its presidential candidate. From these verbal exchanges between the two main parties, what has become manifests is that campaign for Presidency of Nigeria is way beyond the funding or financial capacities of any of these young persons seeking for the office of the Presidency of Nigeria in the forthcoming election. This is why we are focused on highlighting the youth agenda that must be adopted by the two most strategic presidential candidates of the APC and PDP.
In the light of the above perspective, it is safe to conclude that only a candidate with the most transparently workable youth agendum will carry the day in the coming elections whose outcomes would be determined by and large based on the participation in the voting exercise by the youth of Nigeria. That is if the independent National electoral commission headed by the controversial mahmood Yakubu, the kinsman of the incumbent Presidentand candidate of APC would organise a credible, free, fair, peaceful and transpatent election come February 2019. The die is cast!