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    Tuesday, December 19, 2017

    Call to action: The Time to Get Involved Is Now!

    By Hon. Adedapo Lam Adesina

    Happenings around the world in recent times have revealed that positive energies that are purpose-driven and which stem from young people are the precursor of a better and safer world. 

    Youths in some countries around the world are well aware of this fact and have taken their responsibilities of nation-building seriously. However, their endeavors have not led to advancements in health, economy, education, technology, and infrastructure which are evident in countries of Europe, America, Australia, and Asia. 

    The 21st century is the "Youth Age". Still, it is imperative that youth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole wake up and take their rightful place. If there's a better time for youths of this country to take their responsibilities of nation-building seriously, that time is now! This is a call to action -- we must realize that this great country needs us. 

    We need to make our own miracles
     We have all the resources in order to drive this country to a desired destination, we have the required energy, knowledge and skills but we choose to embrace helplessness and hopelessness and wait for a "miracle" to happen. Our future is in our hands and no miracle will happen until we make it happen. 

    It's high time young Nigerian people poured their hearts and knowledge into various fields and capacities. They need to be committed to purpose-driven goals that are positive and beneficial to the country and most importantly, they should be involved in progressive politics ( e.g. electioneering and decision making process) which will propel desired growth and development in: economy, health, education, security, power and infrastructure. 
    We must be quick to acknowledge and embrace the fact that power is not served "a la carte", we must get it ourselves. 

    If a notable Nigerian political leader like Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo could work very hard to climb his way up, Nigerian youths of the 21st century should not wait for political power as "free piece meal". Late Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo determinedly worked his way up. His father was a farmer who died when he (Chief Obafemi Awolowo) was only seven years old. He attended various schools, supporting himself with farming. 

    He became a teacher in Abeokuta, after which he qualified as a shorthand typist. Later, he served as a clerk at the famous Wesley college as well as a correspondent for the Nigerian Times. He was an active journalist and trade unionist as a young man, editing The Nigerian Worker amongst other publications while also organizing the Nigerian Produce Traders Association and serving as secretary of the Nigerian Motor Transport Union. 

    After earning a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Nigeria from a London University through correspondence, as a determined, focused and goal getting Nigerian, he later decided to further his studies in the UK. To make this dream achievable, he asked for funds which he didn't get. As a strong-willed trailblazer, he later embarked on various business ventures and raised funds to travel to the UK to continue his studies. 

    He went to the UK where he earned a law degree from London School of Economics. Upon his return from the UK as a lawyer, he started his political career as a regional political leader like most of his pre-independence contemporaries. He was the first indigenous Premier of the Western Region under Nigeria's parliamentary system, from 1952 to 1960, and was the official Leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1960 to 1963. 

    In addition to all this, Awolowo was also the first individual in the modern era to be referred to as the Asiwaju of Yorubaland, a title which has come over time to be automatically ascribed to his direct successors as Grand Master of Afenifere. He is also known for founding many organizations, including Egbe Omo Oduduwa, the Trade Unions Congress of Nigeria and the Action Group political party. Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo worked very hard to have his name written in gold in the Nigeria's political history.

    My own story 
    My passion for public service fueled my strong-willed interest for politics and that led me. My first point of contact with politics was during my undergraduate days at University of Ibadan, where I had the opportunity to serve as the departmental President in the department of Agriculture and Environmental Engineering. As the president, I led a purpose-driven administration which was beneficial to students in the department. 

    I was really diligent and committed to serving the people at that level to the extent that often times I used my personal funds for projects. I was dedicated to nothing but the best for my department. However, my commitment propelled a beneficial administration for all which attracted awards at faculty and S.U.G level.

    In 2011, when I was first given the opportunity by H.E Sen. Abiola Ajimobi (the Governor of Oyo State) to serve at state level as Commissioner for Youths and Sports, reference was made on my commitment to public service when I served as departmental President. However, as Commissioner for Youths and Sports, I didn't relent in giving my best to public service. 

