Samuel Awoyinfa, Abeokuta
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says unless Nigerian youths come out to contest elective positions, old generation politicians will not quit the stage for them.
The former president spoke on Saturday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, at the Youth Governance Dialogue organised to mark International Youth Day 2017.
The programme was organised by Youth Development Centre of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
Obasanjo, however, was quick to add that the youth who would occupy leadership positions in the country must have carved a niche for themselves through hard work.
Obasanjo, who warned that leadership is not just for the asking, said youths have to work for it.
The former president who noted that moral values have been eroded in the society when compared to what obtained in the ’50s and the ’60s, said those moral values were required for leadership position.
He said Nigeria was in need of leaders who are academically and spiritually sound, urging the youths to get prepared to occupy elective offices, as there were moves to lower the age retirements for election into elective positions such as that of the president, governor, and National Assembly.
He appealed to them to stop complaining and moaning.
Obasanjo said, “I joined politics from the top. The only position I contested for in Nigeria is the Presidency, but I had a track record of achievements, which led to that.
“Nobody will choose you; you have to choose yourself. Why should you have to become president at the age of 40? Why can’t you become president at the age of 35? Why can’t you become president at the age of 30?
“General Gowon became Head of State at 33. I became Head of State at 39. And it is because of my track record, and thanks to (late Gen. Sani) Abacha) for putting me in jail.
“Those were the reasons why I have opportunity to come back as elected president of Nigeria.
“The point is this: how prepared are you? Are you really prepared?”
The former President also spoke about unity and integration, urging Nigerians to see themselves as one family instead of pursuing things that could divide the country.
He also called on Nigerian youths to be united, and to alsocontribute to the development of their fatherland.
The former Attoney-General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi (SAN), who spoke on the roles of youth in peace and stability of a nation, urged Nigerian youths not to allow artificial boundaries to split them.
Rather, he counselled, they should work more on things that would unite them as a people.
He said, “If Obasanjo can make it, you can also make it. He joined the army and survived. When he was sent to prison, he survived. He was sentenced to death but here he is.”
The chairman of the occasion, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN), urged Nigerian youths to eschew violence, and “to remain resolute and committed to Nigeria’s development.”