Kolawole Babatunde, the lawmaker representing Atakumosa East and West Constituency of Ondo State in the House of Representatives has urged Nigerian youths to equip themselves with the necessary leadership skills.
Babatunde gave the advice in Abuja at a colloquium on youths and the future of democracy in Nigeria on Friday, 26 May 2017.
Organised by the Forum for Young Parliamentarians (YPF), Youth Initiative for Advocay, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), the event created an avenue for youths to discuss the state of Nigeria’s democracy, democratic patterns priorities, problems and prospects for the future.
Speaking on the place of money in Nigerian politics, Babatunde noted that while his colleagues in the South East spent about N200 million to win elections in their constituencies, he spent only N5 million.
“I do reach out to the youths in my community a lot. I'm a grassroot person,” the lawmaker said.
“That was why during the elections, while my colleagues from the East spent N200 million for election in their constituencies, I spent only N5 million -- from primaries till the end of the election.
“We cannot take away the issue of godfatherism from Nigerian politics but if you can prove that you have the capacity to deliver, you will gain the support of your people.
“I have served two terms now, and I promised my people that when I’m leaving, I will be handing over to another young person.
“They used to say that the youths are the future of tomorrow because they know that tomorrow will never come. I believe that the youths are not just the future of tomorrow but today.
“My advice to the youth is when you get there, don’t get carried away and be responsible. Remember your people and gain their support. That is the only way you will succeed. There is no two ways about it,” Babatunde added.
Speaking on the achievements of YPF, its chairman, Ralph Igbokwe noted that the forum has continued to place youth-related issues on the front burner at the House of Representatives.
He said: “When the federal government said they lacked the capacity to mobilize 100,000 youths for the compulsory NYSC programme, we the Young Parliamentarian Forum in the House fought it. We summoned the DG NYSC, the minister of Finance and all other stakeholders and it was reversed.
"When Nigerian student were being killed in South Africa, we brought a motion to the floor of the House and ensured that a delegation was sent to South African and the issue was also resolved," he added.
Igbokwe maintained that the YPF has given the necessary support to ensure that the Not Too Young to Run Billis passed into law by both chambers of the National Assembly.
On her part, Funke Baruwa, the president, Nigerian WomenTrust Fund noted that unless the practice of democracy is separated from our culture and traditions, Nigerian state could not be said to be truly democratic.
Baruwa further called for more appointment of women into elective positions given the significant roles they play in nation building.