2023: Nigerian youths seek higher engagements in politics
Eme Offiong, Calabar
Under the aegis of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Youth Lobby Group, Nigerian youths have expressed the readiness to assume higher political offices as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections.
The youths made their intention known for more leadership positions when they organised and mobilised a mammoth crowd of young Nigerians, who converged on the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar for the first-ever Cross River APC Youth Summit.
The summit, which was fun packed with comedy, cultural and musical displays, attracted the attendance of Governor Ben Ayade and his deputy, Professor Ivara Esu and a cross-section of elder statesmen.
In a brief remark, the APC National Youth Leader, Ismaeel Ahmed, said that his visit to the Cross River was in recognition of the opportunities Governor Ben Ayade has given to thousands of young people in Cross River to participate in governance and politics.
Ahmed disclosed that the movement for the greater participation of young people in governance commenced last year at the progressives youth conference to create the lobby group.
While congratulating the governor, he said, “congratulations for already walking the talk. We respect and appreciate you. Wherever we go, join us because you have shown the determination to work with young people.
“Wherever we are not, especially when the governors have closed-door meetings, we need you to be our voice. Let us go for every position in the coming national convention; let us go for every position in the next general elections. The future that belongs to the young people must lead this country.”
Generational power shift
In a goodwill message, the APC State Chairman, Mr Alphonsus Eba, described the summit as an opportunity for the Cross River youths to celebrate the governor’s achievements as the foremost youth-friendly governor in Nigeria.
Eba stated, “it was on this ground that I made a prophetic statement of a generational shift of power. Today, in their thousands, the youths of Cross River State have gathered again to say ‘thank you.’ They have not come to lobby you; they are passing a message to the President that they are ready to take the governance of this state.”
Similarly, young people such as the Commissioners for Health, Dr Betta Edu and her Finance counterpart, Asuquo Ekpenyong, and the Chairman, Coalition of APC Support Group, Iso Edim, lauded the governor for engaging thousands of youths in politics and governance.
Edu said, “the youths of Cross River State are continuing a movement that has begun in Nigeria; a movement for the emancipation of young people; a movement for the empowerment of young people. We have come out to say ‘thank you’ governor Ayade for leading by example.”
Mr Ekpenyong, who compared the desire for higher political engagement to an athletic relay race requiring focused, determined and steady speed and strength, stated, “in the stadium, today, are youths, who thank you, and are ready and willing to be part of governance and politics. The die is cast, the stage is set, and the future is now.”
The Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee, Oden Ewa, asserted, “youth participation in politics and governance is essential for a healthy and stable democracy. In recognition of this, the United Nations and various youth movements are advocating increased youth involvement in politics.”
According to Ewa, the mega summit was symbolic of the avowed readiness of youths to take their destiny in their hands and to “appreciate and celebrate Governor Ayade for his unprecedented engagements of youths in the state.”