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‘THE BUHARI IN US’: Gov. Bello Describes Nigerian Youths As Change Maker

‘THE BUHARI IN US’: Gov. Bello Describes Nigerian Youths As Change Maker
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The capacity of the Nigerian youth to be the change maker the country needs has once again been reiterated.

 

‘THE BUHARI IN US’: Gov. Bello Describes Nigerian Youths As Change Maker

Gov. YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE, REPRESENTED BY HIS DEPUTY, CHIEF DR EDWARD ONOJA, MADE THE DISCLOSURE AT THE LAUNCH OF THE BOOK, ‘THE BUHARI IN US’ AT THE NIGERIAN ARMY RESOURCE CENTRE, ABUJA.

Gov. Bello explained that all around the world Nigerian youths are making names for themselves and leading the global quest for a greater future in many fields, expressed optimism that same success story can be replicated at home irrespective of the shortcomings of the system.

He however notes that for Nigerian youth to be part of the process of governance, there is one cardinal criterion they must possess, irrespective of age, gender, religious beliefs or political inclinations.

Gov. Bello charged young men and women in Nigeria that it is a must for them to have a “cause” urged them to seek for something that will define what they stand for.

According to Gov. Bello, ” It is said that if you do not stand for something you will fall for anything. What do we stand for?

What are the causes that define our existence, first as individuals, then as a people, a community and a nation?

“For me, the greatest cause, and the most urgent now, if Nigeria is not to suffer shipwreck in the days ahead, is three-fold”.

Gov. Bello maintained that the Nigerian youth is still the last hope and the future of the Nigerian nation pointing out that it is time for the generations born after the Civil War to do more than sloganeering and pamphleteering if they want to arrest the slide in the fortunes of the Nigerian nation.

He explained that advocacy by the youth is good but advocacy must be energized with an endgame that delivers the expected results, called for action by the youth, urged them to do more, actively, to achieve commanding heights in the leadership of the country.

In the words of Gov. Bello, ” Using myself as a point of reference, let me say I would probably not be here today as the Kogi State Governor if I had not taken the bull by the horns almost six years ago when I threw my hat into the Kogi governorship race.

” I owe everything to the grace of Almighty God and the belief in myself that I could do it. If I can, and I am now doing it, then nothing stops you from doing it, too.

” However, doing it is very different from, and much harder than, talking about doing it. A vast majority of the young ones are yet to even define their role in nation-building, much less taking action in that direction. And yet we have many roles to play in the next dispensation of this nation, a lot of them complex.

” Despite the complexity, getting started is the hardest for many a youth. If you can take that first step, the rest come in succession.

” The first step to leadership and governance is of course followership. Politics is perhaps the most consuming and thankless career ever and apart from the supremely connected or fortunate, most people will have to start at the grassroots.

” Every leader was first a follower at one point or the other and every follower in the present, can be a leader in the future! I advise every youth interested in leadership and governance to start following current leaders he plans to end up like now.

” We have come a long way as a nation, now is not the time to look back at our mistakes, but to look at the opportunities around and ahead. This is the time to start what will trigger a sequence of events that can birth a better future for our dear country. We can have a future in which peace is rooted in justice, where wealth is a product of hard work and creativity, where equality before the law is a given. I am convinced that we will have such a country in spite of the nation’s multipolar heterogeneity. I am an advocate of cooperation and integration because it is the easiest way to root the inclusiveness which we need to get everyone pulling together in the same direction so that we can accomplish the manifest

 

there has never been a time in the annals of this nation that young men and women have not been involved in governance.

 

Below is the full speech of Gov. Bello at the book launch.

 

KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, GOVERNOR YAHAYA BELLO OF KOGI STATE, REPRESENTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, CHIEF DR EDWARD ONOJA, DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF KOGI STATE AT THE LAUNCH OF THE BOOK, ‘THE BUHARI IN US’ AT THE NIGERIAN ARMY RESOURCE CENTRE, ABUJA ON TUESDAY 22ND JUNE, 2021

Protocols

I welcome our esteemed guests to this deeply significant event. His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a living enigma whose place in history will be intensely debated by posterity long after he has left the stage of active politics and statesmanship. It is therefore welcome and significant when another chronicle of his life and times is penned, irrespective of the author’s editorial persuasions. More so, when the work is a carefully catalogued chronicle of contemporary accounts put together by one who is an unabashed follower of Mr. President’s.

