One of the major lessons that I am certain many Nigerians took from last year’s #EndSars protests is that the time has come for the Nigerian youth to make themselves available for positions of leadership across all strata and tiers of government.
As a matter of fact, this is what inspired my decision to personally return home to my Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State, seek out a political group whose people oriented ideology aligns with mine, blend in with them and then join in the process of uplifting the lives of the people of our LGA.
But long before the #EndSars protests, long before my decision or before the line #Not TooYoungToRule became a mantra of our youths, there had arisen a young man in our local government area who had offered himself for service to our people by way of his dedication to the politics of service, many humanitarian activities through his foundation, and had insisted that “together we can make impact and achieve our collective goals”.
That man is 30-year-old Comrade Michael Ozafeshe Amune, popularly known by friends as MOA, a young man of humble beginning from the ancient town of Igarra, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo LGA. As founder of the Amune Michael Foundation, AMF, MOA is not a new face in Akoko-Edo politics, and as a matter of, when he contested last elections, he was the only candidate who visited almost all the communities in the LGA. Asked the philosophy that drives him, MOA responded; “…seeking ways to affect the lives of the people around you positively isn’t just the only real meaning one can give to one’s life, it is also the only thing one will be remembered for…”
Born to the family of Chief Francis Atikoko Amune of Igarra in 1992, the young Michael started nursery education in a Government Day Care Centre from where he proceeded to Hope International and Ojah Primary schools, both of them in Ojah community of Akoko-Edo LGA.
At Apex Secondary School in Ibillo where he was soon enrolled after obtaining his Primary School Leaving Certificate, and Ojirami Mixed Secondary school where he later finished, he was made the Social Prefect because of his special skills of organizing people even at that young age.
Michael would later gain admission to study Economics Education at the Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma, Edo State, in 2010. At Ekpoma, despite maintaining a very strict academic discipline and routine, the young Michael gave some of his time to social activities, a thing that quickly transformed him into one of the best Trumpeter on campus, so much so that even before he left the university, he had lost count of the number of shows he was invited to go play the trumpet.
At various times in the university, he held so many positions, from the Electoral Officer of his department, a thing that earned him the nickname Jega, to the PRO, to representing his faculty at the 2014 AAU General Students’ election, quite early in life, Michael had known that there was no alternative to the politics of service to the people and had dedicated his life to pursuing the same.
The National Youth Service Corps NYSC saw him posted to the ancient city of Kano in northern Nigeria, from where the strong desire to make an impact led to him founding his charity foundation, the AMF.
MOA has continued to insisted that there are basically three ways we can lead our lives. We can choose to sit idly by and complain while things get worse, get involved on a national or local level in the governance of our country, state or local government area or choose opposition and activism, in a bid to pressure government to deliver on services to the people. MOA said he chose to get involved because life was too short for anything less.
For him, politics should be part of the solution and not the problem, this is why he gave his all in the last elections, why he is determined, even though he is currently doing his masters in International Relations, to follow through with a Ph.D. afterwards, before he turns 35, and for him, whatever he achieves in this life, he would give back to his people.
Because he believes it is the duty of leaders to make politics work for the people, especially the poor, and because he also believes Akoko-Edo, his primary constituency has not gotten the best it deserves over the years, he worked with the best minds available to fashion an improved plan that will get both his Akoko-Edo people and their leaders engaged in a process that will deliver services to our people going forward. And in the coming years, he would unveil this manifesto to the people of the area.
According to him, the key elements of politics that must never be compromised for whatever reason are; free, fair and credible lections, strong oversight institutions like quality legislation, zero tolerance for corruption and a very competitive administration. All these he insists we must bring to bear at the national, state and local government levels.
And because it appears a general consensus that all these seem to be lacking, not just in Akoko-Edo LGA area but Nigeria at large, MOA has insisted that the duty of Nigerians today is to galvanize a crop of leaders that will make these the hallmark of their life in government.
The time for Akoko-Edo is now, the time for Nigeria is now, will our youths unite and speak with one voice, will Akoko-Edo youth unite and rally round one of our own in the person of MOA? The answer lies in the coming days.
Albert Afeso Akanbi is a writer, humanitarian and filmmaker. He writes from Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.