👤 By Adenike Lucas, DENISAURUS News
We have all heard that popular saying: “it is our turn.” In fact, in the political scene from Lagos to Oyo, Calabar, Enugu, Abuja, Kwara, or Kaduna, you would often hear ambitious youths say something like “it is time for us to take over the leadership of Nigeria from these old leaders.”
Well, recent elections that produced Seyi Makinde – the Governor of Oyo State, who in turn appointed a 27-year-old Commissioner, might be an indication of a paradigm shift in the Nigerian political space.
Indeed, the same election that brought in Governor Makinde – also produced a 32- year-old Debo Ogundoyin (Oyo), 33-year-old Abok Izam (Jos) and 34-year-old Yakubu Danladi (Kwara) as Speaker of their State House of Assembly, showing that young people really can dislodge old veterans from office.
Their achievements will no doubt spurr on other young people to action, and many more might seek for elective posts in Nigeria, but this fight for power will not be easy.
According to Kikiowo Ileowo, a former Head of Communications and Strategy in the State of Osun, “power is not served a la carte (without a struggle).”
Mr Ileowo, who himself was quoting a statement made by a leading chieftain of his All Progressives Congress, APC party, told DENISAURUS News, that “nobody will call you and give you power.”
Citing the case of Hong Kong, where the youth have removed a Communist government that had been in power since 1997, Mr Ileowo said: “For us, young people we must come together to take power or seize power.”
“Nobody will hand over power. ”
Asked if the APC has measures in place, that could help young people who are tired of the old guards and now want to do things themselves, Mr Ileowo replied saying, “the party can not do anything more than it is already doing to hand over power. We has youths need to come together. We have to organise and offer purposeful leadership.”
He said: “Until we all come together and stop bickering over mundane things. If you go over to social media, what are people talking about. People are talking about Naira Marley and Soapy. Things that don’t really count.”
Though he supports youths struggle for power, he himself in his 30s, conceded that purposeful leadership is not about age.
“Sometimes, you can not compare a youth to an older person because the experience they have gathered over the years is something that a young person can only read about in the books. So for me, it is all about offering purposeful leadership and quality leadership and not just about age.”
The concept of “quality leadership” led to the question of the state of the nation and how Nigeria is fearing now.
Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world. Under President Muhammadu Buhari, Africa’s most populated nation over took India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, but Mr Ileowo believes the APC-Government has not done badly.
“The APC made a lot of promises, but by the time we got into government, we found out that the country was empty. They (Peoples Democratic Party, PDP) had looted the entire place. We found out that there was no money to prosecute most of these projects (or rather most of these promises). and we had to start cutting back and reducing the cost of governance.”
Speaking further, he explained that “the challenges are quite ernomous, we inherited a government that was heading for the destruction of our country and I just want to thank the people of Nigeria and thank God, for allowing us rescue our country from the hands of pillagers, those who had vowed that they were going to destroy our country.
“If you have a three storey building, you can bring a caterpillar here and in the next one hour, you will flatten that edifice, but to build that edifice you just destroyed, it will take you years to prefect what you have just destroyed.
“Even if you want to bring hundreds of people, it is not something they can rebuild in a day. Because number one, they have to lay the foundation, after laying the foundation, they have to put up the block and then do the decking.
“Even if they do the decking today, you can not start building today, because you have to wait for it to dry off. what am I trying to say, is that we had experienced a sudden level of bastardisation of our good process.”
In other words, Mr Ileowo ultimately wants the Nigerian people to know that his party is working, albeit the process might be slow.
He said things have improved from before. “There was a time when they were gun men and killers on a roll, around the country, but all that has changed because there is a new guard.”
Mr Ileowo worked with Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola – the former Governor of the State of Osun, who is now the Minister of Interior.
Although, he notes that the minister is doing well, he made good efforts to make it known that he was speaking in a personal capacity.
Mr Ileowo speaks, for example about the reform to the Interior Ministry and the supportive work it is doing with the Ministry of Justice – which is superintended by Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN.
“There is the prisons and the correction reform. The name has now changed through the signing of the new Act from the Nigerian Prison Service to the Nigerian Correctional Service.
“What that has done, is that it has got about a new faculty in the service and a non-custodial service, where people who are convicted don’t necessarily have to go to a correction centre, they can serve their sentence outside the correctional facilities.
“There is now a parole board – where people are found worthy and of good behaviour, they can do community service and can serve their sentence at home, with a device around their necks so that they leave those (correctional) facilities.”
Things are changing for the better, he insists and “Nigerians can see it. That vote earlier this year, was indication that we have the support of the people,” he stated.
Politics, it seem is a topic Mr Ileowo loves discussing no doubt, but for the benefit of our readers, it was good to ask him about other aspects of his daily life.
He wakes up at 5am – and sometimes has to hold meeting tills late in the evenings. He loves writing, but how does he manage to juggle all these with his young family?
“I seem to have married the most understanding woman on the face of the earth,” he said: “On the home front she is able to cover for me, take care of the family for me. Instruct our family, the way we have intended to raise them and I really praise God and thank him for that.
But, “every thing in life requires balance, so, I still make time to go hang out with friends, spend time with family. But writing is something I enjoy doing, I could be in the car and I would bring my devise out and start typing as inspired.”
Sensing that we had spoken for almost thirty-five minutes, when I had vowed to take only thirty minutes of his time, I quickly asked about the provocative Social Media and Hate Speech Bill.
“The Executive arm of government has not proposed an hate speech bill or social media bill,” Mr Ileowo said. “The Legislative arm has not proposed the bill, but a member of the senate proposed those bills. They are a private member bill – and I most say that personally, I don’t support the Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill (Social media Bill) because there are measures already in place to deal with such matters.
The plans to introduce this bill will affect our freedom of speech. It will affect the party too. In this sense, the party that rode in on the back of social media apps like Whats App, Twitter and Facebook, could loose out, if it tries to restraint people from on how it uses a tool that helps it get important information to voters it seeks to engage.
The principle of self censor appeals more to Mr Ileowo, who by this time in our conversation, was about to head out of the office.
The notion that one could spend N30 to buy a plate of balanced meal baffled me – and I put Mr Ileowo who is based in Abuja to the test. What can you buy for N30, I asked him?
A savvy comms person that he is, “he replied that it can buy you what you want it to buy.”
Not satisfied with his answer, I pushed for more and so he said: “N30 can buy a lot of things.”
“Literally, I can buy sweets.. cookies,” he said. “It depends on the quality of food you are looking for.”
We ended the interview with a laugh “you cannot buy a balanced meal for N30,” I insisted. But, Mr Ileowo remained defiant, he said we must compare like for like.
“Where in the world can we buy a meal of N30?” and we both smiled.