Editor's note: Public Relations expert, Mariam Mohammed, writes on the recent speech by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, where he hopped on trending slogans resonating among Nigerian youths to pass on his message. Mohammed gives her thoughts on a speech that practically went viral and offered advice to the vice president on how the present administration can engage the average Nigerian youth.
In what has become a watering ground for ideas and forward thinking, The Platform powered by Pastor Poju Oyemade of the Covenant Christian Centre on May 1 had the theme: Get Involved: Nation Building Is The Assignment Of This Generation, had Vice President Yemi Osinbajo amongst other cerebral speakers like Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Dorotoye, both presidential aspirants in the 2019 general elections.
The import of the May conversation is that it centred on youth involvement in governance and nation-building. Pastor Oyemade, who convenes the event on a quarterly basis, set the tone on the importance of young Nigerians getting involved in governance, stressing the point of the power of the electorate in casting their votes.
For close followers of events in Nigeria, the topic could not have been better situated following the outcry, albeit misplaced, of comments made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Commonwealth of Government Meeting in London in April that most Nigerian youths wait for free meal ticket in the erroneous assumption that the country is oil-rich, therefore, indolence becomes their nature, rather than hard work and enterprise.
It is important to make the point, before underlining the eloquent delivery of Vice President Osinbajo, that those who fought for the country’s independence were basically in the prime of their lives as well as those who ruled in the early stages of the country’s leadership journey were middle aged.
The matter of youth in government is not so much as important as those who provide the energy and fulcrum on which nation-building is achieved. It is in this regard that one finds the vice president’s postulation endearing and worth interrogating.
Without a doubt, Vice President Osinbajo captured the essence of the argument when he observed that outside influences from political leadership are central to national development.
“…it is my thesis that while government’s role is in casting the vision and creating the environment for nationhood, the real building of nations is done and best seen through the efforts and accomplishments of many outside of political leadership.
“Men and women in business, agriculture, education, entertainment and the arts, who by just doing their business diligently, or serving faithfully or making sacrifices contribute to building the economies and social systems that ultimately build the nation.”
And to underscore his point, evidently it has become his appropriation, the vice president crisscrossed all fields of endeavour where Nigerian youths are etching their names on the sands of time. From business and entrepreneurship to ICT, through agriculture, healthcare advancement to the arts and literature, entertainment, sports, fashion and beauty, sports and even in public service.
It was like listening to an ensemble play any of Nigeria’s timeless classics, only that this time, it was one man painting a canvas of achievers, achievements and offering accolades.
It is easy to get lost listening to the vice president and even agreeing with him on every score, the questions still need to be asked: has this government done enough, before talking of more than enough?
Are Nigerian youths in agreement that despite the billions spent, they are finding reason to smile and keep working hard? Is there still confidence that some youths, especially in government, are delivering on their mandates? For instance, when an aide, supposedly young, takes 48 hours to make available something as rudimentary as a press statement or speech to journalists, do we say it inspires?
Mr. Vice President, sir, those of us outside government and with ears to the ground need to tell you that majority of Nigerian youths, though full of optimism, still say they are not ‘feeling government.’ They say government has shown some measure of faith, but it should go farther by creating a truly enabling environment for them to release their latent energies for national development. They say their purchasing power should be reflective in value of what they spend. They agree that government is investing in infrastructure, but they demand timelines on delivery.
Mr. Vice President, sir, they say that since we are in the season of accolades and assurance, they prefer solid assurances that bloodletting will be checkmated; power will improve; the police and other security forces will desist from arresting them simply because they carry ‘dada,’ wear saggy pants or boys plaiting their hair.
This group say I should tell you that in the creative industry the muse could be in the physical outlook and they must follow as the muse directs and play the part.
Also, Mr. Vice President, those in the arts and literature were elated as you identified their role in nation-building and paid accolades to them. But they insist that government needs to offer them the assurance that cost of printing books will be greatly subsidised to avoid foreign printing and save the country from capital flight. They further asked that the government should learn to patronise arts, endow art galleries and have our leaders sit for paintings.
Across board, the youths want more flexible loan regimes and setting up of creative hubs across zones and regions in the country for their dreams to be realized. They say I should inform you that government should stop working on, but to starting implementing “access to cheap credit, and on providing infrastructure, especially power, greater broadband penetrati*n.”
Mr. Vice President, one of the youths asked me what you meant when you said: “What can we do together to ensure that we don't spend the rest of our days looking forward to the past,” noting that your administration has been “frozen by inaction,” by constantly looking forward to the past.
She said I should appeal to you to resolve to stop doing the same things over and over, rather you should look forward to the future with less looking back to the past.
But in all, they agree with you that “the solution is in building the Nigerian bridge. This bridge will not be built of steel or bricks and mortar, but it must be made of the strongest materials of all, our will to excel, our commitment to build a new society, men and women of a new Nigerian tribe.”
Not to forget, they say I should give the Vice President ACCOLADES for the brilliance of the delivery, even as they await your ASSURANCE!
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