By HME Ojochogu
As a patriotic Kogite, I decided to relocate home temporarily and participate in the electoral processes that will birth the 5th democratically elected governor and government.
I observed keenly the emergence of the two major parties’ candidates.
In one, I managed to find my way INTO the stadium against the wishes of the fierce looking men in uniform at the entrance and in the other I survived the scramble to get OUT of the stadium where gun shots and tear gas held sway.
I have always enjoyed robust discussions on the impact of politics and governance on the people at the grassroots and their own understanding of the elitist political class.
In one of such gatherings, a youth of about 25 years of age proudly informed me
“We are now in the era where the youth pilots the affairs of today. We are no longer the leaders of tomorrow. GYB/CEDO made this possible”
…..and another tartly retorted
“When your parents have not been collecting salary and are struggling to feed you and pay your school fees you are here posting rubbish, what do you know about politics”?
…..and yet another “political slavery & power recycling agenda between families is not the way out. Shine your eyes my people”
Really! Shouted an outraged teenaged girl who said she has been home from school for almost 2 years due to her parent’s inability to continue the payment of her school fees and so resorted to hawking dried fish and soup ingredients to ensure food on the table for her parents and siblings everyday.
Really!!!!! She shouted again. Can you say today, even now as you’re sitting here that you’re a leader? what are you leading and to where?
Her response to these robust discussion forms the fulcrum of my writing today. Please overlook the use of English language and simply enjoy the perception of our Igala youth about the political happenings in Kogi state.
“Bros let me tell you what is being offered today is mere token compared to what we had pre 2015 and I will suggest here that we stop celebrating “tokenism” as being propagated by CEDO.
what do you know about politics?
You are only a girl that could not even finish ordinary ND.
I may be a small girl but since madam here has asked me my opinion I’m going to say my piece anyway.
Ma, I repeat myself again by saying that what this government is giving to us which they are calling empowerment is mere tokenism. Let me define it in a simpler terms. Tokenism are subtle actions undertaken while pretending to give advantage to the youths who are always treated unfairly so as to give the appearance of fairness while hiding the real agenda.
…..“if you can speak grammar like this why did you drop out of kogi poly?
“You will not understand besides that’s a story for another day.”
“But let me tell you from personal experience that the so called leaders of “forever tomorrow” who have been made leaders of today by this government is just a fallacy designed to hoodwink us into doing their bidding and perpetuate themselves in power,” Ajifa said.
“For example, my fathers 1st born in our family is a graduate of political science from KSU, he graduated since 2014 and has not been able to get a job. When this government was inaugurated and his friend became an SSA, we thought finally relief has come considering that this friend lives next door to us in this Lokoja.”
….Look Ajifa, this woman is not here to listen to your family story don’t waste everybody’s time, she has asked us a simple question about this government and its youths empowerment programs.”
…..and I am still on my feet to tell her that the so called leaders of forever tomorrow that have been made leaders of today is nothing but mirage,” she replied.
“My senior brother that has become a leader of today still cannot feed himself or help pay the school fees of my younger ones. Instead of giving them a training in skill acquisition, land for agricultural farming or even funding to start a business the group of guys my brother flows with were empowered with guns, a ridiculous uniform and sent on assignments randomly with just 20k and sometimes nothing but employment promissory note that has no delivery date!”.
“He still depends on me to bring in the little I make from my fish sales to make food for the family in the evening and yet they call him “leader of today”..
“Please ma help me ask any of them here sitted who have been made leaders of today if they can feed, clothe, or even live on the tokens or stipends they receive from government house yet they will do anything including causing chaos and violence to get noticed and be given this token.”
“My brother has told me of how some of his friends who went on a killing spree before and during the 2019 general election were compensated with Camry muscle and millions of Naira.”
….The truth of the matter madam, another continued, “is that this government has failed us as youths and to be candid I as a person I’m not going to vote for this party again. I remember all I did for Prince Audu to win only for this man to inherit the votes and turn us into thugs and beggars.”
“They promised me appointment since 2017 up till now nothing.”
“When it was time for election in February they called us for a meeting, gave us 100k each and told us to go to our LG and work with the Chairmen to deliver for our party.”
“APC is not a party with our interest in mind they will use us and dump us or give us tokens as my sister just said.”
“I will rather vote PDP that is family party and hope for the best.”
…..Another interjects hotly! “How can you vote for a party that doesn’t see you as being leader but only their children and family members? God will ……”
…….Don’t even go there omatai, don’t bring God into this matter, we say captain Wada is not good and Audu should return, death took him away and we are stuck with Yahaya Bello who cannot even pay salary talk less of development but I will not give up on Kogi.”
“I am still watching to see who is the lesser evil between Bello and Wada and I will vote who I know will make jobs available again and others like my sister Ajifa can return to school.”
“APC as a party has made the country and Kogi worse than it has ever been. We said GEJ was ‘Mr clueless’ and should go, we voted for a retired military officer who we were told was a “born again democrat” and the country including our Kogi has been on reverse movement by someone worse than clueless yet he looks us in the face and tell us “I’m not Aware”’!.
I had to step in at this junction as despondency seems to have enveloped everyone to enlightened them on what they should ask for or demand from the candidates of the various parties presenting for election before voting them.
Once you collect their monies and miss this opportunity, be prepared for whatever they will dish out while this lamentation and despondency continues till 2023.
…and so on behalf of the youths, perpetual leaders of tomorrow, I ask our candidates for the November 16th election in Kogi state;
- what are your plans for teeming youths of Kogi state?
- how do you intend to lift the people out of poverty considering Kogi’s civil service status?
- how do you intend to tackle insecurity & herders’/farmers crisis to ensure a quick return to farming?
- what is your economic blueprint for the state that’s perpetually dependent on federal allocation?
My final advice for our perpetual leaders of tomorrow is to emancipate themselves by:
- acquiring the necessary educational qualification that can get you employment
- acquiring a skill through the various skill acquisition centers,
- drawing up a business plan and apply for loans
- Get government empowerment by voting the party and candidate that will take you through the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in the control of your affairs, respect for human rights, rule of law and freedom of speech (before and after)
With over 8 good political parties parading Igala as their governorship candidates, do your research, select the one you think will bring growth and development to Igala land and not violence, hunger (ebigbe) and suicide to our people and VOTE!
Thanks for reading!