On behalf of the Leadership of the Not Too Young to Run Campaign in Rivers State, we congratulate you on your victory at the 2019 Rivers State Governorship Election and your subsequent swearing in as Executive Governor of Rivers State for a second term.
We believe your re-election will afford you the opportunity to continue to implement your blue print to develop our dear state. We have resorted to write openly to ensure that our message gets to you due to the urgency of the subject matter. For the first time in Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, young people between the ages of 25-30 are legally empowered to contest for the seats in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly as a result of the Not Too Young To Run (age reduction) law.
As the foremost group advocating the inclusion and active participation of capable youths in government, we acknowledge and appreciate your efforts during your first tenure in positioning some young persons into strategic appointive and elective positions across the state. We are also glad that a number of them discharged their duties excellently.
We however, believe that this partnership with youths can and should get better this second term. This is why we are appealing that you consider an even increased allocation of viable positions for youths, if anything from among your teeming youth supporters. We believe our appeal is coming at the appropriate time as you are yet to forward the names of Commissioner Nominees to the legislature.
We acknowledge with all humility that it you reserve the discretion to appoint anyone into your cabinet as a commissioner, notwithstanding we are quite convinced that an improved youth presence would guarantee the much needed energy and speed to drive the NEW agenda in Rivers State.
Considering the political climate we operate in this part of the globe, we are tempted to define clearly the age bracket we REFER to as YOUTHS in this open letter.
Whilst the United Nations defines ‘YOUTHS’, as persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years, we are constrained by environmental and economic realities of the nation, to restrict our definition to the Nigerian National Youth Policy which defines youth as anyone between the age of 15 and 29. We believe this is a more realistic and acceptable definition within the Nigerian context.
There is a growing global acceptance and consensus that young people can perform if they are allowed to; we have also noticed local acceptance of this global proposition that young people can truly make the difference in governance as key active players if given the opportunity. From time immemorial, the position and role of the Nigerian youth in the socio-economic and political development of our country has been that of a prime mover.
This has been so because, youths constitute the crust of the future generation and are perceived as vital instrument in repositioning the nation’s economy. Even though the patriotic commitment of nation building is the responsibility of all citizens, the youths who are more energetic and purpose –driven always stand at the center stage. If properly channeled and fully exploited, the innate potentials of the youths can be transformed as a means of development for our dear state.
In Nigeria, Youths have been playing prominent roles in nation building from time immemorial. In the 60s and up to the 70s, the youth were at the very center of governance in the country. At age 19, late Ambassador M.T. Mbu was Nigeria’s High Commissioner to UK and he was Minister of Navy at 20 plus. At his early 30s, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was already in his bloom in the Western Region and he was leader of Government in the West before 40: ditto the late Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ladoke Akintola. The likes of Gowon, Murtala Muhammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, were Heads of State in their 30s. Their likes populated the civil service as super permanent secretaries while the Military Governors were in their 20s and early 30s.
At 24, Alfred Diete Spiff was appointed Military Administrator of our dear Rivers State (former Rivers and Bayelsa States), where he led the state to unmatched prosperity and unrivaled infrastructure development. The deduction from the foregoing is that the importance of the youth in nation building cannot be overemphasized as a state.
Interestingly, some states within the federation have resorted back to drawing from the pool of untapped youth resources in their various states. Worthy of mention is the recent nomination of a 27 years old Mr. Seun Fakorede by HE. Gov. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde ( Executive Governor of Oyo State) as a Commissioner Designate in that State. Youths have emerged Speakers and principal officers in some other states.
This is a laudable feat and particularly one that is worthy of emulation in our dear Rivers State considering the volume of sound intellectual youthful technocrats we have in abundance. The appointment of youths into your Executive Cabinet as Commissioners will create an avenue for young minds and [fresh] ideas to be explored as they are vibrant, energetic and full of innovative ideas. It will also serve as a remarkable model and lesson for misguided youths to denounce violence and pursue more creative ventures that could earn them recognition and a place in governance someday.
We are hopeful that you did consider this humble appeal for inclusion of youths in your Executive Cabinet as Commissioners. We wish you a much more fruitful second tenure.
Rivers State Coordinator, #NotTooYoungToRun on behalf of the Movement.