I remember the room in the Akwa Ibom State Library in Uyo in 1998; it was tense but filled with hope. We were edging towards the democracy we had longed and worked hard for. I was young and hopeful; part of a restless generation that desired better for their country. Over two decades of military rule and we knew by all indices that we deserved better. This was my first meeting as a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party in Akwa Ibom State. I was 34 years old.
I had been a lecturer for close to a decade and had witnessed the ceiling many of my graduates could not break; it was a ceiling holding me back too, we were all stuck under Military rule and its many limitations.
I am comfortable taking risks; you need a fearless spirit to dare politics, especially in the Nigerian political terrain. We knew what would happen if this foray into democracy failed. During the scuttled by Military coup NPN and NPP era, many young men had dared to participate in politics but found themselves jailed or even worst dead after the coup. We knew the dangers of a short lived democracy but we wanted better.
My journey in the PDP has been long and tedious. Politics though mentally stimulating is not the easiest path to take, it involves sleepless nights, enemies and difficult decisions.
I have served as a lecturer, a commissioner in several ministries in Akwa Ibom State and now the Legal Adviser of the biggest and most functional political party in Nigeria.
In all my years of service and all the elections I have witnessed, this is undoubtedly the most crucial election season in the history of our dear nation.
Firstly, we are at the brink and the polls remain our best bet at retrieving this nation from the lasting effects of the abject failure of the past three years.
And then there is the influx of a new group of people into the political space; the youth.
Politics has always been a mixture of the old, the middle aged and the young but we have never seen a coming together of determined young people as we have in this election cycle.
Prior to this, I had experienced young people taking charge of political narratives and breaking the walls of political conversation in the last elections but I also noticed that these brilliant young men and women set the pace and dictated what the nation focused on without negotiating or creating a space for themselves in the power equation.
I have always believed in the importance of political power and the knowledge of it. Many changes I wanted to see in my beautiful Akwa Ibom were achieved when I and other like minds got the power to create what we wanted to see in Akwa Ibom; this took years of political participation, determination and growth. I expected to see same from the youth in 2015 but that did not materialize.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the years building up to this and the influx of youth especially in our great party have been astronomic. These are not the young men and women who sit down taking notes while the elders make all the decisions; NO! These young people demand their space and right to participate within the system. These youth want to work hand in hand. These youth want you to understand that they are here to take PDP to the next level and are willing to sacrifice their time, sweat and tears to ensure that this party is taken to the next level and that we create and sustain ideologies that will grow Nigeria and our democracy for centuries to come.
2019 in more ways than one, is about this group; the youth.
I remember the period where our great party had to cope with Ali Modu Sheriff and the split factions. It was a dark time in our history as the one true National Party in Nigeria and our journey to rebuilding our party and her legacy. The dent of that period was partly straightened out by youth who kept the faith knowing that this platform has to be sustained and strengthened to prevent our democracy from tethering off the edge.
Again, 2019 is for them.
The effort I and my colleagues at the secretariat put in is tied to delivering for these group who have given everything to fix this democracy, who have sacrificed so much to rebuild the PDP into a force they can stand on and dream like I did in 1999 and build and create like I have done over the past years. These young ones have created platforms from nothing, gone to the farthest interiors with no help, and risked their lives and freedom in an increasingly dictatorial state to make sure that the structures we have built and sustained over the years don’t die because all of us young, middle aged and old need these structures to create our ideal, functional Nigeria.
Every day at the party secretariat, working and exchanging ideas with them both at the National and State level has been a blessing and I look forward to a successful election season with them.
I titled this article “What 2019 means to me” and I hope this article conveys that.
2019 means rebuilding for us and for Nigeria.
2019 is a time to take back our nation from the claws of destruction.
Lastly, 2019 is transitional; a new group of eager politicians are here and they want policies tailored to present realities. They are collectively insatiable in their quest for a rapidly developing Nigeria and they will put in everything to achieve this.
We are grateful to have these great young minds in the Peoples Democratic Party. And if you are as driven and as restless as the youth our party is blessed with and you are contemplating political participation, please come on board.
There are no masters in the PDP.
We are all here to serve and build together and there is ALWAYS room for great minds like yours in the Peoples Democratic Party.
You are welcome.
Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem