In this interview with ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU, the President National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Amb. Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo speaks on the concerns for the unity of Nigeria youths and their chance in the 2023 general election.
What is the current state of NYCN?
While NYCN as the apex youth body in Nigeria like every other body in the country has its own issue and challenges. But the truth is we are addressing it and very soon the youth shall once again speak with a united voice. Under my leadership, we are concerned about empowerment of the Nigeria youths and we have in line with our concerns organized many programmes that are specifically aimed at empowering the teaming Nigeria youth. We believe that the best way to end poverty and bring about sound security architecture in the country is to ensure that the youths are meaningfully engaged. So on our own, with the singular support of Belema Oil, an indigenous company that the youth shall forever be greatful to, we have given scholarship to many students from across the country. We have also organized many skill acquisition programmes and we have given soft loans to youths to start one business or the other. Some of the things we have also done include public awareness and sensitization on drug abuse, rape and some issues that affect the Nigeria youths. So the NYCN is focused on improving the living standard of the Nigeria youth.
You talked about insecurity in Nigeria, how do you think the youth can help make Nigeria a safe place for all?
I think the question should be how the youth can do more to make Nigeria safe. This is because the youth have done so many things for the safety of Nigerians and non Nigerians. You will find youths in the army, police and other paramilitary organizations. Some of them. have laid down their lives for our safety. To answer your question, the youth themselves have to first think safe, act safe and be safe. What the youth need to do is to continue to support the security personnel with adequate intelligence and to also shun any social vices that my lead to insecurity. So there is need for the youth to be meaningfully engaged because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. This is why we are investing our time and the little resources that we can gather to empower the Nigerian youth. So the youths should continue to make themselves available to serve in Nigeria army and the paramilitary. They should also be conscious of their environment and report any suspicious movement to the appropriate channel. Beside all these, they should key into the federal government, state government and even zonal security arrangements.
The President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration claimed it has empowered many youths and taken many out of poverty, what is your reaction to this?
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is doing its best. Let me first commend the President for believing in the Nigeria youth. He has shown this in term of programmes and policies. The NPower programme of this government is for the youth, anchor borrower programme also for the youth, the anti corruption policies of this government is also for the youth because we are the future of this country. Another aspect the President is trying is by ensuring that we have a country that we will be proud to call our own. What our leaders are doing across the country is to put solid foundation on ground for the growth and development of our nation. Yes President Muhammadu Buhari has empowered some and taken some out of poverty, but there is room to do more. Like Oliver Twist, we charge President Muhammadu Buhari and his team to do more on human development. When the living standard of our people improves, poverty will gradually exit our country and insecurity will become a thing of the past.
Do you think this administration is youth friendly, especially in terms of youth inclusiveness?
Well, in terms of youth inclusiveness in governance the federal government and even state government are not doing enough. We still have many competent and intelligent youths that can help solve problems that are bedeviling our nation. Like I always tell my comrades, the nation can grow with effective use of the radicalism of the youths and the wisdom of the elders. But in governance today across the entire country, the elders dominate most of the leadership positions; this is not too good for a country that is yearning for development. There is need to give more room for youths, because this is digital age and they have the energy to take our country to the promise land.
But the not too young to run act, gave many the legal backing to contest for elective position in 2019 and majority still refused.
Yes with the not too young to run act, many young Nigerians now have the legal right to contest for most elective positions in the country. But the question is: do they have the financial capacity to contest in our expensive electoral system? How many major political platform will democratically allow youths to emerge as its candidate?. So the legal right is there, but the political atmosphere is not conducive enough for youth to contest and win let say House of Representative, not to even talk about Senator and governorship. But on our part, we are planning to organize a national youth political summit to address some of these issues ahead of 2023 general elections4. We are not going to be discouraged. I also want to encourage competent youths to continue to engage and sensitize their people, they should also spend more time and resources to prepare themselves for leadership position.
Talking about 2023, some northern youths want presidency zoned to South South, what is your reaction to zoning.
Well the NYCN is not a political party, irrespective of where we are from and the religion we practice, we are all proud Nigerians. Our concern is the development of our dear country. Though zoning is not in the constitution, but we support any political arrangement or agreement that will give every region, tribe and religion a sense of belonging. So the political arrangement that will further bring about peace and unity is what we all should promote, not just zoning. However, our interest is for youths across the country. In 2023 we want to see youths as majority of the would be 10th Assembly, our interest is also to see many youths as governors of many states and if possible our next president should even be a youth . This is possible, because the president sometime promised to handover to youth in 2023, so we urge him to see to it that a youth succeeds him in 2023.
Do you really think the youth can take charge in 2023?
If I don’t believe in our youth I won’t be occupying this position, if I don’t believe in the intellectual capacity of our youth to take Nigeria to the promise land I won’t dwell much on it like am doing, right? After President Muhammadu Buhari, our next President is going to be a youth and after the term of most of the states governors, our youth will democratically take over the affairs of most states. We are aware they are planning, but we are also not sleeping. We are going to continue to work and work, to ensure that young Nigerians with the capability to lead occupy most elective positions in Nigeria for meaningful development. Presidency, governorship, 2023 is the year for the Nigerian youths.
What is your advice to the youth?
My advice to them is they should use their time well because time waits for no one. They should engage in things that will enable them grow, they should also love their neighbor and be good ambassador of Nigeria any where they find themselves. Like the saying goes, no place like home. We should all continue to support our leaders and pray for Nigeria.