Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says there is need for an intergenerational handshake where the young, old and people of all genders work together in Nigerian politics.
Osinbajo made this submission in his speech at the Official Presentation and Launch of the book, “Politics that Works’’ in Abuja.
The book was co-authored by Sen, Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matter and Alex James, a young writer and political enthusiast.
“I think there are two important promises contained in this whole effort–the first is that this book will teach what we do not know already about winning elections; the sort of things that are not being taught anywhere.
“And frankly, those who are here; I can name just a few who can teach us so many things about what no one has taught about winning elections.
“As a matter of fact, when I came into politics, I really thought I knew what it was all about; I was always on the sidelines watching; and I really thought I knew all that could possibly happen in politics having been in one way or the other involved.
“But I can assure you that the past few years have taught me that that there are so much that cannot be taught in any book no matter what the book might say because there are too many wonderful things that happen.’’
He said participants in the political scene would be able to testify about the wonderful things that could happen.
According to the vice president, the second message in the book, is that it is an intergenerational effort—Ojudu in his 60s and James in his 20s.
“So, both are trying to teach important lessons here; that the way that things will work is where there is an inter-generational handshake—the young and the old as opposed to any attempt to define the tenets of liberal politics, by saying it is one group or the other.
“The type of politics most of us will prefer is liberal politics; free enterprise democracy, individual Freedom.
“It means that there can be no discrimination either on the basis of age, or gender gap, or political position persuasion; so, that is why we negotiate our way through these days.
“And I think the point was made by one of the speakers; so, in liberal democracy, it is about negotiation;
“There will be negotiations on the basis of gender; women will say we don’t have representation; young people will say we don’t have representation; and then we start talking about quotas or affirmative action or some solution or the other.’’
He said that the basis of liberal democracy was that everybody was invited to the table.
According to him, the important thing is to ensure that there is, as possible, a level playing field.
“And the problem also with liberal politics is money. Who has the resources? Because resources will also to a large extent, determine who can play the game
“For example, somebody who has a major company; has resources will probably be able to get to the game faster than a 60 year old man with all his experience but no money.
“So, there are barriers and I think what is important is for us to see how we can remove those barriers as much as possible so there is a level playing field.’’
He said that over the years he had worked with young people who had creditably acquitted themselves.
Osinbajo said the young aides were not cowed by the age and experience of older ones around them.
“What I have experienced serving in the position of the vice president for the past few years and having the opportunity to bring on board young people and elderly people too, is that the quality of contribution is not defined by age and that is the truth.
“I have so many young people who work with me; very brilliant young people and they are not intimidated, I must tell you, by anybody older than them sitting at the table; they are just not intimidated.
“So, the youngest person who was working with me is 22 years,’’ he said.
Earlier in his opening remarks, Ojudu said the event was to bring together old and aspiring politicians to discuss the future of politics in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria is ripe for transitioning as it is craving for more youthful and innovative governance.
Adams Oshiomhole, a former Governor of Edo State, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who featured as a panelist at the book presentation, said that politics and governance were not about age.
He said that what determined a government was the character of those therein.
The event attracted former governors, members of the National Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the diplomatic corps, young politicians, among others.