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[OpEd] What does Saliu Mustapha’s drive for youth empowerment mean for Kwara?

If events of the past few years are anything to go by, Kwara citizens can surely see that Mallam Saliu Mustapha has a profound interest in the development of the state. While this might be an easy course to chart, months before an election year, the antecedents are quite clear for anyone quite discerning.

To understand the Turaki of Ilorin’s intelligence and length of inclusiveness is to look no further than his response to incumbent Kwara Central representative at the upper chamber, Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who described the primaries that produced Mallam Mustapha as APC senatorial candidate as a “charade.”

He said: “We should avoid comments that do not unite the party and it’s members, notwithstanding our personal feelings. At all times, real leaders must show restraint in their outbursts.”

His words speak volumes as someone committed to doing something productive rather than engaging in trivial public exchanges that only end up heating up the polity.

But the Turaki embodies more than sheer inclusivity. What Kwara state residents can come to expect of the Turaki is a government that values youth empowerment and sports development, as well as defending and protecting the interest of Kwara Central in the Senate.

The Turaki does indeed love all. As a lover of sport, Mallam Mustapha bought 3,000 Kwara sports lovers a ticket to see Kwara United square up against MFM United on July 10. That gesture also included a match-winning bonus for the team which eventually motivated them to win the match.

On Sunday, Saliu Mustapha rewarded the Kwara team with $1500 for defeating AS Douanes of Niger Republic 3-0 in their first match in the CAF Confederation cup, he also pledged another $10,000 for the players if they make it to the group stage.

Turaki captures his interest in sport perfectly during the celebration of International Youth Day in August: “I have continued to see sports as a major platform to foster peace and unity among young people.”

That interest extends to youth empowering schemes. Because Mallam Mustapha finds that youth are instrumental to the growth of the country, he created a programme dedicated to advancing youths’ cause in Kwara state.

Mallam Mustapha has already said that his office would make youth empowerment one of their major legislative agenda if elected into office.

Already, youths are the major beneficiaries of the annual aid offered to small and medium entrepreneurs by the Saliu Mustapha Foundation.

As the Turaki of Ilorin, Mallam Mustapha shares a great love for the custom and culture of the Ilorin Emirate. At the 2022 Ilorin Annual Durbar, the Turaki’s N15 million and Sienna bus donation made sure that the celebration was befitting of the occasion and a memorable one for his people.

Also in an attempt to meet and share his Political Vision with young people, the Turaki of Ilorin engaged the association of Kwara Online Media Practitioners (ASKOMP) at his Ilorin residence on Monday 12 July, 2022. In the meeting, he promised to employ an all-inclusive representation that will be of great benefits to the youth, women, widows and other members of his constituency, if elected – a promise borne out of his love for the masses and the development of human capital in the area.

The meeting which was attended by young media owners and social media influencers witnessed the Turaki promising to foster and harness development of mining in Kwara state.

The Turaki’s humanitarian gestures are visible across the state. I couldn’t have a higher opinion of him than I already do.

Such is his concern for developmental issues in Kwara state and his commitment to resolving them within and without the capacity of a Senator. But what has endeared me to him, as it would many Kwara state citizens, particularly the state’s thriving youth community, is his deep and sincere love for youth empowerment.

“I believe that giving young people opportunities will help maximize their contributions to the development of our dear country,” he said during the celebration of International Youth Day.

Little wonder he was honoured by the National Association of Nigerian Students for his outstanding contribution to the development of the education sector in Kwara at the 40th anniversary celebration of the apex student body.

A real man of the people and quintessential lover of the masses with incredible passion for education, Mallam Mustapha keeps proving such commitment with the annual inter-school mathematics competition and debate hosted by his foundation and the thousands of students for whom he pays WAEC, NECO and JAMB in the state.

Mallam Mustapha is a rare gem whose motto in life is “For God and country.” His humanitarian activities and interest in result-oriented governance means that the people of Ilorin have struck gold…. A precious metal they would want to have in the highest lawmaking body in the country.

Kabir Agaka, a youth advocate writes from Ilorin.

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