By John- Bull Alexander
As a staunch member of the National Youth Council of Nigeria NYCN) the Presidency’s linkage of the sudden decision to relieve Barrister Inuwa Abdulkadir, Esq. of his appointment as Minister of Youth Development with the elections of the NYCN was as shocking as the decision itself was to the generality of Nigerians. I am sure I speak the minds of a majority of members of the NYCN when I submit that there has been no basis for the Jonathan Administration, or any administration for that matter, to meddle in the affairs of the NYCN because, unlike the NYSC, the Council is neither a parastatal of the Federal Government, nor an adjunct to the Presidency. Therefore, fellow Nigerians, I am sure will be curious to know why the Jonathan Administration was so concerned about the elections of the NYCN that its Minister of Youth Development lost his job for “mishandling of the NYCN elections in Makurdi and Minna”, according to presidential spokesman Reuben Abati
I wish to draw the attention of the general public to the fact that the NYCN is a non-governmental national organization that has served as the umbrella body for all youth-based organizations in Nigeria and carried out its functions as such since inception without direct involvement of the Federal Government in its affairs. We members have always regarded our organization as being similar in status to other youth organizations such as the Scouts Movement and the Boys Brigade which are also non-governmental organizations n the youth sector.
To be candid, it was under the Jonathan Administration that we members began to witness the peculiar government interest in the affairs of the Youth Council and this predated the appointment of Inuwa Abdulkadir as Youth Minister in 2012. This government’s interest in the affairs of the NYCN dates back to the 2011 fuel subsidy crisis when it found it expedient to recruit the NYCN for its rent-a-crowd pro-government demonstrations to counter the mass anti-government protests. In the fall out of this unholy alliance with the youth body the Jonathan Administration became more fixated on the leadership of the organization. This interest was pursued by government applying pressure to replace the Ajani-led executive of the NYCN by insisting on the enforcement of the upper age-bracket of youth at 35 years as provided in the National Youth Policy, which we all saw as a tactical disqualification of the then NYCN president.
Fellow NYCN members were however convinced on this ulterior motive of the Jonathan Administration in the run-up to the NYCN elections earlier this year. In keeping to the non-governmental status of the NYCN, one would not have expected its elections to warrant the subterranean government pressure that moved the venue from Ondo to Makurdi and then saw the physical presence of the former youth minister Inuwa Abdulkadir in Makurdi for the duration of the elections.
At this juncture it is pertinent to refer to the Reuben Abati statement supposedly issued to debunk widespread public and media speculation that Inuwa Abdulkadir’s removal was indeed directly linked to the aftermath of the NYCN elections, particularly where he said it was Abdulkadir’s “regrettable deviation from the presidential commitment in the management of the NYCN elections” that led to the decision to relieve him of his appointment as Minister of Youth Development. And the question begging for an answer is why there should be such a presidential commitment to manage the elections of the NYCN expressed by assigning the youth minister to the venue, apart from earlier maneuvering the venue from Ondo to Makurdi for obvious political reasons.
While Nigerians ponder over these revealing scenarios, it is worthwhile to also draw attention to the instructive fact that the NYCN President who emerged from the Makurdi election that earned presidential commitment was none other than Mr Yakubu Shendam, who just happens to be Special Assistant to, wait for it, PDP National Chairman Bamanga Tukur ! These very interesting incidental issues contrast sharply with President Jonathan’s avowed disinterest in the conduct and outcome of the NYCN elections.
We members of the NYCN have also been wondering why the president’s displeasure was not expressed or demonstrated in the heat of the post-election furor sparked by outraged members who were vehement in their rejection of that very same presidential managerial commitment to the NYCN election in Makurdi until immediately after the Minna election where, as widely reported in the media, the Makurdi president was defeated by Abdulmajeed, reputed to be favoured by Governor Babangida Aliyu of G5 notoriety who hosted the second election.
Even more curious is the fact that all three presidential special assistants on youth affairs were hurriedly dispatched to Minna when it dawned that the election would be held despite pendency of the election matter in a court restraining such infraction, as a result of which the former minister stayed away to attend the NBA confab in Calabar instead. Now the supervising minister posted to the youth development ministry, Bolaji Abdullahi, under whose first tenure NYCN was dragged into pro-government subsidy protests, is threatening to “scrap NYCN” in reaction to the on-going power struggle in the leadership of the body in which government is an interested party.
Whatever lies behind the undue presidential interest in managing the NYCN elections let it be said clearly that this interest is misconceived and misapplied. For if indeed President Goodluck Jonathan is ” is sincerely committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the Nigerian youth, are given the best possible upbringing and orientation” , he should have demonstrated this by remedying the appallingly low priority accorded youth development and the crippling under-funding of the ministry, worsened by wanton misplacement and outright hijacking of several youth empowerment projects by other ministries, departments and agencies.
Although Nigerian youth constitute almost 60 % of the population and are unquestionably the nation’s future, the entire youth development budget under the ministry is in the bottom league of the federal government budget and world rating! The President should see the plight of youth who are the true leaders of tomorrow as deserving greater attention and priority. So we youths are not deceived at all by the hollow theatrics of removal of the Youth Minister Inuwa Abdulkadir, which we know is least connected to our prosperous future or best possible upbringing and orientation. President Goodluck Jonathan’s genuine commitment to the management of elections at all levels should have been applied at the PDP convention just concluded with calamitous consequences on his political career and presidential tenure beyond 2015. There is more than meets the eye in the removal of the minister and the last is yet to be heard.
John-Bull Alexander is a Youth Activist In Yenagoa
By John- Bull Alexander