118 young people representing different groups have criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s exclusion of youths from his list of 21 ministerial nominees.
The group wrote a statement titled “We are back on this road again”. They said their reaction to the president’s choices was that of shock because there is “no single representation of young people who were born in the 70’s or the 80’s” in #TheList.
“We did not expect that President Muhammadu Buhari’s list of 21 Ministers, which came after a long six months wait will not have a single youth’s name on it especially when he was the Federal Commissioner – the equivalent of a minister today – for Petroleum and Natural Resources in 1976 at the age of 34. Curiously, the president seeks to retain the portfolio 39 years after. We hold no grudge against him for this decision as long as Nigeria is better for it. We assumed the long wait for the list was also in part due to the president’s search for capable hands.
“Our definition of youth is in tandem with that provided by the African Youth Charter, which was ratified by the African Union Heads of State and Government, which numerically classifies them as those between the age of 15 and 35. We are further taken aback by the presidency’s seeming dismissal to this demography especially given the roles several of them played towards the actualization of the President Muhammadu Buhari and his party’s political dream of getting into office through democratic means.
“The president’s body language and leadership in this regard does not mean well especially because state governments will quickly learn from this and also shut out young people from representative governance in the states. Beyond the ministerial list, we are also quick to note that there has not been anybody below the age of 35 that has been appointed to be part of the president’s team thus far.
“There are evidences that shows Nigeria parades some of the finest youth on the continent, who can hold their own any where in the world. We are forced to ask – is it that the country’s investment in young people is just a routine process and our country’s leadership does not believe in the capacity of this demography to lead?
“It took six months to release this list of 21. We understand that constitutionally, the president is obliged to mark up the figures to 36. We therefore hope this mistake will be corrected; and quickly.”
The group were also shocked about the absence of many women on the list.
“Women, despite being about half of the Nigerian population have also been poorly represented with just a meager 14% representation on the ministerial list. The median age of the current list is 56. The presidency can choose to correct this wrong by appointing young women into the Federal Executive Council, as this will serve dual purpose of women and youth representation. It is wrong for any government to make decisions for a group in their absence, especially when they are keen to participate. What the president is saying thus far with its appointment is that he has no confidence in today’s youth even when the same country gave him the opportunity to grow into leadership at an early age. Nigerian youth have earned the right to a space in the leadership of this country and we hope the presidency will listen and do the needful. When we are not given the opportunity to lead today, we are simply being denied of the experience needed to lead properly when that elusive future finally comes.”