Engineer Solomon Gowin Bamola, is an Indigent of Kogi State from Lokoja local Government. He has been in the fore front in the actualization of Youth emancipation in Africa and Nigerian in particular, towards this effort, he initiated a youth empowerment programme known as YouthReap, currently an aspirant for the post of National Youth leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), In this interview with SavidNews, Bamola reeled out his agenda for Nigeria youth if elected as youth leader in the coming PDP special convention, he also explained on the his agitation for the 40 percent affirmation for Nigeria youth. Excerpt:
What actually went wrong last time when you decided to withdraw your aspiration for the position of the PDP National Youth Leader that you are currently eyeing now?
There was nothing wrong; the reason was because I have great Love for the party and unwavering loyalty to the leadership and of course the elders of the party. The leadership of the party made an announcement that all those that are aspiring for the position of the National Youth Leader of the party should drop their ambitions and instead garner support for a particular candidate, who was perceived to be the choice candidate for the office at that particular point in time. It’s not that we are not preferential too, but the party’s leadership constricted the list in the bid to harvest support for the choice candidate in order to ensure sturdy internal democracy. And because we “the candidates” believe that the interest of the party is of utmost importance, we temporarily threw in the towel and lend our full support to the party’s chosen one “now the former National Youth Leader; Alhaji Ibrahim Garba Chiza.
Why are you crusading for the same position that you were asked to withdraw from earlier on?
I will put it to you conservatively; I am not swayed, neither am I satisfied with the representation that the party has among Nigerian youths. Obviously, the former youth leader must have tried in his capacity, but I believe that more and advanced steps can still be taken towards the perfection of the party’s youth representation and I am certain that the position is an immense one that could do a lot more for the youths of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If truly we want to make PDP the impenetrable and largest political part in the sub-Sahara Africa, we cannot but be precarious in involvement of youths in all facets of governance in the country. That is the key factor that gives me the drive to once again contest for the office of the National Youth Leader and if given the opportunity to represent the youths of Nigeria in the party, I plan to make huge positive differences in the lives of the Nigerian youths and ensure that they have a sense of belonging and participation in governance. I shall also continue to make government understand why the youths must be more actively involved in governance. Concisely, my policy thrust if elected as the National Youth Leader of PDP, will guarantee that Nigerian youths are given 40 percent affirmation in governance, just as our mothers are nearly at the peak of their 35 percent participation in governance. The youths are the engine room of the government of any nation and they must be carried along, a new engine should run with care if it is the engine’s owner’s desire for the engine to last longer, so the youth are to be fast-tracked with absolute attention, protection and be given their rights, so that they can see Nigeria as a country they own and think of what they can do positively for the country, not what the country can do for them.
Are you saying the current administration has not carried the youths along in governance?
Embracing that assumption would be undermining the dogged efforts that the PDP led administration has been pursuing in the strive to carry the Nigerian youths along in governance agenda and as a matter of fact, PresidentGood luck Ebele Jonathan, in so many ways have done and still doing his noblest in the lives of Nigeria youths, notable among these are the creation of youth development through Health, Education, Agriculture among so many other programmes he has designed for the youths. The government can furthermore do better by involving private companies and talented individuals to come in and compliment the efforts of the government in the areas of youth development. Mr. President has through these efforts succeeded in a drastic reduction of the raging insecurity in the country, this is a man I have immense respect for, a tacit achiever who in spite of the long lists of sharp criticisms that has been leveled against him so far remain strongly focused in his transformation agenda, he has never been perplexed by the antics of his disparagers, a man who pursues his agendas with a slow and steady approach and we all know the popular proverb which states that “slow and steady wins the race”. His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan is by far the most criticized president this country has ever had, but yet he has never and he will never cave-in, in his dogged pursuit to continue tackling all government policy programme head on. For instance, let’s take a look at the astounding improvements emerging as a result of Mr. President’s decision to declare a “state emergency” rule in some northern states, you will agree with me that peace is gradually returning to those states, you can now peacefully travel without any fear of possible attacks to Borno, Yobe and some other northern states that has until recently been a hot spot for insurrections. Before the emergency rule, some of these states are “go at your own risk” areas. The insecurity situation in the north and some other parts of the country has been in existence for many years before now. It is only in recent times that the phenomenon suddenly shot up because it wasn’t tackled at the early stage, the fire one could have put out with just a cup of water, if not properly curtailed; even an ocean will not be able to smother it. But Mr. President as of today has succeeded in stamping out this fire, though we still have some pockets of it here and there, but I am very sure the president is using his wisdom to nip the problems at the bud.
To be more elaborate, what has been the effort of the PDP led administration in areas of youth development?
Everywhere in the world, the beauty of democracy is the opportunity to express oneself; opportunity to vote and to be voted for. The real essence of Democracy is the opportunity to be of service at any level of governance. Therefore, it is heartwarming for an individual to summon courage and aspire to serve his or her country. As a loyal member of PDP and former aspirant for the office of the National Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, I have come to realize the fact that issues concerning the welfare of Nigerian youths have been properly articulated by the founding leaders of our great party from inception but government’s response towards the implementation of the founding fathers’ visions has not been done with the precise commitment. Our party places high emphasis on matters affecting the youth and this is the reason why the PDP led government since the inception of the Democratic Government instituted and consolidated various steps to address youth concerns, most especially as it affects their physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychological wellbeing.