    During my administration in the Ministry of Youths and Sports in Oyo State, the Ministry recorded more landmark achievements within the pace of six (6) months (Aug 19th, 2011- Feb 18th, 2012). Notable among the achievements were:
    • Renovation of three (3) State owned sport stadiums to good standard;
    • Turning the soccer clubs owned by the State Government to revenue generating agencies through which the State Government generated more revenue to execute other capital projects in the state;
    • Empowerment of over one thousand (1,000) youths in the State and;
    • Resuscitation and re-branding of the Oyo State Governor's cup. A football competition among youths of the state, which fostered peace, unity and cooperation amongst the youths and generally a safe and peaceful State, just to mention a few.

    However, based on my commitment and notable achievements in the Ministry of Youths and Sports, the Governor, H.E Sen. Abiola Ajimobi transferred me to Ministry of Applied Science and Technology where I also made landmark achievements. I was given the rare opportunity of serving in two Ministries within the pace of three years (August 2011-December 2014). This simply implies that it is highly pertinent for youths to be committed to purpose-driven goals that are positive and beneficial to the people at whatever capacity we may occupy. 

    To further validate this fact, Justin Trudeau (current Prime Minister of Canada) became the Country's Prime Minister at the age of 44 in 2015. However, before he attained the highest political position in Canada, Trudeau was a teacher for several years. But as a teacher, he distinguished himself as a hard-working and exceptional youth who puts his best at everything he did. His dedication to public service as a youth and teacher paved his way for success in politics. 

    Trudeau stepped into the fray of politics in 2006 by chairing the Liberal Party's task force on youth renewal. The following year, Trudeau began his campaign for a Parliament seat representing Montreal district, winning the post in 2008. The charismatic, young Trudeau also proved to be a rising political force, becoming the Liberal Party's leader in 2013. Two years later, Trudeau sought Canada's highest office. He promised Canadian voters "real change" in his campaign, calling for tax increases for the wealthy and tax cuts for the middle class. 

    A committed environmentalist, Trudeau also stated that he would work on the country's climate change policies. Trudeau led his party to a remarkable victory in October 2015, which won the majority in Parliament, going from 36 seats to 184 seats — the largest increase in the country's history. 

    Time to wake up 
    If youths in other countries of the world assumed their positions as agents of advancement and change, youths in Nigeria must wake up to this "Millennia" responsibility too. This will undoubtedly be a precursor for us -- to take our responsibilities of nation-building seriously.  

    After serving the public at appointed capacities as Commissioner, I forged ahead in my journey of public service. In 2015, I contested and won as a Member of the Nigerian House of Representatives, representing the good people of Ibadan North East / South East of Oyo State. In the course of serving my people in this capacity, in two years, I have diligently moved Nine motions and have three bills pending which are beneficial not only to my constituents but to Nigerians at large.

    In order to take our place in the decision-making process of this country and be responsive to our responsibilities of nation-building, we must be actively involved in the political activities of our dear country. 

    The bold step taken by Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French general elections to contest as the President of the country is evident to this fact. Macron was 39 when he was elected as the President. Before the election, on 6 April, 2016 he founded his political party called En Marche! Which means “Forward!” in English. 

    After showing his interest to run as President, Macron said he wants to create a new kind of politics without party structures, although to many people, how this would be done was unclear. Still, Macron believed it was possible and he achieved it! 

    Among the policies he proposed to implement were a ‎€50bn investment plan of job training for French youths and a shift to renewable energy, infrastructure and modernisation.

    He also pledged to cut corporation tax, reduce unemployment from 9.7% to 7%, and introduce local housing tax exemptions worth €10billion. Macron describes his new party as a progressive movement aimed at uniting both left and right. It is an avowedly pro-European organisation which won an absolute majority in the national assembly following defections from other parties in France. 
    If Macron could take the bold step of participating actively in the French politics, Nigerian youths must not neglect their political responsibilities for the sake of substantive development of our country.

    Being politically active entails exercising your political/civic rights as a youth which includes:

    • Getting voters card and sensitize other youths of acquiring theirs;
    • Joining a political party that is progressive with right ideology that is healthy for the country's polity;
    • Supporting and voting for credible candidates;
    • Contesting for elective posts with the intention of making progressive impact and;
    • Supporting peaceful electioneering process that will pivot credible candidates into public offices.

    It is important to acknowledge that youths need to wake up and actively take part in political activities and decision-making processes of our dear country Nigeria in which our hope resides. 

    Hon. Adedapo Lam-Adesina, IYF Guest Contributor

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