Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says engagement with the Nigerian youths has to be transparent and honest in order to build a progressive society and nation.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement in Abuja, said the Vice President received at the Presidential Villa, the executive committee of the Young Parliamentarians Forum, led by its Chairman, Simon Elisha, on Tuesday.
The Vice President said that the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) were not done on the basis of sharing slots between public officials or political chieftains, but in a manner whereby Nigerians who knew no one could benefit and did benefit.
“The first problem was everybody wanted a slot. I resisted it. Why? If I do that, we will destroy the programmes because majority of Nigerians don’t know people who will take the slots.
“It was not that one was being purist, but if young people can’t get the benefit except they know someone then we have failed the young people.
“One day, the President called me that he was listening to BBC Hausa Service and he heard two young men-beneficiaries of N-Power – saying they didn’t know anybody but were being paid the N30, 000 monthly stipends.
“The President said that is what shows we are making a difference; and everywhere we went during the 2019 campaigns, we had these young people organising themselves coming out supporting us.
“If people know they count, then they can trust us and they won’t destroy because they have a stake. Otherwise, people will never trust us,” he submitted, insisting that political leaders must make sacrifices in order to win the trust of the people.”
He acknowledged that there were indeed important issues to be addressed.
Osinbajo said the youths were not just a demography but in the majority.
“What we need to do for that vast majority is what we must do for our country. We must find a way so they are represented as effectively as possible,” he said.
He welcomed the support of the House of Representatives members for the newly formed National Economic Council (NEC) committee set up yesterday to interface with youths, and other stakeholders on issues of employment, social safety-nets and national unity.
Elisha commended the Vice President’s sincere interaction with the youths over the years and especially in the wake of the #EndSARS protests across the country and called for improved interaction between youths and leaders at all levels.
In his contribution, Luke Onofiok, from Akwa Ibom State lauded the courage exhibited by the Vice President in honestly addressing issues in the wake of the nationwide protests.
“We appreciate the messages you sent to the youth during the protests. It doused tensions. You did the job of John the Baptist for the President ahead of his speech to the nation,” he said.
Other members of the forum at the meeting included Hafiz Kawu, Tarauni Federal Constituency, Kano State, Kabiru Tukura, Zuru/Fakai/Sakaba/D/Wasagu Federal Constituency, Kebbi State and Saidu Abdullahi, Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency, Niger.
Also in the meeting were Taiwo Oluga, Ayedaade/Irewole/Isokan Federal Constituency, Osun Sate and Shina Abiola-Peller, Iseyin/Itesiwaju/Kajola/Iwajowa Federal Constituency, Oyo State
Elisha represents Kaltungo/Shongom Federal Constituency in Gombe State while Onofiak is from Etinan/Nsit Ibom/Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency in Akwa Ibom.