Mr Wole Adedoyin is a versatile young man in his 30’s with interests that cut across party politics, computer science, writing and journalism. Expectedly, he wears many caps fittingly; he is the Chairman of Hope Democratic Party, Osun State Chapter, Chairman, Young Writers Association of Nigeria, Chairman, ICT Association of Nigeria, Osun Chapter. In this interview, he brings his experience to bear on critical issues dealing with the place of youths in Nigerian politics and leadership. Excerpts:
As a youthful leader of a political party, would you say with facts that Nigerian youths are prepared for politics these days?
I don’t think so. From my own point of view they are not ready. The main reason I said that is this: There is no formidable political platform established by them to express their individual political ideology. And the two political parties registered of recent by INEC, I mean the Young Democratic Party (YDP) and the Young Progressive Party (YPP) only uses that word “Young” to express the state of our politics and democracy not that the parties are meant for young people. Majority of people holding juicy positions in the parties are not young people. Some are in the forties and fifties. The parties are only young in terms of ideologies not that it was meant for young people but they will be telling you that they formed the party for the Nigerian youths.
In 2014, I participated in a program organized by UNDP, IPAC and DGD; there an organization known as Nigeria Interparty Youth and CSOs Forum was formed. Virtually all the youth leaders from all the registered political parties then participated and the executive committee members were inaugurated for the Forum. My brother, since that day of the inauguration we never heard anything from the Forum again. Remember that the Youth leaders of different political parties were appointed to steer the ship of the Forum. That was how the forum died a natural death.
What do you think about the recent bill on not too young to run in context and substance for the youths?
Firstly, I must commend the initiators of the Bill. It is really a good development considering the plight of age barrier faced by serious youths that wanted to venture into serious politics. But only the passing of the bill into law is not enough. We need the Youth in Politics Endowment Fund and the National Enforcement Committee that will enforce the stakeholders like INEC and Political Parties to implement the idea. Like I always tell my friends that youth party leadership in Nigeria are mere decorations. Those youths they called leaders in our different political parties are jobless. They are not given any job to do in their respective party. Some political parties have turned their youth leaders to errand boys during every meetings and conventions.
How do you see the youths who think the older ones should quit the scene to make it possible for them to start, grow and stay in politics?
I don’t subscribe to that idea. You don’t need to tell them. When they themselves see that the youth have taken over the scene, they will be disgrace to leave the scene. But we still need their advice and wise words. They’ve seen through the oceans and the seas. It will be very difficult to drive them away especially the good ones. The older ones cannot quit the scene like that. And have you ask those youth calling for their exits, what platform have they created to achieve this aim? They don’t have any platform to achieve this my brother. If this old people don’t allow you to rise up or express your own political ideology, then you create your own platform.
People always talk about lack of money to make it in politics as if money alone would do the job. Where are the ideas to organize, to lead people and the tactics to advance? Are these not the ingredient lacking in Nigerian youths? They appeared to be swayed by pop life-music, fashion and material things.?
Nowadays, the major problem of the Nigerian youth is “I want to quickly get up and make it syndrome”. They don’t want to serve before they get up. They also lack ideas. If you ask a typical Nigerian youth why he or she joins a political party, the answer is, “money”, “I need money”. Majority of them don’t even know the political ideologies of their different political parties. When money is not involved, you won’t see them. But I know some youth who don’t because of money join politics and they are now making waves. My political colleagues like Victor Olopade, Oladunni Olaitan, Ayodele Salaudeen, Raji Babatunde, Tolulope Adedoyin to mention but a few. We are all in the same school of thought. There are hundreds of them outside there.
We have a history of robust youth participation in politics—Zik of Africa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in their 40s and late 30s, Chief Anthony Enahoro, MallamAminu Kano, Ibrahim Imam Chief Joseph Tarka, Margaret Ekpo, Mrs. Ransome- Kuti and Sawaba at much earlier ages and the conditions were not markedly different then as of now. So what is the excuse, a lack of interest or will or both?
