Khaleel Ibrahim Aliyu, a Minna-based lawyer and youth activist, speaks to AWAAL GATA on why youths should be made the leaders of the country. He also speaks on his intention to contest for a seat at the Niger state House of Assembly in the next election.
Who is khaleel Ibrahim Aliyu?
I am a youth and human rights activist from Niger state. I am also a lawyer; people mostly call me Young Barrister. I am from Paikoro Local Government Area of the state.
To you, what is the place of youths in the scheme of things in Nigeria?
Nigerian youths don’t have any place in the scheme of things in the country. They are not being given the opportunity to showcase their worth; how then would new knowledge emerge, or is it that the country is not innovation-friendly? To me, the youths constitute only ten percent in every organisation in this country, only paltry ten percent. Our chances are occupied by the people who should have retired to their villages and resting with their people. Our chances are being occupied by old stagnant politicians. Our chances are taken over by gerontocrats who think that the youths have nothing to offer; they perpetrate themselves on power, paving ways for their children, leaving the greater population vulnerable. It is really a pitiable circumstance in this damnable country of ours.
As a schoolboy, I recall, there was a song of children being the leaders of tomorrow. The song urged us to study well for readers become leaders; after all academic perseverance, eventually an average Nigerian youth graduate onto the street, onto a pitiable life without a job, making the song a deceit.
What should the government do to curb the problem?
It is simple; everybody knows what should be done. I don’t need to say it, but since maybe ignorance is the cause of the problem let me say it; our government should give the youths the oppourtunity to showcase their worth. We have plethora of young Nigerians whose only problem is lack of platform. Let them be given platform. Our government should come up with policies that would give the youths jobs. Our government should purge the gerontocrats in the system and give the youth a level playing field. Our government should put an end to corruption and all that social sins dragging us aground, and we would see transformational change like a blink of an eye.
Do you subscribe to the ideology that the youth should be involved in the leadership of the country?
Of course I do. That is what I am saying since. I am strongly of the view that youths should be made the leaders of this country. If these are done, things would definitely change. My view is triggered by the fact that most policies always have per incurian effect on them, for example the recent ban on Okada in Minna; who are the people suffering it more? However, it created hardship not only for the youths or the riders but the state at large because 75% of the citizens source their living through okada business. State government failed to consider the nature of the state before dishing out the policy. Minna is a civil service state; no industries or any form of lucrative business that will replace the banned of okada business. The state is currently in economic quagmire, daunting poverty, concomitant frustration and loss of confidence in the government, in fact Niger state has never encountered bad government like the one we are presently having. The state has been dubbed the most peaceful state in the country; if we are not careful, the very peace we all have been enjoying would end at the backdrop of the ban.
As an activist, how do you want to intervene?
I have got this understanding that if good laws are made, things will change for good. So, no matter what, our people, even though the grinding poverty has somewhat disenfranchised them, should vote the best of men into the legislative arm of government. With them on ground, the executives who drag us from brink to brink because of their greed would be pressured into doing what is right. So, I want to try my hands at the legislative arm of government. I believe and the people of my constituency believe that I could make a great impact there.
Why having such belief?
It is high time youths become the leaders of this country. That will spawn transformational change. That is my unflinching ideology; you know, since it is an ideology I immensely subscribe to, it has to start with me, hence my mission to contest into the State Assembly in the next election. Youths in my constituency are living in the shadows of their real selves; if I become their representative, I would put an end to that. My local government, Paikoro, is littered with old politicians who don’t know the pains of their people. If they were progressive minded people, they would have created oppourtunity for the youngsters in order to safeguard their future. By God, our emergence will put an end to that.
What lacuna have you seen in the Assembly that you want to go and change?
I have seen many of them even though I have never been there. First of all, many a representative in the Assembly doesn’t know the reason why he is there. Many a representative just understands that there are monetary packages there, hence struggled to become a representative. As a representative, he would go around in his air-conditioned car, live his life with many aides at his beck and call and a lot of money in his cache. What about the statutory responsibilities that he ought to discharge? He doesn’t even know them not to talk of discharging them. At the backdrop of this, the executives have free hands to perpetrate all sort of dastardly acts against the people, because they are not being checked. We want to go and change the trend. Growth and development depend largely on the lawmakers but that is not the reality in Nigeria.
How should the socio-political and economic problems of Nigeria be solved?
The youths of this country are very intelligent. They have been breaking frontiers. No, they should be given oppourtunities to showcase their worth. Our leaders should lead us with transparency and accountability. Let us pave ways for new thinkers; their thoughts might spawn that Promise Land that we have been looking for and continually eluding us. We say we are practicing democracy; let us eschew quasi-democracy and pseudo-democracy and practice the real one. To the masses, let us not allow anybody to disenfranchise us; let us make our votes our arms. Let our votes be the boats that would ferry us to the Promised Land.