Bisi Ogunwale, a young politician who lost out in his bid to unseat a lawmaker in the Kwara state house of assembly in the 2015 elections, says people cannot make significant contributions to political parties without getting involved.
Ogunwale charged young people to get involved in politics in order to contribute their own quota to the society.
Narrating the importance of politics in the society, Ogunwale gave useful tips to budding politicians.
He spoke in Lagos at the launch of “Stepping Out”, a book which dwells on his experience in the race for Oke-Ogun constituency in the Kwara state house of assembly.
“Young people are not in the political party because of the fact that they say politics is dangerous, violent and dirty. But here is the fact that I have for you, as a young person out there, politics decides your life. Whether you are a banker, medical doctor, pilot, an architect, whatever you are, a Christian, Muslim, traditionalist, politics decides what you become or not,” he said.
“So, if you know that something controls your life, why don’t just get in the space and also be a part of how that decision is being made. If you are not in the room, and you are not at the seat of where the politics and control decisions are being taken, you can continue to make noise from now till tomorrow, nothing changes.
“The number one issue to note here is the fact that we like to talk a lot and we don’t get anything done by talking because once we talk today, another issue comes up tomorrow, and then we lash on that and we move on, and we forget about what we were talking about before that issue came up.
“So here is my take, if you want to change something, let it be known that there is no amount of English you can speak that will change anything. Nobody can change the world except you are in government. Government has the highest capability of changing the world except you have tons of money like Bill Gates.
“You can change political parties by getting involved in them, leave social media, leave Facebook, Twitter. Go and look for a political ward, register in any political party and I am not preaching for any particular party. Join that party, reform that party and begin to make sense out of what is going on there.”
He spoke about some of his personal experiences, explaining how the lack of interest displayed by young persons make them being shortchanged in the end.
“It will not be easy because it was not easy for me. As a matter of fact, when I started going back to the leader of my ward at a time, the ward chairman was a 82-year-old and one of the first things I had to do was to say ‘ah, Alhaji, you are too old for this party. Let’s leave it for the younger ones.’ Today, the ward chairman is 56 years old,” he said.
“One thing I find very disturbing about Nigerians, especially young ones, to talk about politics, what always ends that conversation is ‘may God help us’. God will not help you. One thing we must all know is that God is not on only us. So, we must not abdicate our roles. God is not a labourer.
“Get out there, get busy and get the work done, and that is the only way we can get things done.”
Bolaji Abdullahi, spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who was one of the guests at the event, said in as much as writing a book is not an easy tas, writing about your experience is even more difficult.
He commended the author for taking a “bold step”, wishing hin the best in future endeavour.
“Like he has done, he wants younger people to learn from his experience of entering into politics,” he said.
“One of the biggest luck of this generation is the internet that empowers younger people the way no other single factor in human history, has empowered young people. But the internet that is empowering has also become almost completely disempowering in the sense that the social media and this mobile phone has a way of creating an illusion of participation. You have access to the internet and that is where you direct all your energy and your anger and all your ideas of what needs to be done. In that sense, it creates a sense of what I call participation paralysis.
“I told myself I was a technocrat. Up till the time I became minister, I was still calling myself a technocrat. But by benefit of hindsight, I found out that the definition of myself as a technocrat was a language of experience. When decisions were being taken, I was never in the room.
“People who are not near as smart as you are will sit in a room and take a decision and pass it unto technocrats like yourselves to go and consume. It took a long time before I realised that I’ve actually defined myself out of relevance. The room where decision is taken is in the political room. It is hot, dirty and anarchic but that is where decisions are taken and where you should be, even as uncomfortable as it is.”
Yomi Fawehinmi, reviewer of the book, commended the author for his efforts. He also charged aspiring politicians on the need to prepare for the task ahead.
“Running means active involvement. Run like you want to die. Be prepared for it and prepare your families,” he said.
“Many young people say they want to run for office and disrupt the system but they don’t even understand what they want to disrupt. If you want to disrupt a political system and you don’t understand that system, they will disrupt you, and that is the reality.
“If you want to run for office, read books, attend seminars, get a political mentor to teach you. Education makes the difference at the end of the day.”