Nigeria’s general elections coming in 2023 present vast opportunities for youths to learn and earn, Dr. Haggai Gutap, the Technical Administrative Head of COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) in Plateau State has said.
Rather than dissipate energy discussing the ethnicity and religious faiths of candidates contesting the elections, youths could become wealthy seeking and utilizing business and economic opportunities in the political process, Gutap who holds a Doctoral degree in Development Economics told our correspondent in his office in Jos.
“As Nigerians, we need to focus on [creative thinking] that will lead us to getting out of most of the challenges we are facing,” Gutap said.
“Discussing religion and ethnicity will not take us anywhere. When there is massive poverty and unemployment, no one particular ethnic group or religious faith is affected. Everybody is affected,” he said.
The first step to wealth creation through the political process according to Gutap is to get involved.
“Politics and the economy work hand in hand. Because if there is bad leadership, certainly you’ll have bad policies. And at the end of the day it has a spiral effect on the economy whereby poverty will be there, unemployment which heavily impacts on the youths,” he said.
“By now every youth is supposed to have gotten his voter’s card which is one of the cardinal prerequisites to entrenching good leadership and building the society.
“Once we are able to get that, let’s participate in the process that will lead to bringing a government in place. Over the years we only see youths ranting on social media that we don’t like this or that but when it comes to the political process, they look at politics as a game for the elderly which must be changed.
“Right from the party structure, down to campaigns and all what not, if youths are not involved, can you influence anything? Our talk will just remain on the face. But if you’re part of the process, you’ll be able to contribute to the process of selecting good leaders,” he added.
The next step is to learn through mentorship, Gutap noted.
In his words; “Development can come only through purposeful learning. There are a lot of things we need to imbibe as youths. You cannot become a star without having mentors. Mentorship is very important. We have mentors you learn from afar, others have those they relate directly with. I have surrounded myself with successful people. Some of them I don’t know. I have to find a way of meeting with them. Sometimes I have to offer free services just to have a particular skill set.
“The truth is the power is in the hands of the elderly and if you’re stubborn or trying to wrestle with them, they have a way of stampeding you out. They will not teach you what it takes to take it. So you need to be humble and courageous and also persevere.
“We have a lot of challenges but sometimes the best way to learn is the diplomatic way. You cannot always win a war by provocation. Sometimes, you blend in and strike your way through to the top where you can make independent decisions.”
The last and important step is to analyze political candidates by their pedigrees and capabilities, he said.
He said: “Youths should be able to engage all the candidates that are seeking for these elections right from the federal down to local governments. They should really x-ray their policies and programs, and x-ray the antecedents of all the aspirants and see what has been their track record over the years and that will enable you to make a projection about what to expect of each leader.
“What we should be focused on at this point is the policies and programs of each of the candidates. Like I said, the insecurity, poverty and other challenges we are facing are not selecting any tribe or religion. They affect all Nigerians. So we should work towards building a strong economy irrespective of tribe or religion.
“If you go to US or UK, the focus of every candidate is the economic policies regardless of a candidate’s religion. They don’t care if you’re a pagan. Just fix their country that’s all they care.”