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OPINION: Cross River Youth: The Time Is Now By Philip Obin.

Former Governors, Liyel Imoke & Donald Duke.

Those who have led and presided over the affairs of Cross River State in the last 30 years are still very much around and are working tirelessly to continue to keep a hold on the reins of power.

Persons indigenous to Cross River born in the last 30 years are today, by virtue of age, eligible to contest and govern the state.

In Nigeria, a person must be at least 35 years of age to be elected President or Vice President; 35 to be a Senator; 30 to be a State Governor, and 25 to be a Member of the House of Representatives or State House of Assembly.

Donald Duke became Governor at 38, having served as Commissioner for Finance and Planning at the age of 30.

Liyel Imoke was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the age of 30, during the Ibrahim Babangida transition government; at 42 he was appointed Minister of Power and Steel Development.

This was after he had served as Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Public Utilities at age 38. And at 46, he contested and won the governorship of Cross River State.

However, while the 'Old Brigades,' as many 'Young Ones' would label them, are busy calculating, meeting, lobbying, winning souls, brainstorming, strategizing, planning, deploying human and material resources ahead of 2023, the young ones are busy abusing and calling them names on social media, instead of understudying, learning and applying the skills and strategies the Old Brigades have used to make themselves relevant in the scheme of things.

In as much as Cross River, nay Nigerian politics is very much concerned, the Old Brigades are certainly no pushovers.

I may not always agree with some of these old leaders, but I admire them and how far they have come and have been following them keenly, for it's not easy to lead a people for 30 years and still try to remain relevant.

I, therefore, call on fellow Cross River youths to brace up and see this post as a wake-up call. Enough of the insults and social media abuses, accusations and counter-accusations.

As a youth, it is time we start our own meetings, first beyond party lines and zones, agree that we have failed ourselves; then begin the journey of making amends, catch up, work with the old ones, learn and prepare to take over when the old ones finally retire, bearing in mind that power is never served à la carte.

There's no administration and government in the history of Cross River State that has been as youth-friendly and giving young people the opportunity to express themselves and excel as the current administration led by their Excellencies Professors Ben Ayade and his deputy Ivara Ejemot Esu. This presents Cross River youths a unique and rare opportunity to train, equip themselves and consolidate, but unfortunately, the contrary is the case, so far.

If we do nothing, if we don't wake up now and take action, by 2023, we would be left only with the option of being lobbied by the 'old men and women' to campaign and vote for their preferred candidates.

I hereby call on young Cross Riverians - men and women - to take up the gauntlet. For those still seating on the fence, go register and join any political party of your choice (preferably the APC), get involved and let us open a new chapter in the politics of Cross River State - together. 

Philip Obin is the Technical Assistant to the Vice President of Nigeria on New Media and writes from Abuja.


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