The experiences of young Nigerians with regards to the pursuit of any set goal or objective they passionately crave for may not differ with respect to how they are being treated by the older generation, and this is a common phenomenon no matter the part of the country they find themselves.
Nature as we know never allows a vacuum and therefore the need to readily fill any available space in it cannot be overemphasized.
However this indicates that there must always be a point when the former must give way to the latter or better put in the words of ‘Young Parliamentarians Forum of Nigeria’ the older giving space for the younger.
This was the essence of the gathering of young parliamentarians across the country led by Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe from Mbaise, Imo State and the President Young Parliamentary Forum African Representative.
This body of young legislators came together out of the commitment to enhance greater participation of young people in democracy, governance and leadership at all levels in the society.
One of the major issues that was discussed at the one day conference was to look into a downward review of the eligibility age for young people to participate in politics without a corresponding economic empowerment to enable them obtain nomination forms, talk less of competing favorably with their established older counterpart with very strong resources.
This was the specific experience of one of the few young parliamentarians who was in attendance Hon. Akinjo Kolade Victor from Ondo state who was thrown into a political conundrum because he was seen as too young to vie for an ambitious position which he later fought persistently to get after 8 hard years.
According to Hon. Akinjo while delivering a final remark and charge to his younger contemporaries, he had gone to his people and told them that it is possible to represent them at the level of the parliament despite his young age having served at the very highest level as a Special Adviser to former president Olusegun Obasanjo, but he never got an support from his then principal.
In his words, “My political journey is one that I will like to share with millions of young Nigerians who are ambitious but are out there thinking that all hope is lost.
In fact it started during my time as a former President of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Students’ Union where I cut my political teeth at that point I had the opportunity of interfacing with former president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and then he appointed me as his Personal Assistant (P.A) and then subsequently to Special Adviser on youth and Student’s to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, of course it was an opportunity to serve the youth and young people of Nigeria which I did to the best of my ability and this is in fact for the records the first platform for the voice of the Nigerian youths to be heard at the highest level of democratic governance.
“However when we were exiting the system in 2007 my intention was to come to the House of Representatives at that time when I would have just been about 34/35 years.
“I had told him (Obasanjo) and I discussed this with him as my principal then and I went home to campaign and in the process spent all I had at that time but surprisingly I looked back and found out that there was no help coming from anywhere and that was how I was sent into political oblivion and obscurity for the next 7/8 years.
“That singular action forced me into political sabbatical and so because of my political ambition as a youth I was never given that chance.
“But I went back home to interact and study the real needs of my people, admiring their rich culture and historical challenges and it was at that time that Governor Olusegun Mimiko a.k.a Iroko discovered me as he saw something in this young man who was abandoned long time ago because of his ambition.
“So the reality of this issue is that no one will give you a space whether it is in politics or business because in fact there isn’t space anywhere.
“You have to fight to create the space for yourself.
“And when you find yourself in any cue according to the doctrine and philosophy of Hon. Lausun the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, you must remain vigilant to take the best out of the opportunity, because the opportunity will come.
“It will be like a flash our eyes must be open because no one will give you power save you fight to get it and of course politics is a contest for the very limited political social space that is available.
“So you must be equipped with the right education, skills, and moral virtues necessary to take advantage of it when the time comes.”
By Uchechukwu Ugboaja