The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has asked Nigerian students to fully participate in the 2023 elections by voting for candidates based on their records.
The Speaker said the Nigerian youths should not pass up the opportunity of electing the next political leaders on their terms, which could only be achieved with their full participation in the electoral process.
Gbajabiamila spoke on Wednesday in Abuja while welcoming executive members of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), led by their President, Usman Barambu, to his office at the National Assembly.
They were on a “thank you” visit to the Speaker over the resolution of the 8-month industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
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While appreciating the visit, the Speaker highlighted the importance of the Nigerian youth in national development, saying, “You are a very important segment of Nigeria for national development. The role of youth in society cannot be overemphasised because you play a very critical role in what happens in this country now and in the future.
“It is important you understand that we recognise the importance of your place in national development.”
Gbajabiamila said students could not afford to be detached from the process of electing the next President as the future of the country was at stake.
He said: “Well, for me, you (students) have a lot to do between now and election day. In the next three, four months, you have a lot to do. What I mean is that you have to now begin to look at things differently, be able to look at things the way they are done in other climes, where people will look at things when it comes to politics and elections.
“What do I mean by that? We have so many candidates, not three, not four. People talk about having three frontrunners, perhaps, but as far as I’m concerned, we have 18 candidates running for the President of this country, and I don’t think you should overlook any one of them. You should not.
“What I want you to do, as is done in advanced democracies, is to look objectively, and this is what is done in other countries, people run on their records.”
The Speaker went on: “So, those are the issues that I think you need to consider. If a candidate does not have a record to run on and is talking about something else, it means that he doesn’t have a record to run on.
“The good thing is that most of the candidates, at least the frontrunners, have records. I’m not pitching for anybody here but look at their records. If you feel he deserves to be the President of Nigeria, please, do not hesitate. Vote for that person based on his record.
“Two of them have been governors for eight years, that’s the only record they have. One has been the Vice-President for eight years. So there are records, vote for records. Every candidate must run on his record.
“And I believe the way you have been equipped mentally, I have interacted with so many of you, I believe you’re savvy enough to be able to, in spite of all the noise and the smokescreen, zero in on the right person for Nigeria.
“Also pray, that’s very important. As you consider the candidates, also pray that God will guide you to make the right choice.
“I believe that it’s going to be a watershed moment in Nigeria and I believe that is exactly what is going to happen. That is the only charge I have for you today because that’s the most important thing before us in Nigeria right now.”
Earlier, the NANS President, Barambu said the visit was to show the appreciation of the Nigerian students for the efforts the Speaker put into the resolution of the ASUU crisis.
He also put before the Speaker the request of the students regarding the possibility of the authorities waiving a year of the school calendar in order to usher in a proper academic work, having lost almost three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ASUU strike.
The students also requested the intervention of the Speaker on the possibility of waiving the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) service year age for graduates who might have passed the age limit as a result of the time lost due to the COVID-19 lockdown and the ASUU strike.
The students pleaded with the Speaker to help extend their appreciation to the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whom they said successfully intervened in the resolution of the leadership crisis within the student union body.