I have had the pleasure of mentoring throngs of young Nigerians who are passionate about The President and who are as determined as I am to memorialise his Person, Philosophy and Legacy – as much to set the records straight about this extraordinary man as to lay out his examples as guides for posterity.

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One of them, Abdullahi O Haruna who gives me the double pleasure of being a Kogite in addition to being a young creative, has written the book entitled ‘The Buhari In Us’, the public presentation of which we are here gathered. I will say more about the insightful book later but for now let us take a brief but critical look at The Roles of the Nigerian Youth in Policy formulation, Governance and Leadership.

On May 29th, 2021 we recorded 22 years of uninterrupted democracy in our country, Nigeria. In essence, for the last 22 years, we have been free to make our choices as a nation and commit to them on our own terms without compulsion from the military or other non-democratic forces. In order words, we must now own our successes or failures in those years as strictly ours, of our own making – and not foisted on us by other actors, whether benign or hostile.

For the last 6 of those 22 years, the buck has stopped at President Muhammadu Buhari’s table and it will be his responsibility to account for those years. In demanding for such accountability however, we must always bear in mind that it is the peculiar case of mortals to be on a perpetual quest for fulfilment. As such, Nigeria may not have arrived at destination as a nation, but there is no denying the fact that we are making some progress.

May I remind my audience that our Independence from colonial rule was gifted to us by the labours of our heroes past who began the struggle to unyoke the nation from British suzerainty as young persons. As a young, and newly independent nation, Mr. President and his generation were mere youths when they began serving in the trenches, and later on in government, to interpret their understanding of Nigerian nationhood to reality. By the force of their example, we, the young and not-so-young today have no excuse for apathy or non-involvement.

These forebears of the Nigerian nation, from all tribes, and of all tongues and religions, laid the foundation upon which our country is built today. We remember their sacrifices and salute their courage, energy and sagacity.

My point so far, among others, is that young people have always played frontal roles in policy formulation and implementation in Nigeria. In fact, I am going to go as far as claiming that there has never been a time in the annals of this nation that young men and women have not been involved in governance.

From the first republic, through the sundry military interregna into this present 4th Republic, the Nigerian youth has always been involved at one layer or the other of governance and leadership. While the youth may not have held the levers of ultimate power, except for notable exceptions during the military era, they certainly have bestrode the corridors of power and we must therefore acknowledge that to larger or lesser extents, the younger generation is accessory in whatever is great or wrong with the nation today.

Be that as it may, we cannot move forward looking back. It is thus pertinent to reiterate that the Nigerian youth is still the last hope and the future of the Nigerian nation. It is time for the generations born after the Civil War to do more than sloganeering and pamphleteering if they want to arrest the slide in the fortunes of the Nigerian nation. Advocacy is good but advocacy must be energized with an endgame that delivers the expected results. This calls for action. We must do more, actively, to achieve commanding heights in the leadership of this country.

Using myself as a point of reference, let me say I would probably not be here today as the Kogi State Governor if I had not taken the bull by the horns almost six years ago when I threw my hat into the Kogi governorship race. I owe everything to the grace of Almighty God and the belief in myself that I could do it. If I can, and I am now doing it, then nothing stops you from doing it, too.

However, doing it is very different from, and much harder than, talking about doing it. A vast majority of the young ones are yet to even define their role in nation-building, much less taking action in that direction. And yet we have many roles to play in the next dispensation of this nation, a lot of them complex.

Despite the complexity, getting started is the hardest for many a youth. If you can take that first step, the rest come in succession. The first step to leadership and governance is of course followership. Politics is perhaps the most consuming and thankless career ever and apart from the supremely connected or fortunate, most people will have to start at the grassroots. Every leader was first a follower at one point or the other and every follower in the present, can be a leader in the future! I advise every youth interested in leadership and governance to start following current leaders he plans to end up like now.

