Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday backed constitutional amendment to give room for youths to contest political offices.
Obasanjo, however, warned politicians against using Nigerian youths as thugs, while keeping their children in “save havens.”
He submitted that Nigerian youth are capable of taking the country to the promised land if allowed to take charge of leadership in the country.
A statement on Wednesday in Abeokuta by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi quoted the former President to have said this while delivering a paper titled, ‘Demystifying leadership capacity deficit of African youth: Our future is in their hands,’ held at the Inauguration Edition of King’s College, London Global Leaders Engagement Series in London.
Obasanjo identified lack of economic opportunity, inclusion and adoption of policies on education, skill acquisition, empowerment and employment as some of the obstacles hindering youths of Africa from playing active roles in leadership, development and peace building.
He said despite challenges, he was hopeful that Africa and indeed Nigeria have youths who possess “intellectual prowess and ingenuity capable of leading Africa to the promised land.”
He said, “Enough of using other people’s children as experimental subjects and keeping ours in safe havens. Enough of using other people’s children as political thugs and ballot box snuffers, while we send ours to Ivy League schools.
“Enough of thinking we know what is right for young people without their input or the courtesy of asking for their opinions.
“If constitutional changes are required, let us begin now. If policies and political party structures have to change, let us begin now. Of what use is a law that allows young people contest a particular office only to be confronted with the hurdle of outrageously exorbitant cost of party nomination forms and campaign costs?
“I see hope that the future of Africa is in the hands of its youths. I see hope of a continent where the creative energies, intellectual prowess and ingenuity of our youths are capable to lead us to our promised land. I see hope in the courage of our youths to hold government accountable and their resistance to tyranny and despotism.”