Cardinal John Onaiyekan, the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, has asked older generation of Nigerians to yield ground for the youths in politics and administration of the country.
Cardinal Onaiyekan who said this at the presentation of a book authored by the late Dr. Matthew Mbu, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs titled, ‘Dignity in Service,’ pointed out that leaders of Nigeria at independence like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, were young and they accomplished lots of great things for Nigeria.
He also cited the example of the Late Dr. Mbu who was appointed Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs at the age of 23 in the 60s.
He said, “The point I want to make is this; today when you hear that a young boy was a minister, my mind always goes to those days too and I ask, how many people were old then? The people we now see as ancestors were all young people. I will like to find out the age of Tafawa Balewa and even Awolowo at that time. They were all relatively young and when Awolowo and Azikwe broke grounds then, they were young. I think this is the story we need to tell to our younger people but the question is, where is the space for our younger people when old people like me are still hanging around? We have to find a way of giving room to younger people to show what they can do also. Mbu has shown that young people can perform but we have also had experiences of young people who have not performed.”
The cleric also appealed to the youths to be ready and competent and have good intentions towards the country: “So at the end of the day, maybe it is not a matter of the age but a matter of your own mind, your intention, your love for doing the right thing especially concern for others, politics and service to the people in the name of God. If we start to take these things seriously then probably it would not matter whether we declare to seek re-election at 79 or whether we don’t.”