Onogwu Muhammed, Bello’s chief press secretary, in a statement released Friday in Abuja, said the governor made this known while speaking at the National Youth Summit / Book Launch in Abuja.
Muhammed said that Bello was represented by his chief of staff, Jamiu Asuku, at the event titled “It is time for youth in Nigeria.”
Bello in his speech told young people that even though they represent the largest demographic of the country’s population, their numbers would not count if they refused to actively participate in politics and the 2023 general elections.
“Young Nigerians no longer have an excuse not to assume leadership of the nation considering the exploits of some young Nigerians in all sectors of the nation’s economy.
“Nigeria is waiting for young people to guide the country towards the dreams of its founding fathers because those who gave their lives for the formation of this nation did so in their youth.
“The youth no longer have an excuse for not taking the initiative. We are not only young, we are helpful and determined. This is the time for you to mobilize and start advocating for youth participation in governance.
“Most of those sitting here are in their 30s. At age 32, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) was already Head of State. He fought in the civil war just for the survival of Nigeria as an indivisible and united entity.
“General Murtala was also quite young when he became Head of State and he also made significant contributions to the development of our beloved state.
“Young people must begin to see themselves as critical actors whose time has come to assume leadership of this country.
“Achieving this will continue to be a difficult task if the new ‘Youth O’clock’ song ends up on your lips without a concerted effort and commitment to participate in politics and electoral processes in this country,” said Bello.
Bello said his political life had been a chronicle of doing what people said could not be done, when he threw his hat into the ring as a young Nigerian to run for governor of Kogi in 2015.
“A lot of people saw me as a joker and a lot of people thought it was impossible; some called me a stranger because I didn’t have a sponsor, “he added.
He said his legacies and achievements in office shouldn’t be difficult for anyone to record.
According to him, the clamor for the takeover of leadership by young people will be encouraged and fueled by the excellent performance of those already in the corridors of power.
He urged young Nigerians who are already leading to promote themselves, publicize their work, performance history and achievements.
“In the same way, when we think of 2023, the question of Nigeria’s next leadership, I can challenge you to deploy your considerable clerical resources and influence to create the Nigeria of our dreams.
“The Youth O’clock song must be heard in all corners of this country, it is a defense that youth must take to all corners of this great nation,” he said.
He said that political leadership was based on organization and alliance and praised the Nigerian Youth Council for realizing that ‘Youth Hour’ was actually the time for the youth of this country to prepare for the leadership.
Bello said that being a member of a political party is not enough, however, and urged young people to make themselves visible by having structures across the country.
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