Gov Otti At Cambridge, Speaks On Youth’s Participation In Politics In Africa

Gov Otti At Cambridge, Speaks On Youth’s Participation In Politics In Africa

20th May 2024

Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, has said that African leaders have not done enough to give the youths the voice they need to play significant roles in continental politics, despite making up about 75 percent of the continent’s population.

Governor Otti stated this at the weekend in the United Kingdom, at the Cambridge Africa Business Conference, hosted by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, where he featured on the fireside chat which focused on the topic, ‘Africa Together – Public/Private Partnerships’.

Responding to a question on the role he would want to have African Youths play in politics and the measures that should be taken to encourage them, Governor Otti said that the youths have been largely excluded because politics in Africa focuses on the wrong narratives of where one comes from, the faith they profess and the language they speak, instead of what they can offer.

Sadly, the Governor said, the youths have aided the conspiracy to undermine their importance in politics by acquiescing to the inanities.

According to him, “Seventy percent of our population (0-35 years) are youths; if you add 40 (year olds), you are looking at 75 to 80%.

“The Youths are excluded when we are talking about politics. Our politics focuses on the wrong narratives of tribe, religion, language, instead of demographics and what a person can offer.

“We have not done so much in giving the young people the voice they need and they have bought the garbage that what is important is religion, tribe and language, instead of demographics and what a person can offer,” Governor Otti said.

A statement signed by Kazie Uko the Chief Press Secretary to Abia State Governor, said Governor Otti elaborated that in the whole of Africa, it is only about three countries: Senegal, Ethiopia and Malawi, that their presidents are under 49 years old, stating that political education is important to change the narratives.

He told his audience that due to the importance he placed on education, his administration allocated 20 percent of the State’s 2024 Budget to education and has embarked on the remodelling and retrofitting of 173 primary schools and 54 secondary schools across the State to provide functional and quality education to the people.

On how the Central Bank of Nigeria’s digital currency product would create the enabling environment for small and medium scale businesses (SMEs) to thrive, Governor Otti said his administration would embrace it when implemented. In the meantime, however, he disclosed that his government was working to make available N10 billion funding with very low interest rate, for SME loans. Already, he said, N1 billion is currently being disbursed at zero interest to small businesses in the grassroots through the cooperatives programme, a scheme he initiated while on the campaign for the governorship of Abia.

The Governor announced that he had received requests from some companies which had left Aba, Abia’s commercial capital, because of deplorable conditions of infrastructure in the city, especially roads, and now want to come back. This renewed interest, according to him, is as a result of the recent award and flag-off of the reconstruction of the Osisioma-Ekeakpara industrial road, a critical corridor in Aba’s manufacturing layout. He further disclosed that his administration is working towards establishing another industrial layout around the Umuikaa axis in the Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the State.

Governor Otti refused to be drawn into self-adulation and comparing Abia with other states in Nigeria, saying that different states have different challenges and priorities. He however explained that the Modest visible achievements of his administration in the last 11 months have been due to the fact that his government had been focusing on what is important to the people and doing simple things in different ways.

While responding to questions on the sectors that would most likely attract investments in Africa, Governor Otti said it was important to create objective conditions. In his words, “Capital will go to a place where it will make returns. Capital is so sensitive that it has so much information about you, even more than you know. Do the homework, create the enabling environment for capital to find you, secure and make your environment attractive to capital.”

He pointed to Information Communication Technology (ICT) through the building of innovation hubs and industrial parks for software engineers; robotics, and 3D printing; mechanised agriculture with value chain where our people will sell processed foods; manufacturing, as sectors that his administration is already paying so much attention and doing a lot to make viable in the State. He also emphasised the importance of encouraging the workforce by paying them regularly and promptly to ensure that they have money in their hands to participate in the economy.

“If People don’t have money in their hands they can’t participate in the economy. It makes more sense to put money in the hands of those who will use the money locally, not those who will transfer them abroad,” Governor Otti explained.

He also explained that for production to take place there must be someone willing to buy but people can only buy when they have money in their hands.

~ NewsOrient
20th May 2024