Former President Goodluck Jonathan has advised Nigerian youths, especially aspiring young leaders, not to repeat the mistakes of the past, charging them to revolutionise a new paradigm shift in leadership and citizenship.
Jonathan gave the charge yesterday in Yenagoa while receiving the New Nigeria 2019 Group, (#NN-2019) and the Young Professionals of Nigeria (YPN) led by Chima Nwafor and Moses Siasia.
He also commended the youth groups for trying to chart a new course for the socio-political development of the country.
The former president, who described youths as the pillar of any society, stressed that anybody who meant well for the society will not downplay the role of the youths, noting that the political history of the country was replete with youths who have played leadership positions and performed creditably well.
He also went on to urge the youths not to make the fundamental mistakes of past leaders which included mistakes of tribalism, nepotism, and mistakes of religious intolerance.
He said: “I am happy that you cut across all parts of the country, you are not here because you are Christians or Muslims, you are not here because you are from the South-South, or from the North-east, or North-west or South-west, but because you are Nigerian youths that are committed to a particular cause and you want to make an impact for a better society for us and the future generations.”
A statement issued by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, also noted that Jonathan identified himself with other leaders who had advocated for young people to be fully involved in leadership. According to the statement, former President Jonathan said further that he believed in the philosophy of Late Maitama Sule who posited “that the young breed without old breed will breed greed.” I believe that both old and young people must come together.
He noted that there was a time young people played dominant roles in the nation’s politics. He said: “All the big historical names you hear; Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Sarduana of Sokoto, Michael Okpara, all of them got involved in governance at very young age. Some of them were ministers in their twenties.”
He stressed that the situation was similar up to the time of the military heads of state, starting from Yakubu Gowon who was 32 and Ibrahim Babangida and President Buhari who became heads of state as young men.
He said further: “I am not envisioning a government that every actor will be below thirty-five years old, but I share the aspiration of those who want young people to be fully involved in governance.
“I remember when Alfred Diette Spiff was the military governor of the then old Rivers State, though most of the members of his cabinet were older than him and even referred to him as “my son,” together they achieved much in infrastructure and human development.
Jonathan stated that during his political career as a governor and president, he encouraged young people and women to play key roles in governance.
“Before I leave let me charge the young people in two key areas; the young must reform the young for us to grow positively. Some of the challenges like cultism, kidnapping and terror that we are have in the society are perpetrated by youths who have been used negatively.
“A group like yours constituting of CEOs must create platforms to re- orientate the thinking of our young people. I am glad that you mentioned setting up similar bodies, across the country. At least even if you start from the universities and secondary schools, to change the mindset of the youths. Youth movements like Boys Scout, Boys Brigade and Girls Guide, developed from this kind of thinking. He went on to note that the growth of society should not be marked by flashy cars, sky scrapers and beautiful roads but by the people, the way they think and the way they do things.
Earlier, the Convener of NN-2019, Dr. Chima Anyaso and Chairman of NYPF, Moses Siasia, said they are consulting with elder statesmen all over the country to seek their blessings and support, and mobilising young minds to advocate for democratic inclusion come 2019, stressing that they have taken up the challenge to participate actively in the democratic process of the country.