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Eso: It’s time for generational shift in Osun politics


Tunde Eso

Tunde Eso, political scientist and author of African Security Solution is also the president of Fix Nigeria Group. In this interview with The Guardian, he explains how youths can play frontline roles in Osun politics in the next dispensation. He also talks about youth empowerment, and socio-economic development of the state.  

What are your expectations for Osun State in the next political season?
Osun State deserves a young visionary leadership, with a view to providing equal opportunities for all; it needs a leader who will elicit the reality of youth empowerment, good welfare package for civil servants, students, women, men, traditional rulers, elder citizens, industrial growth and security. It requires someone that will transform the state from a civil service state to an industrial economy that will generate employment opportunities.
Osun state deserves a humanitarian and compassionate young visionary leader in the next political dispensation, who will be fully committed to helping the development of an enabling environment for business growth, development and social integration. Osun deserves a gubernatorial candidate that will enable the youths to inject new political ideology, which will bring about educational growth, political stability and industrial development, among others.

What employment opportunities are available apart from civil service?
I must confess that poverty has eaten deep into the fabrics of most Nigerians especially those from Osun State. To me, there is an urgent need for a proactive approach from the next political dispensation to salvage the ills of the state. Osun is an agrarian state; therefore government ought to take advantage of agriculture that provides the largest employment opportunities. However, it’s disappointing that there is no viable industry that could take advantage of agricultural by-products. There is no single plastic industry in Osun State, yet most homes in the state make use of plastic products. We have coal and gold in Osun State, yet nothing is done to exploit their economic benefits to the citizens of the state.

How can youths play frontline roles in the politics of the state?
For Osun State youth to play frontline roles in politics, they must coordinate themselves and support one of their own in the forthcoming political dispensation because they constitute about 69 percent of our population and have almost 75 percent of voting rights. The youth have the strength, energy, dynamism, intellectual prowess and more importantly, the population to capture power. In this regard, I advise dynamic youths to stop criticizing government without proffering solutions to problems. They should rather support young visionary leaders with aspiration to vie for political positions in the state.
Research has shown that most youths are not members of any political party, nor do they bother on how they are governed. Those who do don’t attend ward meetings; yet that is where major decisions that determine our future are taken. It should be noted that power is not easily attained; one must struggle for it. Power will not get to the youths on a platter of gold. They must come out of their cocoon and begin to make sacrifices in search for power.  Youths must be resolute; they must be interested in how they are governed and in policy formulation and implementation. That is the only way power can get to them.

Do you think youths have been sidelined?
Youths have been sidelined because they have never believed in themselves, nor taken time to read about the history of those before them. People like Chief Obafemi Awolowo at 37 years, Akintola at 36, Ahmadu Bello at 36, Tafawa Balewa at 34, Okotie Eboh at 27, and Chief Anthony Enahoro all contributed to the struggle for Nigeria’s independence.
In 1966, the first military coup was led by K. Nzeogwu 29, but countered by M. Mohammed 28. Theophilus Danjuma 28, IBB 25, J. Garba 23, Sani Abacha 23, Yar’adua 23, Yakubu Gowon 32, Ojukwu 33, Olusegun Obasanjo 29, and Buhari 24 were all in power at very tender age. Even here in Osun state, former Governor Isiaka Adeleke became the first governor at the age of 36, while the seating governor of Ekiti State became governor at 38. What are the present youth waiting for?

The youth allowed the emergence of the present political situation in Osun State and Nigeria because majority of us are not properly orientated on the power of franchise. While some sold their franchise for a cup of rice, those who were a bit fortunate sold their rights with just N500 at polling centres. What a shame!
The old generation of politicians will continue to sideline the youths until we realise that youths constitute the largest number of voters. They should use their numerical strength to pick and elect one of them with pragmatic programmes. Nigerians kill those they should defend and defend those they should kill.

How can today’s youth become politically relevant?
It is disheartening to note that majority of Nigerian youths are either unemployed or underemployed. Few of those in regular employment are daily confronted with so much socio-economic pressure from several dependants. 

Youths should be educationally empowered and given opportunities to be part of the political process in the state. A situation where political positions are given to the highest bidder should be eliminated. Rather, any youth that has what it takes in terms of leadership qualities should be given the required support to vie for relevant political positions.

What are the opportunities for youth empowerment in the state apart from public service?
Osun is a civil service state, which cannot employ all qualified youths in the state. Youth empowerment programmes that can assist them in terms of start-up loans and grants for self-help should be provided.


In this article:
Tunde Eso
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