The creation of the Federal Ministry of Youth development; the laudable designing and subsequent implementation of a workable National Youth policy with special focus on youth employment and engagement; deliberate efforts to involve youths in governance and in decision making process; efforts to resolve the leadership crisis in the National Youth Council of Nigeria are some of the deliberate steps taken by the PDP government to address Youth concerns in Nigeria and I think this is quite commendable. It, therefore, points to the fact that government is moving away from the deficit-based approach of dealing with the youths and is creating the enabling environments to institutionalize youth matters with all the key stakeholders and that also includes helping the youths to take their rightful place in government and in the society in general. The newly instituted Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN) alongside the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) of the present administration has created more opportunities for highly creative youths to get start-up grants to establish businesses that will further create and generate more employment opportunities for other less privileged young persons. Do not also forget that agencies like SMEDAN, NERFUND, NDE, NAPEP also target economically viable youth population and have also been properly positioned to serve the youth more productively even though there are always room for improvements as we progress even as a democratic nation.
I am of the opinion that we need to place more emphasis on developing more result oriented strategies to deal with the issues of quality education at all levels with a view to embedding enterprise education as key component for boosting the capacities of young school leavers’ view towards addressing the rising rates of unemployment and to impact positive civil and citizenship orientation on them. We must also note that government alone cannot do everything; other stakeholders such as the private sector, NGOs, business community, religious organizations and so many more all have critical roles to play in the development of the Nigerian youth to a desired standard of behavior and empowerment. I must commend the efforts of the PDP – led government under the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan for the commitment exhibited in addressing challenges facing the youths of this great country as seen in some of the recently launched programmes. It is on this premise that I also wish to ensure that the Youth REAP project key effectively into government’s strategies with a view to ensuring that the overall objective of instituting efforts to address youths’ needs is fully realized within the framework of effectively collaboration among the key stakeholders.
But you are aware that the PDP is currently facing some internal challenges
Let us examine PDP, being the biggest political party in the black race and let me relate it to “a one big family” viewpoint, we all know that it’s practically impossible for a big family to completely avoid quarrels. And when they do quarrel, there’s no need for an outsider to come in and settle their internal squabbles, it is the role of each individual in the family to come to an acceptable agreement in order to ensure that all the free-for-alls simmer down. PDP is a very big party, and you know they say the bigger the head the bigger the headache, but I am telling you that with the leadership of the party headed by the national chairman; Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, we will always come out stronger, virile and bigger as usual.
What is your opinion on the ongoing political impasse in River State
The situation in river state, is currently been blown out of proportion by some group of turncoats who have been busy fueling the impasse just for the sake of cheap publicity. Governor Rotimi Amaechi and Mr. President are brothers from the same region and they are both unswerving members of the PDP. By God, this party is endowed with people of high proven integrity; they have the wisdom and intellectualism to resolve issues that are even greater than this little fall-out. But however, I will advise his excellency governor Amaechi, to be serene and eschew bitterness and find a lasting approach to the crises that has been threatening his state internally.
How do you address the social vices among the Nigeria youths?
That has always been the order of the day, but for the love of God, that is whywe want to come in and proffer strategies on how to curb youth restiveness and hooliganism alongside other social vices which had snowballed into thesecurity challenges we are having today, because you will agree with me that whatever insecurity we are facing today are been carried out by the youths, there is hardly any elderly person anywhere in the world that will be strong enough to take arms and instigate restiveness, the woman-folk are also not cut out for violence, violence is the terrain of the youths.
That’s why we want to come in and make a paradigm shift in youth affairs, we need to create youth development , create empowerment and I am very sure that government has the capacity to do it, but first there must be quality and responsive representation that will ensure that the youths are also planned along with the future of this nation, job security can be provided for them just as other countries are doing for their youths, we have financial and human resources in this country, so government will have to put more efforts into this venture, so that the youth can be positively committed to the development of the nation. Look at the situation of a youth who cannot afford just one square meal a day talk less of attending to his daily needs and you can easily picture the kind of behavior you will expect from that youth, of course he will indulge in some negative activities just to make ends meet. Let me also paint a picture of a young man who after having starved and underfed for several days happen to encounter a stranger who came along with strange a bag and promised to give the young man a meager sum of three thousand naira in return for dropping the bag in a particular spot, the visibly hungry young man will jump at the offer without caring about the contents of the bag, take the money and do the simple job he is asked to do, and at the end of the day, the bag which contained Improvised Explosive Devices will end up terminating precious and innocent lives just because of a meager sum of three thousand naira. The young man might not be willing to carry out such an evil act had he knew what the bag contains, but because of the life threatening situation surrounding him, he would not care to enquire about what the bags contents – this is a practical analogy of an idle youth.