Power will not come to youth on platter of gold - Mohammed
There are allegations that President Muhammadu Buhari has sidelined the youth in his appointment of ministers. Murtala Adogi Mohammed, a youth empowerment expert and poverty reduction specialist is a Co-Founder of Centre for Education and Leadership Development, and Founder of Murry Greens Consult, Nigeria. In this interview, he says he still holds the view that Nigerian youth need to prove themselves so as to be entrusted with positions of authority. Excerpts: engagement with young Nigerians will have to be done through blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, in responding to questions raised by young Nigerians.
But again, the exclusion of youths in his ministerial list means the youths are yet to be ready for leadership of this country. It goes to say the youth played a part though, but did not strategically make investments to belong to the administration.
What advice do you have for the incoming Minister of Youth Development?
My advice to the incoming youth minister is that he/she seriously needs to facilitate the repositioning of the ministry - specifically to sustainably increase the access of unemployed youth to entrepreneurial skills and employment opportunities for selfreliance and income security. This could be done by working together with key government departments and agencies that implement projects and schemes such NDE, SMEDAN, NAPEP and ITF and others. If Nigeria fails to empower the teeming populations of young people, the seriousness of the country’s predicament should not be underestimated. Its prospects might be bleak.
Where and how do you think youth can contribute in this administration’s change agenda?
Mr. President also needs to know that youths have a critical role to play in the implementation of the change agenda. It is very important for young people to take part in the planning, implementation and monitoring of this administration’s reform projects. This, they can do through multi-sectoral
What are your views on the names of prospective minsters unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari?
I am sure Mr. President followed the robust debate on the issues of non-inclusion of youths as ministerial nominees. Millions of youths contributed tirelessly to the success of the change movement, and feel they are only important and useful in serving as publicists, social media campaigners, voters and special assistants. And it seems holding leadership positions is not for them. I think the youth of this great nation need better strategy; it is all about hard negotiations through a strong platform. We also need to have an improved coordination with clearcut targets. The implication is that the youth would not have a representative at the executive council. I once said that a ministry of youth without youths as the head might only be for contractors, not youths. Also, anything for the youths discussed without youths is not for the youths, it might be for the politicians.
I would like Mr. President to do his best to know how youths react to his policies and programmes. Working together with youths both online and offline is very important for any leader that wants to succeed. Obama is doing it; David Cameron is doing it; other world leaders are doing it. Therefore, Mr. President should note that there is need for him and members of his youths’ task team to be social media savvies, and thoroughly understand the tools and ways of how the social media works. This requirement is nonnegotiable as a substantial part of the technical task team. The activities might include mobilization of other young people to push for various reforms in the agenda and in other institutional policy frameworks. This will create a critical mass to demand and facilitate accountability checks on the government on annual progress plans, budget and medium term plans. There is need for this administration to create youth technical task teams to set the ball rolling and develop a four-year strategic plan within the Q2 and Q3 of this administration. I will conclude with some of the key findings of the British Council 2010 report, which reveal that Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world that has young workers in plentiful supply. Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource in the 21st Century.
Do you think the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has a clear agenda for the youths?
I have not seen one yet. A clear-cut agenda for the youth cuts across the out-of-school youth, the graduates and youth with disability. But I think there is need for the current administration to initiate agenda for the youths with key performance indicators. First and foremost, there will be need for NEEDS assessment to have a clear picture of the different youths’ groups; out of school youths, unemployed graduates, underemployed graduates, youths with disability, and youths in drugs. That would help the government to avoid one-size-fits-all youths’ agenda.
Murtala Adogi Mohammed