By Taiye Agbaje
As 2023 general elections draw near, some Nigerians in Diaspora have called on the youths to refrain from vote buying and explore the strength of togetherness in electing leaders of their choice.
They spoke during a 2nd edition of the Virtual Youth Summit organised by the Nigerian Diaspora Organisation Americas (NIDOA) in junction with the Nigeria Diaspora Network (NDN) and monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Saturday night.
NAN reports that the summit, organised by NIDOA and NDN, was titled: “The Future of Nigeria: Your Vote and Your Right.”
The groups are non-political organisations, working to ensure the development of Nigeria at home and abroad.
Speaking, Dr Nelson Aluya, Chairman, Nigerian American Public Affairs Committee, USA (NAPAC USA), said Nigerian youths need to connect with one another because power is most effective when concentrated.
According to him, your vote, obviously, is your strength.
“And the votes that you come together to cast will determine eventually who leads you.
“You and I have to get it done,” he said.
Aluya, who is s also the Immediate-past president of New Jersey Medical Association (NJMA), said it was time Nigerian youths begin to talk together to carve a new future for the country.
He said though leadership is paramount in every politics, leadership does not only referred to the man at the helm of affairs alone.
“As long as you make decisions that affect other people’s lives, you are a leader.
“So, we must begin to look at Nigeria in that respect; everybody has a role to play.
“We must connect these individual leaders and pull resources together so that we can move forward and have a definite objective, achievable goal for our future,” he said.
Aluya, a medical doctor with specialisation in pediatrics and internal medicine, also said that every politics is local.
“How many of us know who the mayors or counsellors are? We must begin to know the basics,” he said.
According to him, if you must change power, you have to get close to power
“And how do we begin to do that? By getting involve in the process,” he added.
He emphasised the need to be involved in grassroots politics.
“Even as we come together to learn to cast our votes, we should begin to build our structure, identify those young ones right now who are untainted, who are not corrupted yet into sponsoring them even to higher levels, to a point where they can begin to run for House of Representatives, Governorship polls and hopefully in the future, run for the Senate and even the president,” he said.
A co-host of the event and a member of NIDOA, Saheed Adeleye, said collaborative experience is needed to redeem the country.
“We in the Diaspora are passionate about our country, yes, but without us collaborating with folks on ground, we will not be able to achieve the prideful recognition of Nigeria that we all desired,” he said.
Corroborating Adeleye’s statement, another co-host and a member of NDN, Deji Adebayo, said there is the need for the youth to talk less and start acting.
“How can we improve on our collective network
“It is okay to actually say we want to take over the country, rebranding or recreating the future of Nigeria but we must be realistic of where we are currently and devise the roadmap that will eventually lead us to arrive at the destination that we desired,” he said.
Miss Kemi Roland, the chief executive officer of IIIimite Access, called on the eligible young voters to desist from vote buying.
She said that the act had done more evil than good in the country’s political system.
Miss Roland described the issue of vote buying as “an hydra-headed problem and a vicious circle.”
According to her, it is the citizens themselves that can decide to liberate themselves, by saying enough is enough.
“Many of the politicians spend money, give voters money to get into office.
“And of course, anybody spending money to get into office, sees it as an investment that must be recouped.
“Therefore, every single time voters collect money from a politician, it means they are mortgaging their future.”
Roland, who ccntested for a House of Assembly seat in 2019 in Kogi but lost at the primaries, said voters need to be continuously educated on the need to refrain from vote buying.
“So we need to continue to educate voters that they are the ones that can break this vicious cycle,” she said.
Mr Abdulrahman Bapullo, Chairman, Nigerian Youth Congress, Adamawa, also frowned at the increasing rate of vote buying in the country’s electioneering process.
Bapullo also expressed concern about the negative effect of money politics in Nigerian democracy.
He recalled he was a victim of money politics and godfatherism when he vied for a seat in the Adamawa State House of Assembly election in 2019 but could not get the ticket.
He said to fight against money politics, people with good intention about Nigeria must be ready to get involved in the political process.
“And you cannot get in the political process without having the platform which is the political parties.
“But our problem in Nigeria today is the party system, and internal democracy is one of our major problems,” Bapullo said.
According to him, we have a lot of young people that are very intelligent, who have very practical solutions, but the election is going to be very difficult for them because there is money politics and godfatherism in the system.
A legal practitioner, Mrs Kesi Seun-Adedamola, however, called on the youths to be active in politics for better development.
“We need to talk less and do more; we have to demand for what we want, not just interacting on twitter,” she said.
According to Seun-Adedamola, reality is different from what we talk about on twitter.
“Every change was done by people that demanded for more,” she added.
She said the youths need to know their unique selling point as a generation.
The Chairman, NIDOA/NDN Planning Committee, Mr Sam Atolaiye, said the essence of the summit was to bring all Nigerian youths together, motivate them, get them involved and give them a sense of direction to drive transformational impact and positive change in the country.
“Let us ensure we vote right. Let us ask politicians questions on how they want to change things for better and how these will be done.
“Let us vote based on their ( the politicians’) credibility and not on the amount of money they have,” he said.
Vice Chairman of NIDOA/NDN Planning Committee, Mr Ben Nwachukwu, said the summit was also organised to inspire the youth to serve their communities by creating a platform for their voices to be heard.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)