The 250ml liquid antiseptic on my table as I write now commands attention. The product is called “YESS Antiseptic” and bears the tagline “always protecting”. It is meant “for external use only” and there are directions on the capfuls needed for bathing, cuts, abrasions, bites, cleaning floors, WCs, etc. There is the necessary advice to “keep out of the reach of children”. It comes complete with manufacturing and expiry dates.
The antiseptic is not the only product on offer. The products range from carwash solution, liquid soap, air freshener, perfumes to sanitizers.
The marketing of these products is remarkably done by the political support group known as Youths Earnestly Seek Soludo (YESS). I found it compelling that unlike other political groups who mostly act up as hangers-on to their principals for monetary support, the members of YESS initiated the production and marketing of the items to raise the needed funds by themselves.
It was the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba that drew my attention to this marketing phenomenon.
The Convener of YESS, Dr Nelson Obinna Omenugha, is as resourceful as they come, a first class scholar who defied the COVID-19 pandemic to defend his intercontinental doctorate degree recently.
Dr Omenugha counts on the support of determined workers such as Joy Asobi, a broadcaster and media consultant. Asobi reveals that since most Nigerian youths are not gainfully employed it is crucial to initiate the marketing works so that they can perform optimally.
“The intention is to get the youths to be skilled so that they can help themselves instead of just collecting money,” Asobi said.
A community of approximately more than four million youths, YESS is ever ready to admit joiners, and the harvest has been bountiful. The group thrives in all the 21 local government areas of Anambra State, but there is of course greater prominence in the cities of Awka, Ekwulobia, Nnewi and Onitsha.
Given the diverse partisanship of Anambra politics, Joy Asobi admits that it was not initially easy to get the people to accept the new products until the quality and the determination of the canvassers won them over.
The goods are sold to members of the movement at prices ranging from N450, N500, N750, N1000 to N2000, and they are encouraged to sell at requisite mark-ups for gainful profit.
Dr Omenugha’s charge goes thusly: “Youths Earnestly Seek Soludo (YESS) is a movement of young men and women who align with the ideas and personality of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, and are strongly working towards ensuring his emergence as the next Governor of Anambra State.”
The vision statement is crisp: “To bring together like minds to invest their ideas and resources towards mobilizing support for Soludo within and beyond Anambra State.” The mission reads: “To mobilize support for Soludo and his leadership towards achieving a Viable Anambra of a new dimension.”
According to Prof Soludo, “Politics is too serious to be left to those who call themselves ‘politicians’. It is our collective destiny. Unfortunately our politics is broken.”
The fact that the youths are ensuring that Prof Soludo’s thesis is being given the needed praxis through YESS as powered by the one-time student activist, Nelson Omenugha, deserves considerable attention.
The critical factor as Joy Asobi submits is that the youths should be skilled enough to help themselves instead of being forever dependent.
“The belief of the youths in Soludo can in no way be shaken by the shenanigans of inter and intra-party politicking,” Asobi asserts, stressing: “We know and we believe that Soludo will be chosen as he is very obviously the best qualified aspirant and candidate. We believe he has the contacts to take Anambra State to the next level and the deserved future. He has what it takes to make Anambra State a one-stop destination of economic development.”
The group has on its own made a cash donation of N360,000 to the Anambra State Government toward the fight against COVID-19.
The striking thing in the end is that while partisan politics may end in winners and losers, the business of making and marketing antiseptics, liquid soaps, carwash solutions, air fresheners, perfumes and sanitizers can give an entirely new meaning to life to these youths.
“The youths who are engaged in the enterprise can never be the same again,” said Ideke Castro, a much sought-after computer consultant.
The drive of Dr Omenugha, the Convener of YESS, is so infectious, and there are no doubts whatsoever that Anambra State, and indeed Nigeria will hear more from the irrepressible young man in the years ahead. It is rare to find in intelligent young people the unique combination of thinking and doing at the same time.
It is little wonder then that Dr Omenugha has chosen Prof Soludo as his leader and hero.