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Use only your children as thugs, Obasanjo warns politicians

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta), Akin Alofetekun (Minna), Tina Todo (Calabar), Danjuma Michael (Katsina) and Emeka Nwachukwu (Lagos
15 November 2018   |   4:20 am
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has taken a swipe at politicians who use other people’s children as thugs while shielding theirs from trouble...

[FILE PHOTO] Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has taken a swipe at politicians who use other people’s children as thugs while shielding theirs from trouble.

The denunciation came amid concerns that parts of the nation may experience violence during the 2019 general elections.

Obasanjo made the condemnation yesterday while delivering a paper at the Inauguration of King’s College London Global Leaders Engagement Series in London.

Speaking on ‘Demystifying Leadership Capacity Deficit of African Youths: Our Future is in their Hands’, he declared: “Enough of using other people’s children as experimental subjects and keeping ours in safe havens; enough of using other people’s children as political thugs and ballot box snuffers, while we send ours to Ivy League schools; enough of thinking we know what is right for young people without their input or the courtesy of asking for their opinions.”

He noted that African youths must put their acts together and vie for political offices, despite obstacles such as expensive nomination forms and huge cost of political campaigns.

According to him, hope is not lost as he foresees a continent where the “creative energies, intellectual prowess and ingenuity of the youth are capable of leading Africa to the Promised Land.”

The former president said further: “Succession planning is a culture that Africa needs to imbibe. It increases the number of people who are capable and available to assume leadership roles when the incumbent is no longer available to do so. This is a deliberate process.

“We cannot continue to assume that by mere observation from afar, young people understand why we do what we do. We must introduce them to our networks and partners; set them up to represent us in important meetings while we can still guide and nurture them. An organisation should not go kaput because one person is no longer available to lead.

“If constitutional changes are required, let us begin now. If policies and political party structures have to change, let us begin now. Of what use is a law that allows young people contest for a particular office only to be confronted with the hurdle of outrageously exorbitant cost of party nomination forms and campaign costs?”

He added: “The young people must remember that the future is influenced by the present and the past. The present is a legacy of the past, handed over by the other generation. This legacy is a product of hard work, successes, failures and experience. It must be preserved. The youth must understand that today’s leaders are tomorrow’s seniors and the record of their leadership will also become a legacy to another generation.”

The admonition meanwhile coincided with a warning to youths to desist from life-threatening illegal migrations.

Many of the nation’s youths have embarked on dangerous journeys across the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea in search of better economic opportunities in Europe.

Acting coordinator, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), South West Zone, Mr. Segun Afolayan, gave the advice yesterday when he received a fresh batch of 116 Nigerians repatriated from Libya. Their return was facilitated through a joint effort by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)/European Union (EU) and the Nigerian government.

In fact, with the general elections only about three months away, efforts at having peaceful polls have become more concerted.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that only politicians could stop the menace of vote buying.

National Commissioner Festus Okoye stated this yesterday in Katsina State at stakeholders’ meeting ahead of Saturday’s bye-election for the Ingawa/Kankia/Kusada federal constituency seat.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman in the state, Salisu Yusuf Majigiri, had accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of vote buying during the last Katsina North senatorial bye-election, urging INEC to find a lasting solution to the problem.

But Okoye, who was represented by INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Kano State, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, insisted that vote buying was never the creation of the electoral body.

Also, the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) said that it was collaborating with INEC to ensure a successful election.

Mr. Rudoff Elbling, ECES Project Coordinator in Nigeria, made this known in Minna, Niger State, while inaugurating a two-day workshop for officials of INEC. “It is my hope that the zonal workshops will lay a solid basis for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2019. It will also sensitise participants to their expected roles before, during and after the elections,” he said.

Elbling, who was represented by Senior Election Expert at the centre, Dr Isiaka Yahaya, said that the exercise would familiarise functionaries of the commission with the structure and operational frameworks of the Election Monitoring and Support Centre (EMSC).

He said the EMSC was a tool that INEC requires to effectively manage field assets, resources, constituencies and chains of electoral activities in organising elections.

The project coordinator said the measure was also an innovative way to monitor election plans and implementation of electoral activities that could assist INEC in evaluating its readiness for an election.

“ECES is delighted that INEC has taken a giant stride in the integration of the Election Project Plan (EPP) and Election Management System (EMS) for effective implementation and monitoring of election activities,” he said.