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To build a lasting foundation for Nigeria’s economic prosperity, security and sustainable Democracy, we’ll have to first organize around the core challenges facing the Nigerian Youth; this is because the Nigerian Youths constitute more than 65% of Nigeria’s 140million population. By acting together and enthroning sincere leadership, we can overcome the obstacles that for too long have prevented real change on the critical issues that affects the Nigerian Youths day in and day out. Now is the time to leave behind the status quo and build support for real solutions to ensure that the Nigerian Youth live a successful and fulfilled life.

The story of leadership governance since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999 has been a sad point of reference and the very reason the Nigerian Youths are in a sorry state. In spite of the human and material resources Nigeria is endowed with, the country is still walloping in miasma of hopelessness mainly due to corruption, greed, sentiment, avarice, nepotism, mutual suspicion and gross indiscipline among the leaders. As a result of these unfortunate situations which normally lead to one form of crisis or the other, the youths are always at the receiving end. A few weeks ago, I read an article written by the famous Chinua Achebe where he said as a youth in the 1960’s, his ‘generation has everything to look forward to.’ Today, at less than 30years and after 50years of independence, my generation has nothing to hope for! The situation is so pathetic that our Youths now adopt spurious survival strategy and engages in short-cuts as means of survival. This could explain the recent rise in the activities of political thugs, militants, kidnapers and arm robbers- societal ills associated with restive youths. It is the responsibility of government to engage and empower her citizens particularly the youths in self reliance and qualitative education. Sadly enough, the government of the day seems to give credence to militancy, political thuggry, electoral frauds and illiteracy, all of which are capable of degenerating into a bleak future and permanently killing the ambition of the Nigeria Youths.

Malam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau has the potential of becoming a truly different leader for us, something we have not seen in Nigerian politics since MKO Abiola ran for the presidency in 1993. Much like the late MKO Abiola, Shekarau possesses the ability to reach out and inspire a multitude of Nigerians from all walks of life. Shekarau’s promise of creating a more united and open Nigeria, one less chained to ethnic and religious segregation, has created optimism for the younger generation.

Malam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau, the Sardaunan Kano has been compared many a time with the Late Sardauna of Sokoto. However, Shekarau has tried to shy away from such a comparison but truth be told, his qualitative leadership style is reminiscent in so many ways the style of the late Premier of The Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto. Notwithstanding, Shekarau is a new breed of politician, he is a lightning spark in Nigeria’s new political dispensation, a new seed of trust to the Nigerian Youths. He is an icon of change to the younger generation and his candidacy symbolizes the audacity of change. Shekarau, the Presidential candidate of the ANPP in the 20011 election has seized this memento to heed to the clarion call by the Youths to serve his fatherland, he has the potential of rekindling the hopes and aspirations of Africa’s most populous and endowed nation. The entry of Malam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau into the Presidential race and his eventual rating as the best among the candidates in two debates have elated a lot of Nigerian Youths, some of us have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are beginning to truly believe that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain. Our beloved heroes such as, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Tafawa Balewa , Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Awolowo and rousing countless others who fought and died in the cause of keeping this nation as one can be reinvented with Malam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau as our candidate for peace in the April, 2011 elections.

The message of our heroes past that preached a unifying respect for all Nigerians and building a better Nigeria can be heard loud clear in Shekarau’s speech on the 5th of August, 2010, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. In a well attended World Press Conference, when he officially declared his aspiration to seek nomination as Presidential Candidate of All Nigerian People’s Party (ANPP). “In order to change our ways, we must work together to elect somebody committed to a common aspiration for a better future. We must support someone whose only motivation for running for president is to contribute to building a better Nigeria. That is the reason I am offering myself for that selfless service.”

The violence of isolation that so many of our youths experience in our day-to-day lives, out of joblessness, frustration and despair, can be addressed and confronted through a strong and dynamic leader like Ibrahim Shekarau. Our country has yet to know a candidate quite like him, particularly in terms of professional background and upbringing. As a man of uprightness, Shekarau passed through the normal channel in the civil service starting as a Class Room Teacher to Permanent Secretary. Having held most positions at a youthful age, Shekarau will evaluate the issues at hand differently than any other known candidate. An opponent of underdevelopment and insecurity from the beginning, Shekarau will drive hard in curtailing youth restiveness while maintaining internal peace and security just as he did in Kano State.

Shekarau’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any other candidate, he could take Nigeria-finally-past the debilitating, self-inflecting ethnic and religion riots era where our youths are being baited to die in vain without fulfilling their purpose in life. At its best, the Shekarau’s candidacy is about ending a war—not so much a war in a real sense of fighting external aggression—but a war within Nigeria; a war with ourselves, a war between ethnic groups, a war between different faiths, a war between neigbours, a war that does not make sense and has prevailed ever since and shows dangerous signs of intensifying and tearing this nation apart.

With his experience as a grassroots Politician and ability to unite people across religious and social lines, not to mention his time spent as National President of All Nigeria Conference Of Principals Of Secondary School (ANCOPPS) one organization in Nigeria whose values is deeply entrench in the grassroots, Shekarau is more capable of confronting conflict and political inflexibility than any other candidate. Recently, one blogger posted this comment on an internet site and it read: “one thing I know and must commend Shekarau for, is the success in combating religious and ethnic clashes that Kano state is notorious for. During his almost 8years as Governor, peace had relatively been achieved between natives and fellow Nigerians in the state, that alone is not an easy task given the history of such clashes in the past”

Taking into account how Youths are being lured by desperate politicians into sordid acts like political thuggery, militancy, electoral frauds, ethnic and religious mercenaries where the eventually meet their untimely death, it is therefore very imperative that Nigeria needs Shekarau to bring back peace and social harmony and especially saving the lives of the Nigerian Youths who are always casualties of recurrent crisis. Shekarau’s records in all spheres of human endeavour will speak for him on his suitability to lead the nation at this critical epoch of our history. His emergence as the winner of the two Presidential debates organised by NN24 and a coalition of youths groups tagged ‘what about us’, has revealed not only his better understanding of the Nigeria question or problems, but his sound intellectual capacity and more robust and workable plans for the country, especially as it concerns the youths. In his manifesto, Shekarau promised to avail a platform to fully engage and develop the Nigeria Youths. He represents for so many Nigerian Youths, the hope of a different Nigeria, one that is more tolerant, accepting, kind and thoughtful.

Our current times call for a leader that is radically different from that which is obtainable in the past, one courageous enough to pursue peace in a nation torn apart by greed, corruption, poverty, tribal and religious crisis. Without question, Malam Dr. Ibrahim Shekarau is that leader. He is the candidate who, if given the chance come April 9th, 2011, will refocus Nigeria in the direction of acceptance, patience and peace without which there will be no meaningful economic, political and social development.

Nwoke D. Cosmos is the National Coordinator, Shekarau Youth Vanguard. [email protected]

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