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Osinbajo Encourages Young Nigerians To Join Politics
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Osinbajo Encourages Young Nigerians To Join Politics 

The vice president claims that if it hadn’t been for politics, he would have remained a pressure group activist.

By Omotayo Olutekunbi

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recalls his time as Attorney General of Lagos, saying, “without public office, I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes required.”

He also urges young Nigerians that actively participating in politics or seeking jobs in government is the best way to transform society.

During a virtual meeting with Nigerian Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the vice president remarks, “You need to go the extra length if you are not already involved, get involved in politics—while a lot can be achieved in civil society, government still holds the ace in terms of capacity and resources to bring social good to the largest number,” 

He adds that: “Without public office, I would have remained a pressure group activist, I would have done some nice things, but I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes that my country required.

“I was once where you were. I was part of several civil society groups at the time. I joined the first civil society group when I was 24, I was teaching at the time.

“I also co-founded the anti-corruption group, Integrity, and then Convention on Business Integrity (which is still existing today and they function out of Abuja and Lagos).

“I was chair of the Legal Research and Development Centre, where we worked on civil rights issues and legal defense for the poor. We did a couple of legal defence initiatives, we got funding from donors and tried to do the best we could.

“If I count the numbers that we did all the years, it will be around maybe a hundred or so. We achieved some good, but compared to the scale of the problem, it was really a little.

“But in 1999 came politics, and I was appointed Attorney General of Lagos. With that platform, we took on corruption in the Lagos judiciary and set a model.

“From remuneration to discipline and we were able to put in place an anti-corruption framework that has lasted several years.”

According to Osinbajo, “Besides, being deciders instead of pressure groups at the table in policy formulation are hugely different positions.

“The consummation of our great ideas to transform our societies ultimately will depend on “those politicians” as we sometimes derisively describe them.

“African nations and especially our country, cannot afford to have its best minds and most committed social activists remain only in the civil space.

“No, we simply can’t afford it, you have to get involved in politics. You have to be in the position to make the difference on the scale that is required.

“Of course, there are many who will not be involved in politics, but those that are inclined should, and there will be many challenges even in the winning or getting heard in politics.

“But I want to say to you that it should be an objective that you should set for yourselves, to get involved at whatever level of politics so that you can make the difference on the scale that is required.”

The Fellowship is the centerpiece of the United States’ Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).

Since its inception in 2014, the Fellowship has attracted almost 5,100 young leaders from every countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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