BY IKE UCHECHUKWU- CALABAR
Former governor of Cross River, Sen. Liyel Imoke, on Saturday said that he joined politics without connections and a political background when he was elected as a senator in 1992 at the age of 30.
Imoke disclosed this in Calabar while addressing thousands of young people during the 8th Career Day of the Bridge Leadership Foundation, a pet project initiated by him in 2011 during his administration as the governor of Cross River.
The former governor said that the objective of the foundation was to raise a community of inspired, equipped and influential young leaders, who lead themselves and others.
He explained that the foundation was committed to building generations of young people educated to become compassionate and entrepreneurial who make best use of opportunities.
His words :”I am just the ordinary gentle man. There is nothing exceptional and special about me, other than some challenges I took to run for election at the age of 30.
“At that time, I had no political profile, no political background and no connections. I got engaged in politics and got a few support from my senior friends and my wife.
“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, the political class is treated as super star, which is not correct because we are supposed to be public servants.
” I want to be remembered for the people’s lives that I have affected. That is why this leadership Foundation is grooming young people who will take over governance tomorrow’’, he said.
He said that since inception, the foundation has addressed gaps in the provision of practical leadership models for young people and has over the years provided platforms designed to develop and mentor the young people to maximise their potentials.
According to him, over 30,000 young people have been impacted by the foundation’s initiatives since inception in 2011.
He listed the beneficiaries to include, secondary school students, undergraduates, unemployed youths, fresh graduates, entrepreneurs, teachers, communities among others.
The Keynote Speaker, Mr Tonye Cole, the Executive Director of Sahara Group, urged the youths to have the potentials of becoming true citizens of Nigeria by overcoming fear.
Cole, who lauded the initiative of Imoke, expressed confidence that the youths were being inspired and influenced in taking active participation in governance.
He said : “The youths must overcome fear by taking decisions that would benefit their future. The decision you take today can cost your life, the decision can also open your breakthrough and way to freedom’’, he said.
Another speaker, Prof. Paul Nwulu, called on the women to rise to the challenge of seeking for elective positions, saying that some political parties were ready to give out nomination and interest forms for free to women.
According to Nwulu, any country that places premium on the girl-child education was in the right direction of progress.