Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has challenged Nigerian youths to become more active in politics as evidence from voter turnout during elections shows that a vast number of young people do not register or vote.
Mr Osinbajo said the few who are interested in governance have constrained themselves to agitations on social media or forming pressure groups to criticise government.
He said while those activities are not bad, they could not bring youths into a position where they can positively influence how the government operate.
“It is evident just from voter-turnout alone that the vast majority of young people either does not register to vote or do not vote.
“Those who even participate at all would rather engage within the very constrained space of social media platforms or join pressure groups.
“Neither of these is necessarily bad, but while media engagements and pressure groups may draw attention to the issues, they do not transform the lives of millions for good or ill,” the vice president said.
Mr Osinbajo made these remarks at the maiden Progressive Youth Conference, organised by All Progressives Congress Youth wing, where he was a guest speaker on Monday in Abuja, his spokesman Laolu Akande said.
More political participation by the majority of Nigeria’s youths will, more importantly, help them to contribute to making meaningful changes, the vice president said.
“So, if you are keen on how the future will turn out, you must be involved in politics.
“Growing up, I was also in a number of pressure groups, concerned with corruption, human rights and democracy.’’
Mr Osinbajo said that he wrote papers and argued at conferences but it was only in 1999 when the AD won elections in Lagos that he was able to serve as Attorney-General.
The vice president said that it is crucial for young Nigerians, with like minds already involved in politics, to influence others to also participate.
“While you all must be commended for joining and remaining a part of a political party, the major numerical force in our society, which you represent, is not engaged as yet.
“You have a duty to persuade, evangelise and recruit them.
“Politics is about service to the people, but at the heart of that is that it is about ideas, and, of course, numbers.
“Movements of every kind are activated around ideas, and numbers; the larger the number of those persuaded by an idea, the stronger the movement.
“So being involved and getting others involved is crucial; the task then is to aggregate the majority of the party around your preferred point of view.
“That has to be done by standing firm on sound principles, but also being ready to give-and-take on methodology for achieving shared objectives and common causes.”
He added that young people had the numbers to run with bright ideas that could cause major positive disruption in politics, as there had been in other sectors like businesses, commerce and education.
Mr Osinbajo urged all Nigerians, young and old, to work for and project the unity of Nigeria, and avoid stoking the embers of divisions.
According to the vice president, those waiting on the sidelines, hoping that Nigeria will disintegrate will be very sorely disappointed.
“I’m very sure those of you sitting here today will prevent that from happening.
“This country can take all of us, regardless of tribe, religion, gender or age, and I want to urge you to continually seek ways of making this union fairer and more just for the benefit of all,” he said.
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