We have come a long way as a nation, now is not the time to look back at our mistakes, but to look at the opportunities around and ahead. This is the time to start what will trigger a sequence of events that can birth a better future for our dear country. We can have a future in which peace is rooted in justice, where wealth is a product of hard work and creativity, where equality before the law is a given. I am convinced that we will have such a country in spite of the nation’s multipolar heterogeneity. I am an advocate of cooperation and integration because it is the easiest way to root the inclusiveness which we need to get everyone pulling together in the same direction so that we can accomplish the manifest destiny of this nation called Nigeria.

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The capacity of the Nigerian youth to be the changemaker their country needs is not in doubt. All around the world we have Nigerian youths making names for themselves and leading the global quest for a greater future in many fields. I believe we can replicate that story at home irrespective of the shortcomings of the system.

For our youth to be part of the process of governance, there is one cardinal criterion they must possess. Irrespective of age, gender, religious beliefs or political inclinations our young men and women must have a “cause”. Something that will define what they stand for. It is said that if you do not stand for something you will fall for anything. What do we stand for? What are the causes that define our existence, first as individuals, then as a people, a community and a nation?

For me, the greatest cause, and the most urgent now, if Nigeria is not to suffer shipwreck in the days ahead, is three-fold.

One, to secure this country and rid her of all criminal actors involved in terrorism, banditry and kidnapping which lead to tragic loss of lives everyday.

Two, to unite the nation and dismantle the divisive sentiments and actions which pit one citizen against citizen and region against region.

Three, to institutionalise peace. As it is said, if you want peace, prepare for war. The peace of Nigerians and Nigeria itself has for long been in the realms of happenstance. We must now make it a matter of law and national security that certain actions are unacceptable in the civic space in so far as they engender violence and social chaos.

In the final analysis, cooperation and integration which I have mentioned before must become the guiding light, watchword and directive principle of state policy and actions in Nigeria for achieving the foregoing 3 imperatives. They must become our cause célèbre and raison d’etre as progressive youths who love the country and want her growth and development above all else. Anything that derogates from these ideals must be disallowed as vehemently as possible.

I now point out a few of the pervasive practices in Nigerian society which we must get rid of immediately to achieve the levels of cooperation and integration which we need to chart a New Direction that is far removed from the dire outlooks facing us between now and 2023.

In 2015, while running for Governor of Kogi State I discovered afresh that society can and does set up citizens to fail by default. All it has to do is simply say, ‘you are not in the category of those who may aspire to certain offices or outcomes’. After that it is a simple matter to implement them by practices which I call principles of exclusion.

These principles that exclude people usually arise from naturally occurring social phenomena, for example, an imbalance in population numbers. Over time, if left unchecked by leadership, they become embedded in the very structures of a democracy, including the Constitution itself.

In Nigeria, gender, age, ability, tribe, religion and class are a few of the natural phenomena which have gradually become the legs on which marginalisation and discrimination stand. The result is a general disenchantment with governance across the land.

For instance, a girl-child learns early from society, her own parents included, that she is somehow inferior because of her gender. Over her lifetime, in the family, classroom and workplace she is confronted with blatant or subtle discrimination which try to instill in her the mindset that her male counterparts are preferable to her, that she is not expected to compete with them and should therefore not try.

Another example: Nigerian youths face a plethora of challenges but the most damaging is systemic ageism which tries to exclude them from leadership and governance. This has made the popular aphorism, ‘The Youth Are The Leaders Of Tomorrow’ to stop being the clarion call to youthful aspiration and preparation which it was originally intended to be. Instead, it has transmuted into a warning for the youth to desist from trying to become leaders until an unspecified tomorrow which never comes.

Effectively therefore, the average youth in Nigeria has been conditioned to believe that positions of high trust or leadership are off-limits to him or her. This has created social patterns which reinforce juvenile conduct in young people and discourage them from aiming high enough, even well into their 30s and 40s. Those like me who try to challenge this status quo are often treated as upstarts and outcasts. Moreso, if we commit the cardinal political sin in Nigeria, that is, failure to have godfathers or refusal to bow to vested interests.

