Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African youths to take an active part in political activities in their various countries, so as to flush out older generation from office. Obasanjo, who made the call while delivering a keynote address at an interactive session held virtually to mark this year’s International Youth Day, organized by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, enjoined them to take over leadership positions by “squeezing older generation out of office.”
He asked them to demand affirmative action enshrined in the constitution of political parties, as part of a gradual process to phase out the old generation of leaders in the continent. According to him, unless the leaders are forced out of the stage, they would continue to occupy the leadership positions. “Unless you squeeze out those who are in the office and those who want to remain in office perpetually, some after the age of 80. Unless you squeeze them out they will not want to be out,” he said.
The former President also told the youths that they could influence the change by participating actively in political parties. He submitted that it is easier to influence changes at the party level rather than governance level. Obasanjo said “The type of change I am talking about, that I believe we can all embark upon is to subscribe into the constitution of political parties in favour of youth. Or if you like it you call it affirmative action in favour of youths.
For instance, if you say, in the constitution of a political party, not less than 50 per cent of those who hold executive office within the party will be less than 40 years of age. “You’re just making sure that people that are 40 years of age will hold 50 per cent of executive offices within the political party. “You can even go beyond that and say that people who will be put up for election, not less than 50 per cent of them, will be less than 40 years of age. That’s affirmative action. That’s positive discrimination in favour of youths. “I am saying this because if you leave it entirely for people to do it for you, nobody will do it for you. You have to do it for yourself.”
Participants of the interactive session were drawn from Nigeria, Mali, USA, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.