I think it is lack of interest. But I’ll disagree with you that the conditions of participation are different comparing to nowadays. There was no stiff competition then like we have it today. And the minority of the learned ones that time was not interested in politics. Like I always tell my friends, I became the state Chairman of the Peoples Mandate Party (PMP) in Oyo state at the age of 26. And I was made the State Secretary and P.R.O of Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) at the age of 23. Hope Democratic Party (HDP) is my third political party I’ll be chairing now in my thirties. I’ve also chaired APA and UPP when I was in Oyo State.
You are currently Osun State party chairman of Hope Democratic Party (HDP). Why Hope and not the big ones, the APC and PDP?
When I wanted to join party politics in Oyo state, I started as foundation ward secretary of the Action Congress (AC) then at Ire Akari, along Ode Oolo in Ibadan. I contributed a lot to the development of the party in my ward then but some leaders who saw me as threat due to my ideas and vision used all they had to block me from representing my ward at the local government level of the party. That was what eventually made me to join the Progressive Action Congress (PAC) then led by Dr. Smart Awopegba where I rose to become, PAC Ibadan North Local Government Party Chairman and P.R.O. I was also later made an interim state secretary of African Renaissance Party (ARP) for five months. I left Action Congress (AC), which eventually became Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and finally metamorphosed into APC today because they didn’t give me the platform to express my ideology. When I moved in to other political parties I expressed myself freely and achieved many political feats.
Today I’m currently the Osun State Chairman of Hope Democratic Party (HDP) because I’m interested and have hope in the party. My interest is not for monetary or selfish gain. HDP gives me the platform to develop and execute my political plans, which will later positively affect the lives of Osun citizens. Whenever Osun INEC calls for party meetings, all of us including PDP and APC are always there because we are both registered by INEC and are carrying same certificate of registration. The national chairman of the party in person of Chief Ambrose Owuru gave all of us equal level playing ground and the South West Chairman of the party in person of Chief Ola Sokunbi is a friendly and faithful leader. Hope Democratic Party is a unique party with unique political ideology. Our symbol is fish. There is a revolutionary blueprint, which we used in every state.
Like I said earlier, when some forces don’t give you platform to express your own political ideologies then create one yourself.
I ask because the experience in structure and people you may need to go far may be absent in Hope, which it is like standing alone?
You are right but you know that Rome was not built in a day. It’s a gradual process. We are building our structures. We are calling for more members.
From you many interests as chairman of other organizations such as Society of Young Nigerian Writers, and the Computer Guild of Nigeria, it does seem you do not want to make a career in politics?
My brother, I have my career already. I’m a computer scientist, journalist, theologian and writer. I write and consult for people. I’m not depending on politics to make a living. Whatever profit comes from my work is what I used to finance my party. Jobless people take politics as work. What makes me to venture into politics is the poor political leadership that we have in the country. Instead of using almost every day to complain, why can’t one join them to see if one can make a change?
The trend in developed economies where young men have become Heads of Governments, that is France, Canada, the UK shows the influence of youths in politics there. How can Nigerian hope to achieve such a feat?
Youths are not speaking with one voice in Nigeria. And the older ones know the tricks to dismember them whenever they unite as one. Two of the tricks are money and positions. If the youth of the country can unite as one and establish a formidable political platform where they can express their political ideologies then all will be well. And they also must have it in mind to serve and not to be served. Federal government and other stakeholders should also work towards creating conducive environment and providing the tools for them to work with. Parts of the tools are the Nigerian Youth in Politics Endowment Fund (NYPEF) and the national enforcement committee to see towards the actualization of the Not Young to Run Bill.
What are the ways to go about it in Nigeria apart from legislation and fear of money?
As I said earlier, cooperation and seriousness is what is needed from the youth. Let them have formidable platform and come up with strategies and plans. They should network with international and foreign like UNDP, IRI and NDI. Election Stakeholders like INEC and Political Parties should also take the participation of youths in election seriously.