Former President Goodluck Jonathan has advised Nigerians, particularly aspiring young leaders, not to repeat the mistakes of the past, urging them to revolutionize a new paradigm shift in leadership and citizenship.
Jonathan, who gave the charge Tuesday in Yenagoa while receiving the New Nigeria 2019, NN-2019 group and the Young Professionals of Nigeria, YPN, led by Chima Nwafor and Moses Siasia, commended the youth groups for trying to chart a new course for the socio-political development of the country. Some of these mistakes, according to Jonathan, include mistakes of tribalism, nepotism and religion.
The former president, who described youths as the pillar of any society, stressed that anybody who means well for the society will not downplay the role of the youths, noting that the political history of the country is replete with youths who have played leadership positions and performed creditably well. He charged the youths not to make the fundamental mistakes of past leaders which included mistakes of tribalism, nepotism, and mistakes of religious intolerance.
He said: “I am happy that you cut across parts of the country, you are not here because you are Christians or Muslims, you are not here because you are from South-South, or from North-East, or North West or South West
“But you are here because you are Nigerian youths that are committed to a particular cause and you want to make an impact for a better society for us and the future.”
He identified himself with other leaders who had advocated for young people to be fully involved in leadership. Jonathan said further that he believed in the philosophy of late Maitama Sule “that the young breed without old breed will breed greed.”
“I think what he is saying is that both old and young people must come together.” He noted that there was a time young people played dominant roles in the nation’s politics.
“All the big historical names you hear; Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Sarduana of Sokoto, Michael Okpara, all of them got involved at very young age. Some of them were ministers in their twenties,” he said.
Jonathan noted that the situation was similar up to the time of the military heads of state, starting from Yakubu Gowon who was 32 and even Ibrahim Babangida and President Buhari who became heads of state as young men.
He added: “I am not envisioning a government that every actor will be below thirty-five years old, but I share the aspiration of those who want young people to be fully involved in governance. “I remember when Alfred Diette Spiff was the military governor of the then old Rivers State, most of the members of his cabinet were older than him and even referred to him as “my son,” but together they achieved much in infrastructure and human development.”
Jonathan stated that through out his political career from deputy governor to the presidency, he encouraged young people and women to play key roles in governance.
“Before I leave let me charge the young people in two areas; the young must reform the young for us to grow positively. At the same time most of the challenges we are having in the society; it is not that the young people created them, but they are being used negatively. We talk about cultism, hired killers, terror, kidnapping, the elderly cannot enter the bush to go and stay for days.
“A group like yours constituting of CEOs, how do you create platforms to re-orientate the thinking of our young people. I am glad that you mentioned setting up similar bodies, across the country. At least even if you start from the universities and secondary schools, to change the mindset of the youths. Youth movements like Boys Scout, Boys Brigade and Girls Guide, developed from this kind of thinking.
“The growth of society should not be marked by flashy cars, sky scrapers and beautiful roads but by the people, the way they think and the way they do things,” he said.
Earlier, the co-convener of NN-2019 and Moses Siasia, said the group of were consulting with elder statesmen all over the country to seek their blessings and support, and mobilizing young minds to advocate for democratic inclusion come 2019, stressing that they have taken up the challenge to participate actively in the democratic process.