In search of a new Itsekiri youth leader

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By Buwa Egbe

The Itsekiri National Youth Council, INYC,  is the umbrella body of Itsekiri youths in Nigeria and is presently led by Hon David Tonwe. While it has been one of the frontline organizations safeguarding Itsekiri interests in the public sphere, many Itsekiris are of the opinion that, as the time for a change of baton in the leadership of the body draws near, the Itsekiri nation would do well to shop for qualified and competent hands to steer the council into the future. It is within this context that Hon Michael Ejueyitsi Tidi is being considered by major stakeholders as a prime candidate for the presidency of the body.

While several such stakeholders point to his academic background, others are projecting him on account of his grassroots reach and popular appeal amongst both Itsekiri youths, elders and leaders alike. As to his academic credentials, they note that Tidi, bagged his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Port Harcourt and a master’s degree in the same discipline from the Delta State University, Abraka. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D at University of Ibadan in energy studies with specialization in oil and gas economics.

Those pointing to his grassroots credentials point to the fact that he has been  active in youth affairs with an enviable track record of working on youth empowerment with various youth councils. He is  the Convener of the Niger Delta Patriotic Initiative, NPDI, a body of stakeholders committed to partnering with state governments and federal ministries, departments and agencies to develop the Niger Delta. Furthermore, he in the past espoused the view that the INYC should be an all embracing platform for the benefit of all Itsekiri youths with added emphasis on connecting them with youths from around the world for the purpose of understanding global issues and attaining the requisite competency in squaring up to the challenges of a fast evolving world. Tidi has been described as a prolific and persuasive speaker as well as an inspirational leader.

In Warri and environs for instance, the consensus is that his entry into politics was motivated by the  desire to inspire a new generation of Itsekiri youths imbued with the orientation and equipped with the  skills  to take the Itsekiri ethnic nationality to the long hoped for high income status. Many of those currently promoting him as an appropriate candidate for the presidency of the INYC  equally pointed to the fact that his humble disposition, academic background, intellectual orientation, political philosophy and youth empowerment agenda  place him in a perfect position for the translation of government aspirations into  doable actions  youths can  relate to in order to dovetail their life pathways toward the attainment of the anticipated goals.

Others  say the INYC lacks a secretariat and hardly participates in youth activities that would be of immense benefits to Itsekiri youths. For instance, the INYC does not participate in  the activities of the World Assembly of Youth, WAY, the coordinating body of national youth councils and organizations around the world, presently led by a Malaysian, Datuk Seri Idris Haron.

The INYC similarly does not participate in the activities of the Commonwealth Youth Council, CWYC, the umbrella body of some 1.2 billion young people scattered across member states of the Commonwealth of Nations. Interestingly, this particular body is presently headed by a Nigerian from Katsina State, Dr. Ahmed Adamu.

As if this is not regrettable enough, the INYC does not participate in activities of the Pan-African Youth Union, a body for the coordination of youth activities across the African continent and presently headed by Andile Lungisa, a South African.  Most lamentable however is the fact that the INYC does not seem inclined to take part in activities of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, presently led by Yakubu Shendam from Plateau State. Tidi has just the right youthful perspective and intellectual vibrancy that would bring the necessary changes to the INYC.

Certain other commentators rooting for Tidi are inspired by the fact that the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, for the very first time, elected a real youth in the person of a  30-year old man, Abdullahi Maibasira, into the post of its National Youth Leader, as opposed to a man who could even be in his 60s  as obtained in the past.  Since Tidi falls into the age bracket of a genuine youth, his well-known passion for deepening inter-ethnic harmony in Warri has been interpreted as arising from the conviction that social interaction should revolve around a battle of ideas rather than a battle of guns.

This would appear to be one reason why many Itsekiris are beginning to identify him as a young leader of transformational potential, a factor that has endeared him into the hearts of many stakeholders across Itsekiri land, quite apart from the fact that he is an Emiko from the Itsekiri royal family.

Instructively for such a young man, others cite the fact that his respect for elders and his readiness to consult them on a plethora of issues pertaining to the progress of Itsekiri land is well known. Tidi, on his part, is full of praises for Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan’s three points agenda as well as for the wisdom and regal disposition of the Olu, His Royal Majesty, Ogiame Atuwatse II.

As Itsekiri youths across the nation and in the diaspora anticipate a peaceful, decorous and expeditious transition in the leadership of the INYC, it has become the conviction of many of them that a young leader like Tidi would fit rather well into the presidency of the umbrella body of Itsekiri youths across the world.

*Egbe, a commentator on national issues, is resident in the United Kingdom


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