In what appeared to be a clarion call, a former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African youth to be deliberate about taking over leadership positions from the older generations.
The African political landscape has, over the years, been dominated by the older generation, who often use the youth as stepping stones to actualise their political biddings.
Mr Obasanjo, who has benefited from the continent’s ‘gerontocratic’ system in the past, at a virtual meeting held on Wednesday to mark the 2020 International Youth Day, told the youth to actively participate in political activities with a view to take over its structure rather than being tools in the hands of their aged leaders.
“Unless you squeeze out those who are in office and those who want to remain in office perpetually, some after the age of 80, unless you squeeze them out, they will not want to be out.
“The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark upon is to subscribe to the constitution of political parties in favour of youth, or if you like it, you call it affirmative action in favour of youth.
“For instance, if you say, in the constitution of a political party, not less than 50 per cent of those who hold executive office within the party will be less than 40 years.
“You can even go beyond that and say that people who will be put up for election, not less than 50 per cent of them will be less than 40 years of age. That’s affirmative action. That’s positive discrimination in favour of youth,” Punch newspaper reported the former president to have said at the programme believed to have drawn participants from different parts of the world.
It was organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta.
Born on March 5, 1937, Mr Obasanjo is the first Nigerian to serve as a military head of state and a civilian president. He was democratically elected president of Nigeria in 1999 and he was re-elected in 2003.