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Nigeria: Join Politics to Make The Changes You Want – Osinbajo to Young Nigerians


“African nations, and our country in particular, cannot afford to have the best of their heads, and the most committed social activists only stay in civil society.”

The path to transform society depends largely on the actions and decisions of those who hold public office. That is why young people in Nigeria have to get involved in politics, said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Mr. Osinbajo said on a virtual forum this Wednesday where he interacted with Nigerian Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. The interaction included a question and answer session in which the Vice President was asked questions about education, health and youth engagement.

According to the VP, “if you are not already involved, you have to go the extra time to get involved in politics – while much can be achieved in civil society, the government still has the trump card in terms of capacity and resources to deal with social issues To bring commitment “. Goods in the largest quantities.

“In addition, there are very different positions of being decision-makers instead of interest groups at the table when formulating politics. The realization of our great ideas for transforming our societies will ultimately depend on “these politicians”, as we sometimes mockingly describe them. “

The Vice-President said: “African nations, and our country in particular, cannot afford to have their best minds, and the most committed social activists only stay in civil society. No, we simply cannot afford that, you have to go into them Interfere with politics. ” . You have to be able to make the difference on the required scale. “

“Of course there are many who will not get involved in politics, but there are those who are inclined, and there will be many challenges in making politics or being heard in politics. But I want to tell you that it should be a goal “that you should set yourself to get involved at every level of policy so that you can make the difference to the extent necessary,” added Mr Osinbajo.

The Vice President continued on about the potential of young Nigerians to bring about the desired change in their communities, describing the efforts of young African innovators as “Africa’s most exciting story – the story of a present and a future that could be controlled by the incredibly talented people of our continent.” . and optimistic young men and women. “

Praising the fellows’ innovation and creativity, Osinbajo said, “In any generation, few take up this challenge wholeheartedly – the challenge of building a society. Most believe that the task is someone else’s and that such efforts cannot pay the bills. “.”

Recalling his days in civil society and later politics as the Lagos Attorney General, the vice president noted that “it took public office to achieve the scale of the changes needed to make a difference.”

His words: “Without a public position I would have remained an advocacy activist, I would have done some nice things, but I would not have been able to make the changes my country required.

“I was once where you were. I was part of several civil society groups at the time. I joined the first civil society group when I was 24, when I was teaching. Integrity and then Convention on Business Integrity (which still exists today and operates from Abuja and Lagos).

“I was chairman of the Legal Research and Development Center, where we worked on civil rights issues and legal defense for the poor.

He added, “If I count the numbers we’ve made over the years, it might be a hundred or so. We have achieved quite a bit, but it was a little compared to the scale of the problem.

“But politics came in 1999 and I was appointed Attorney General of Lagos. With this platform, we have addressed the corruption in the Lagos judiciary and created a model of reward for discipline and we have been able to create a multi-year anti-corruption framework.

“The reason I make this point is because, after what we did in Lagos, other states have copied this very example. So many states have improved pay and a variety of things.”

Mr. Osinbajo continued: “The second thing we did in Lagos at the time was to set up the civil rights department. For the first time in our country’s history, a Citizens’ Rights Department has been set up in the Ministry of Justice.

“That was important because the Ministry of Justice is not just a Ministry of Law and Order, but a Ministry of Justice for the people. And that department had what was called the public defender’s office, and that was a concept that we adopted. ”From some US states and we were able to defend ourselves legally, the government provided funding for thousands of Lagosians.

“But the more interesting part of this story is that almost every state in Nigeria has introduced the civil rights division and the public defender’s office. where we tried to work on legal defense. We did a few, but we certainly couldn’t reach the extent that we did in the public service. “

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In response to concerns about the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test, the VP said relevant government departments and agencies were working to make things easier for Nigerians.

He said, “As an English-speaking country, we should benefit from some concessions rather than being forced to take the same test every two years, especially if you’ve passed it before.”

The fellowship is the flagship program of the US government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Since 2014, almost 5,100 young leaders from all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have taken part in the fellowship.

In addition to the Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, and the President’s Special Advisor on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, also attended the meeting.

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President for Media and Advertising


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