APC youth are aggrieved by the choice of Mr. Jalo as youth leader.
Nigerians across political divide have criticized the All Progressives Congress, APC, for appointing 52-year-old Ibrahim Jalo as its youth leader.
Mr. Jalo was one of the new executives elected at the party’s convention held in Abuja on June 13 and 14.
Among those who crticised the APC were some youth of the party, Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as well as the PDP Youth Frontier, PDPYF.
The PDP also criticised the claim by the APC spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, that Mr. Jalo is 43 and not 52 years old.
Mr. Mohammed had initially told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday that he would check the party’s records to verify Mr. Jalo’s age.
“I am not a member of the screening board, I was a contestant myself; I picked a form and filled in my date of birth. So we will have to go back to the party’s policy to find out what it states on this,” he said.
He, however, got back to say Mr. Jalo was 43 years old and not 52; a claim the PDP says is false.
“It is public knowledge that Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo contested the Gombe/Kwame/Funakaye Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representative in 2011 during which he declared his age to be 49 years. The records are there and they speak for themselves,” Olisa Metuh, the ruling party spokesperson said.
“If Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo was 49 years in 2011, it naturally follows that he is 52 at present for which he should be grateful to God. It is therefore clear that the statement by the APC declaring him to be 43 years is false.
“Whilst we concede that the APC has the right to select a person of any age for any position within their fold, including a man of 52 as National Youth Leader, we are however shocked that they chose to lie over an issue as ordinary as the age of a national officer,” Mr. Metuh added in a statement on Tuesday.
Also criticising the APC, the National Coordinator of the PDPYF, Usman Okai, on Monday said Mr. Jalo’s appointment as the APC National Youth Leader is ‘retrogressing’.
The PDPYF said the appointment of Mr. Jalo is disappointing especially as it comes at a time when Nigerian youth are clamouring that the president, Goodluck Jonathan, makes youth affirmation a priority.
He said APC’s action is discouraging, archaic and undemocratic as Mr. Jalo is “no longer within the age of youth more or less youth leader.”
“So unfortunate a party that professes progressives (sic) is now discouraging youth from politics,” Mr. Okai said.
He said Mr. Jalo is 21 years older than his PDP counterpart, Abdullahi MaiBasira, who is 31 years old.
Mr. Okai also accused the APC convention committee of refusing to sell forms to party loyalists whose names were not endorsed by the APC godfather.
He called on the youth in APC to defect to PDP stating that the latter’s doors are always open to accommodate Nigerian youth.
“We are calling on the youth groups in APC not to be politically discourage rather they should come to PDP for proper political participation that will enable take charge in their future political destiny,” he said.
APC youth also aggrieved
It is not only the PDP that is angered by the choice of its major rival; some APC youth are also aggrieved.
The APC youth stated their position in a letter addressed to the interim National Chairman of the party. The letter was signed by the National Coordinator of the APC Young Patriots, Asuzu Echezona.
Mr. Echezona said that while the successful APC convention proved predictions that the party will disintegrate before its first convention wrong, the youth were not satisfied with the emergence of Mr. Jalo as their leader.
He said the election of Mr. Jalo was against the newly amended APC constitution, which defined a youth as “anyone between the age of 18 and 40 years”.
“While APC youths were still celebrating the mainstreaming of this important position by APC, we were dealt with a very cruel blow – the ‘purported’ emergence of Mr. Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo, a 52-year-old man, as the national youth leader of the APC.
“We say “purported” because it is difficult to believe that a political party that flaunts “social democratic change” as its ideology would choose to exclude the demographic constituency most synonymous with change – the youth,” Mr. Echezona said.
He also advised the APC leadership to quickly act and do the “needful.”
“The emergence of Mr. Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo is an unabashed affront not only on the constitution of the APC but also on the collective sensibilities and aspirations of Nigerian youth truly yearning for change. We, the League of Patriotic and Progressive Youths call on the leadership of the APC to quickly do the following needful before the movement for change becomes tramped in an unnecessary moral quagmire,” he said.
Another youth, Gbenga Olorunpomi, told PREMIUM TIMES that though he is happy that his party held its convention, he is dissatisfied with the emergence of Mr. Jalo as the party’s youth leader.
“Speaking in my capacity as a youth and nothing more, I am proud that my party has been able to pull out a convention despite the forces against it. I congratulate every leader that emerged except the youth leader,” Mr. Olorunpomi, an APC youth leader in Lagos, said.
He also affirmed that there had been an amendment to the party’s constitution on the definition of the youth; hence, he was surprised at the emergence of Mr. Jalo as the youth leader.
“Just before voting commenced on the convention ground, there were a few amendments to the party’s constitution and one of the amendments was that any persons between the age of 18 to 40 is defined as young people,” he said.
Mr. Olorunpomi said he and other young people in the party are unhappy with the outcome of the party’s election of a youth leader and therefore want a reversal.
“We are sad about this and seek a redress,” he said. “Seriously, we do not have anything against him as a person, but he does not represent our interest. I don’t know how many young people he communicates with, he doesn’t even run a twitter account – he doesn’t represent us.”