Bello Bala Shagari, Yariman Shagari, 30, is an entrepreneur, a youth leader and the President of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN). In this interview, Shagari highlights his zeal and outlook for the Nigerian youth.
Is being the President of NYCN a dream come true?
I never really had any desire to be a leader whatsoever, but as time went on, I began to feel obliged to get involved because I was tired of watching and complaining. I wanted to contribute my own quota to our national development too, thus, I saw the National Youth Council of Nigeria as a platform to do so. A powerful organization which I believe has been neglected far too long due to bad leadership. I wanted to be the one to fix it! Because I believe that if we cannot fix the Youth Council, we cannot fix Nigeria.
Your leadership has seen you reach other countries. What have you learnt from them?
So far, I have been to Germany, England, United States, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Algeria and Sudan. But officially I’ve only been to Algeria and Sudan, while other places, I delegated other members to represent the council.
One of the most fascinating trips for me was going to Algiers for an African Union meeting. The people were so disciplined and organised that I often wonder if everything is just staged for me to see. They have peculiar characters with the advanced countries that prompted me to forget that this is Africa.
What’s the most difficult part of your leadership?
I often tell people that my job is far more difficult than that of a governor, even though I don’t know what it feels like to be a governor. In my case, Nigeria as a whole is my constituency and the organisation is run like an NGO. It is not easy to manage diverse people especially the youth.
I inherited a council that has nothing, not even credibility. This means we have to build something new with rotten tools. It’s not easy.
You were recognized as the youngest president of NYCN. What does this hold for you?
I feel flattered by such description. I actually don’t consider myself the best, and I feel too old to be the youngest but yet I am. I believe I did my best to sell my ideas and beliefs. Sometimes I wonder how I got here. It’s quite miraculous given how complex the youth council is. There are a lot young Nigerians more talented than myself. But I just happen to volunteer myself and I succeeded in winning the election.
How would you describe your entrepreneurial side?
In my private capacity, I am the CEO of Barcode Multimedia, a company I founded in 2012.
What is your vision for the Council?
My vision is to have a vibrant youth council, which will unite the youth of Nigeria and deliver them from the bondage of political starvation. The youth of Nigeria need a true voice, not a voice that is cowardly or even bought at a price, an objective that can only be achieved when we regain our credibility and integrity in the eyes of the world.
Would you encourage other youth to follow your tracks?
Activism is not a profession, it is a cause. My advice to them is that they should know why they are in this struggle. It is not an avenue for one to get enriched, but to serve the interest of the younger generation. We cannot continue to be begging for what belongs to us. We have to respect ourselves, and demand for what belongs to us.