All over the world, youth constitutes the majority including Nigeria. Despite accounting for more than 70 percent of the Nigeria’s population, youth are so far generally greatly under-represented in political and bureaucratic posts. In Nasarawa state, youths constitutes more than 70 percent of the population. Under the present administration of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura, it’s a known fact that youth are greatly marginalized in political and bureaucratic life of the state. Since his inception in 2011, his appointments have been unfavourable to the youth.
Only few were given political appointments which can be best described as “petty-appointments”. Towards the end of his first term, he appointed some youth as mere Special Assistants and Personal Assistants particularly those who were prevailed upon not to contest for Chairmanship positions in their respective LGs in the 2014 LG elections.
But what were the functions of the many SAs and PAs? While some of them do not have access to their Principal and not accessible to other youths, some were virtually idle in their posts without portfolios and offices.
The situation could be said to the worst in his second term as his recent appointments of Honourable Commissioners and Special Advisers indicates his non-readiness to involve the youth in the political and economic affairs of the state. Yet, youth were actively involved in the rigorous politicking and processes that brought him back for second term. Painful enough, the Ministry of youths that’s saddled with the responsibilities of co-ordinating and formulating youth policies and programmes, is currently headed by a grandfather who is over 60 years old. (With due respect to the occupier of the office).
How effective would he manages the ministry? How accessible would he be to the youths? Does he have the mental, physical and psychological prowess to stand the numerous challenges and pressure of the youth? These and many more questions are begging for Al-makura’s answer. Politics should not be involved in the appointment of a Honourable Commissioner for youth. It should not be based on political compensation. In a state like Nasarawa where there are numbers of educated, skillful, capable and vibrant intelligent youth, the Ministry should have been headed by one of them who will be more accessible and committed in projecting the affairs of the youth.
Democracy is about mass participation and representative leadership. Not only is the low participation and representation of youth in the political/public sphere undemocratic, it also undermines the challenges of sustainable development. Unfortunately, despite the fact that youth participation and representation are critical for the consolidation of democracy, the perception that democracy would automatically boost youth equality in political participation has not been validated after the state’s 15 years of democracy.
A truly democratic government that recognized youth vibrancy, exuberance, skills and intellectual capacity should have at least 60 percent of youth in power and decision-making. The non-inclusion of youth in the appointments so far made by Al-makura would hamper the state’s democracy. This exclusion of youth, if not immediately checked, may lead to a situation where the generality of Nasarawa state youth will regard themselves as outsiders in Al-makura’s administration. This deliberate policy of ignoring the aspirations of Nasarawa state youth for representation through this outright negligence or non-recognition in the scheme of things will not help the growth and sustenance of the state’s democratic project.
There are two angles to youth empowerment, (a) the number (b) impact of youth in decision-making positions, which are mutually reinforcing. Both number and impact are important because if youth do not form a critical mass of public servants, they cannot create any reasonable impact. The impact of youth government officials on the life of youths is most needed and important, and this is where former Special Assistant on Youth Empowerment, Murtala Adogi Mohammed and former Commissioner of Youth/Sports, Daniel Ogah Ogazi becomes reference personalities. They were the “Brains” behind the establishment of the “White, Yellow and Red Boys” known as Nasarawa Youths Empowerment Scheme (NAYES). Murtala Adogi Mohammed was the Co-ordinator of the scheme while Daniel Ogah Ogazi was the Chairman of the scheme. Today, the brilliant initiative by these gentlemen had improved the lives of many youth in the state and helped reduced youth restiveness.
It is abysmal and foolhardy for anybody to believe that governance can be successful in a democratic setting like Nasarawa state, without the inclusion of a critical segment of its population. The value of having youth contributes their experiences, their ideas and their skills in improving the lives of millions must be recognized.
To this end, there is the urgent need for Al-makura to review his policies and programmes and incorporate the youth in the running of the state’s political and economic affairs by appointing them into reasonable and meaningful political offices to enable them contribute their quota. If Al-makura’s maiden speech ” I Will not leave any stone unturned” is anything to go by, I am still hopeful that the youth will not be further neglected in his political and bureaucratic appointments.
Aluta continua, victoria ascerta.