Osita Ozalagba is the Acting National Leader of Association of Community Youth Leaders in the South East
By Vincent UjumaduOsita Ozalagba is the Acting National Leader of Association of Community Youth Leaders in the South East
Osita Ozalagba is the Acting National Leader of Association of Community Youth Leaders in the South East. The association was recently formed as part of measures to ensure that the ongoing move by members of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, MACBAN, to establish Fulani Youth Vigilance Groups in the South East do not come to fruition.
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In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, Ozalagba spoke on how the association would tackle the problem without creating any tension. He also spoke on why youths should be carried along in the scheme of things in the country.
What informed the formation of this association?As the Vice Chairman of the Youth Wing of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), I have interacted with various segments of the leaders in the various communities. This made me to think of bringing together youths in the South East for us to handle issues concerning security in the zone. I am therefore one of the proponents of the South East Association of Community Youth Leaders. I met with my colleagues in the other states in the South East and all of us are on the same page for the association to take off. We have been reviewing the situation in the country and found it necessary to come together and galvanize ourselves to work in the best interest of our people, especially as it concerns security.
The issue on ground is the alleged move by Miyetti Allah to set up vigilance groups in the South East. How can the youths come in here?
I don’t even blame the Miyetti Allah because they are acting based on what they have seen for themselves. They have seen that the people of the South East are not coordinated. Because there is no coordination, they want to exploit the situation. Even if they have ulterior motive, they are pursuing it because they have discovered that our people are not speaking with one voice. It is not enough to condemn the cattle breeders; there must be a proactive action to ensure that whoever believes he can come into the region with such annoying plan should not be encouraged at all. If we are sincere, we can organize ourselves and put up measures that will discourage the cattle breeders to nurse the idea of vigilance groups in the zone in the first place. Their penetration of the South East is due to leadership loopholes in the zone.
I must commend the South East governors who have said no to such a move, but more should be done. We are working out plans on how to liaise with the governors. The youths already have a template on this issue and we want all Igbo leaders to be sincere on this matter. Some people should not be charting the way forward, while others are sabotaging the efforts.
The truth of the matter is that governments at various levels have not been sincere with the way they handle such sensitive issues. The leaders have not been up and doing in evolving ways of securing our people as a result of this threat. The leaders should build structures that involve youths to be in the picture of what they intend to do. There is no community where the youths do not form the majority and what is required is to give them a sense of belonging. Once the youths are carried along in the scheme of things, they will do whatever they are asked to do. But if you ignore them, they take decisions that are sometimes counterproductive.
That is why it is imperative for the youths in this part of the country to come together to galvanize themselves to form a formidable structure. This will help us to organize ourselves and put an end to all these anomalies happening in the society. That is the only way they can support the relevant authorities to improve governance. The truth of the matter is that until the youths are keyed into the plans and programmes at all levels, the security challenges in the country will not abate because they are the most active in the society.
There is this impression that youths only come together purposely to enrich themselves and not to solve any societal problem. What do you say to that?
This is true and it is as a result of the decay in the society. I do not want to apportion blames, but I must admit that my generation has not been the role model the society expects of them. There is no mentorship any longer and that is why there is this type of cankerworm eating deep into the fabric of the society. Because there are no role models to look up to and people whose sources of wealth are being –recognized in the society, it becomes survival of the fittest. Because of the fractured system, many youths no longer believe in what the leaders tell them. That is why there is need for us to come together to salvage the system. There are some of us who still believe that things will get better if the right leadership is put in place. We have chosen to remain steadfast because we have seen the need to protect the integrity of the youths and their future and safeguard the society.
Is it not possible for the youths to stand their feet and rebuff the politicians who often use them to achieve their aims?
That is what we want to achieve through the Association of South East Youth Leaders. There is Ohaneze Youth Wing, but we are not interested in that because it is not helping the youths in any way. We know it is not easy, but we have been able to identify many like minds in the South East who are genuinely interested in the reshaping of the ideology of the youths. From our experience so far, there is hope that we shall get the desired result.
At what stage is the South East Youth Leaders Association?
We have been meeting and I promise that in no distant time, our action shall be felt in the region.
What is your target?
We want to partner with the relevant stakeholders to stem the tide of insecurity in the South East. That is our ultimate target. Until we achieve that, no youth of this region can rest.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.