Another common practice is the institutionalised exclusion of Persons With Special Needs. As if their natural setbacks are not hard enough, these courageous individuals, both male and female, find themselves subject to more disadvantages in a society which is yet to mainstream basic conveniences for them in public and private spaces. The lack of a limb or weakness of a limb in a person is often equated with the lack of a brain by ignorant people who are found in all Nigerian societies. Our PWSNs are often ignored, diminished or otherwise treated as if they have no feelings. And if they are autistic or have mental health issues, Nigerian society tends to behave in ways which deny the individual his or her humanity and dignity. I speak as the father of a wonderful son who is on the autistic spectrum. I see his many struggles despite the protective structures my wealth and power has built around him and I am not in any doubt that persons like him who do not have the same privileges are living in a hell of prejudice perpetrated by our society.

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Finally, tribe, religion and class are so familiar and pervasive as tools for marginalisation and discrimination in Nigeria that I do not really need to speak at length on them. While their intensity and extent may vary from group to group and from individual to individual in society, suffice it to say that all of us have felt their wicked influence from as far back as we can remember. In every instance, the effect has been to reduce the victim’s ability to maximise their God-given potential within the society in which they live.

Marginalisation and discrimination places victims at a fundamental disadvantage because they breed hopelessness. People who discover that there is a glass ceiling over their head due to the circumstances of their birth, like place of origin, language and religion tend not to put in their best effort. It is a sledgehammer which smashes their ability to aspire without limits. Such people also become angry with society making them easy recruits for violent or even extremist ideologies as we see in sections of our country today.

However, in discussing marginalisation or discrimination, we must always be careful to not conflate issues. No society is perfect so there will always be problems, even injustice. Still, not all injustice is discrimination or marginalisation. Sometimes people just fall through the cracks in society and with a little bit of help from others and a lot of willing effort on their own part, they can be helped to re-assume the place of value which is uniquely theirs in the nation. For instance, it is my opinion that the separatist agitations in the South East Geopolitical Zone can be resolved without balkanising the country. We just have to listen to all sides and apply a lot more empathy and equity in how our society is run.

My New Direction Agenda is premised on integration and cooperation across our historic divides and we have done spectacularly well in reducing the tribal, ethnic and religious frictions we inherited 6 years ago when we took over in Kogi State. Today, even though we still have a long way to go, we have also come a mighty long way, to the Glory of God Almighty alone.

I am passionate about making Nigerian society inclusive, resilient and functional for the benefit of every citizen. It is now time for us to break all the concrete walls and glass ceilings forcing down the heads of many in Nigeria. To achieve this we have to deliberately destroy every social construct and system which stops any citizen from aiming as high or reaching as far as any other citizen, especially in politics, business and government.

‘The Buhari In Us’ is before us today. I worked closely with the author and I have no doubt that the book is a positive addition to the growing body of literary works which will constitute the truer records of Mr President’s very remarkable Life and Leadership after now, albeit from a more philosophical, than narrative, angle.

This book is a decent bibliographical effort which will afford us and other youthful followers the insight and opportunity to celebrate a Man, a Leader and a Father whom we admire so much. It will go a long way to strengthen the position of an emergent leadership corps fertilised by and nurtured on the Muhammadu Buhari ideals of Honour, Action, Revolution and Integrity in Public Office.

I urge all and sundry to purchase their copies, to launch it generously as I know the young author has spent so much, to buy and donate the book in dozens, hundred and thousands to schools and libraries all over the nation, but above all, to read it again and again and allow their lives to be guided by the sterling examples of a man, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR who, despite how much he is misunderstood and how much uncharitable people want to define his legacy by what they consider the errors of his Presidency, remains a Nigerian patriot of the first order and a leader par excellence.

In all, Nigeria is ours. It needs the energy and blood of the youth to progress and the wisdom of the old to be stable, so that steady progress can be made.

Congratulations Haruna Abdullahi O. The musing masters.

God bless the Nigerian youth, God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
God bless President Muhammadu Buhari.

YAHAYA BELLO
Governor of Kogi State
Nigeria.

 

 


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