People & Money

#ENDSARS, Young Nigerians & 2023: Islamiyat Abdulkadir, Medical Doctor and Health Advocate

Islamiyat Oluwatoyin Abdulkadir studied medicine at the International University of Africa, Khartoum, Sudan, winning a prize as the best graduating medical doctor in Sudan in 2016. In 2017, she emerged as the best foreign-trained doctor after passing the Nigerian Medical Licensing Exam for foreign-trained doctors with a distinction. Oyo State recognised her the most Outstanding  Academic Achievement award in the same year. She is a scholar at the Hansen Leadership Institute, San Diego. Islamiyat is a health advocate and activist and is also passionate about politics and leadership.

Politicians must SoroSoke about real solutions to the country’s problems… Young people will be asking them for their precise  plans to resolve problems e.g. the issue of police brutality. The protests were not called off because of the lack of credible step-by-step plan from the Government. They will be forced to share this plan in 2023.”

How old are you?

I am 27 years old. I must say I already consider myself as a somewhat older young Nigerian, so you won’t see me vying to lead a student body or youth wing of a political party in 20 years when I will be 47! I also pray our political culture will no longer tolerate this sort of outrage by then. 

Have you ever voted? 

Unfortunately no. I left Nigeria for studies in Sudan when I was barely 16 years. You have to be 18 to vote. When I came back to the country in 2016,  I was determined to vote for the first time in the 2019 elections. However, the registration and issuing of voter cards took so long. Unfortunately, I had left the region where I registered to start work in another part of Nigeria when the voter’s card was ready. Millions of Nigerians have been disenfranchised over the years in this way. It’s time we changed the system to accommodate electronic voting; if they can use the most electronically advanced iPhones and BWMs, they sure can enable electronic voting.   

Do you think the #EndSARS campaign has awoken the youth to their political power? 

Yes definitely. I believe the protests showed how young people can focus political attention on issues that many Nigerians are concerned about by learning to organize, moblise, network, etc. We have seen what can happen when we are determined to act together. It’s a very long road to having politicians and government worry about and devote serious attention to resolving problems that youths are concerned about because they know it could lose them a lot of votes. But it is a good start to that journey, sustaining a movement of such magnitude for days and bringing all that attention to police brutality is not beans. 

Also Read: #ENDSARS, Young Nigerians & 2023: Usman Oyebamiji, Development Researcher

How do you think this power will be used as we approach the 2023 elections? 

In 2023, the awareness #EndSARS created ought to manifest in the quality of political platforms and leaders asking for the votes of young people. Politicians must SoroSoke about real solutions to the country’s problems. The #NotTooYoungToRun campaign did not really achieve anything in the 2019 elections judging by the quality of output of the politicians elected. I believe #EndSARS has raised consciousness. Young people will be asking politicians for their precise plans to resolve problems e.g. the issue of police brutality. The protests were not called off because of the lack of a credible step-by-step plan from the Government. They will be forced to share this plan in 2023. 

What kind of candidates are you expecting for the presidency? 

I expect to see the same old set of people, as well as new vibrant and young aspirants. I am tired of seeing our choices being limited to either one of the two major political parties – PDP and APC. I know the strength of a political party is relevant in predicting who emerges as a leader but to be honest this shouldn’t be about the parties. Instead, it should be about who is capable and efficient enough to rule a country. Anyone can hand out naira notes and promise things they have to spend N50 billion naira on but have not spent even 5 minutes thinking about. I believe that if the political parties see and hear that a lot of Nigerians are asking hard questions only competent people can answer, they will field better candidates.

Also Read: #ENDSARS, Young Nigerians & 2023: ‘Kunle Adebajo, Journalist

Will you vote for a PDP or an APC candidate? 

I will base my vote on the credibility of the candidates, and not the parties. And I think it’s high time everyone adopted this approach to voting. Let’s focus more on the quality of the candidates themselves and seek to stress-test them to breaking point. Anyone with the physical and intellectual stamina to participate in at least 50 townhall discussions on economic, security, education, energy, etc. policy and at least 5 televised debates should not be our next president. 

Can you donate money to a political movement or party? 

Oh yes, I can donate to a political movement or party. I believe for the betterment of the country, those who have should spend on mobilising to put the idea and people they believe in government. And political parties and candidates that mobilise donations and use the funds with accountability and transparency will be transparent in government. The next step of #EndSARS is for the youth to unite and out-sponsor the godfathers, from each according to what they can afford – N2,000 or N2,000,000. See the way funds poured in for #EndSARS. Smart political platforms should be working furiously on policy platforms that show they have real solutions to the many problems that afflict Nigerian youths and selling them aggressively.

Buhari promised N1 for $1, what key economic policy would you expect from the candidate or party in 2023?

I do not expect a miracle from the government. I am going to be persuaded to vote not for a party that speaks about how previous or current governments and politicians have been corrupt or destroyed Nigeria but one that spends time explaining how to rebuild Nigeria. I will also expect honesty and candor – the sacrifices Nigerians have to make to rebuild Nigeria, to have an economy based on enabling citizens to build a larger national cake, not fighting over a fast-vanishing national cupcake. 

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