NIGERIAN YOUTHS LOSE AGAIN AT THE POLLS: LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

The waves of the 2019 Presidential and National Assemblies’ Elections are gradually subsiding. But ever wondered why majority of our young political warlocks met the same fate again and again?

 

Though with a boomed passion and a clear desire to be part of the political system, our young political aspirants were once again helpless with unwrapping the invisible cloth that has, for a longtime, blinded them and trapped them down the ladder of political succession. Many were left to their own happiness when, at the initial point, the momentum of these young political warlocks really gathered unquenchable storms. But today, it is really painful to reminisce on the failures of our young leaders in the just concluded elections

The idea of youths’ full inclusion in political leadership has become a popular part of contemporary socioeconomic, cultural and sociopolitical discourse in almost every part of the world, except in Nigeria, where the concept of youths’ full inclusion in political processes often ends at the polls and during electioneering campaigns.

Whereas the Institute for Youth, Education and Families states that “nothing is more important to the health of a nation’s democracy than the active participation and proper engagement of young people in representative government”, Nigeria as a democratic state has set a system that is obviously against this general belief: a system that is totally absurd and does not come to terms with youths’ effective participation in governance; a system that does not allow the masses to vote in peace; a system that totally frowns at credibility and replaces it with a monetized political ideology; a system that totally disagrees with morality and honour but welcomes political recklessness and misconduct; a system that has totally blindfolded our youths from seeing who is most credible, and thus follow who is ready to throw out unmerited riches; a system that is almost succeeding in locking up the political future of our great young people. In fact, the conceptualization, full realization and application of official youths’ participation in political processes in Nigeria are at great odds with the generally accepted rhetoric of democratic engagement.

Obviously, from the just concluded Presidential race where President Mohammadu Buhari outran the young and fresh minds like: Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Yele Sowore, Fela Durotoye and the likes, it has dawned on us that we have designed and set before us, a political structure for good people to fail, especially the “young bloods”. Before now, it seemed as if the Presidential race would be youthfully inclusive and easy, and our young political battlers appeared prepared to engage in the political battle with the elderly hegemonic political class who have been in the corridors of political power for decades.

The leaders who are holding us hostage, especially, at the apex of the federal level seem unconcerned and have succeeded in building anti-youth political structure by purporting thuggery, violence and all forms of malpractices during elections. Violence and electoral malpractice have thrived in our political history because the minds of the masses have been poisoned with the fast growing ideology of ‘MONEY FOR VOTE’. It now seems everyone has come to terms, and peacefully lives with these condemnable acts. Though we have laws established against these misconducts, what pains most is that our laws are always retrogressive. Even when we have constituted laws restricting these misconducts; their applications are always influenced by our elderly hegemonic political leaders who know they have no headway with them.

Most painful is that our leaders intentionally subject the masses into abject poverty, hardship and hunger so that the masses would be left with no choice other than to accept two balls of onions for their civic right. This is not satirical when we do not easily forget the recent trend in one of the states where a governorship candidate offered the masses few balls of onions in plea for their votes.

The monetized political environment which has changed and may keep changing the right sense of our pursuits is a major cause why the Youths lost again at the 2019 Presidential polls. Our young political leaders would continue to be victims of political failures if we fail to curtail financial excesses in our political chase, especially during elections. It is so painful to learn that the psyches of the masses have been changed from voting credible youth leaders who are not loaded enough with deep pockets to battle with the already entrenched political elders. Issue-based politics has been replaced by the evil notion of ‘take this money and vote me, irrespective of my credibility, capacity and past records’.

But for the sake of our future, the youths must stand against money mongers who parade themselves as leaders, and against all forms of electoral malpractices. Herein is an advocacy that must be supported by every patriotic Nigerian youth, which accounts for capital punishment for any politician found guilty of extravagant spending and bribery during elections. It can only be encouraging and safe for the youths to participate actively in politics when there is a restructured system that will make it difficult for thuggery, bribery, violence and malpractices to thrive during elections.

The Youths must also accept the truth that sudden emergence into the political circle would definitely lead nowhere but sudden downfall. An unprepared journey often leads to frustration and a disastrous end. To climb higher in the political ladder of this nation, then the youths must recognize and accept the power of continuous hard work, great planning, trainings and sustained collaborations.

The concentration is that of sustainability and not of a fluke; the visions are that of quality leadership, positive changes in the system, and of the masses’ choice. In order to live above these limitations, every aspiring political youth leader must pay the dues now by promoting consistency in different levels of their endeavour.

In conclusion, the same way selected Emerging Nigerian Leaders (ENL) in the Emerging African Leaders Program (ELP) of the Centre for Social Awareness, Advocacy and Ethics (CSAAE) are undergoing free, yet rigorous leadership trainings to save and uphold the political future of our great nation, every patriotic youth who wishes to climb the ladder of Nigerian political leadership must be equipped with the relevant skill sets, competencies and capacities to effect and sustain positive changes. It is only when our youths are equipped with these skills, and such rare organizations as CSAAE sustained, that our young future leaders can boldly navigate themselves into the vantage positions to clench the PRIZE the next time.

 Anuchirim, Shedrack Emmanuel Okwukwe (ENL)