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Squeeze older politicians out of office, Obasanjo tells youths

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday asked African youths to take over leadership positions by “squeezing older generation out of office.” He said unless older politicians are forced out, they would continue to perpetuate themselves in power. Obasanjo spoke yesterday while delivering a keynote address at a virtual interactive session held to mark this year’s International Youth Day. The programme was organized by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta. Participants at the meeting were drawn from Nigeria, Mali, USA, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

The former president told youths to demand affirmative action enshrined in the constitutions of political parties, as part of a gradual process to phase out the old generation of leaders in the African continent. “Unless you squeeze out those who are in 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. Obasanjo noted that youths could influence change by participating actively in the activities of various political parties. According to him, it is easier to influence changes at the party level rather than governmental level. He 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 youths.

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 office 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.”

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