FEATURE ARTICLE

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
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NIGERIAN YOUTHS IN 2018 - DO YOU NOT KNOW THE POLITICAL POWER YOU HAVE?

"A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims but accomplices" - a quote attributed to George Orwell as I understand it.

ou will by now be aware that political campaigns in one form or another have started for the forthcoming 2019 elections in our country, Nigeria. A number of young candidates are beginning to emerge, which thankfully makes a difference from the usual old men who are often recycled by the same old political parties. Some of the emerging new generation of Nigerian politicians have been condemned by you, the youths, before they have even been heard; Wow! The social media is littered with all sorts of vituperations and abuse thrown at this new generation politicians, some of whom are your peers, by the way!

Do you know how much power you have in your hands? Nigeria's population in 2018 is estimated at 195,875,237 which is an increase of 2.61% on the previous year; (source: Worldometres). As you all know, a large proportion of this is made up of you, the youths! As at December 2017 Nigeria is said to have a high internet penetration rate in Africa of 50.2% and 17,000,000 million of the population are Facebook subscribers; (source: Internetworldstats). Of the top ten countries with most internet users according to a 2017 report, Nigeria ranks as the 8th, which is higher than Mexico, Bangladesh and Germany; (source: webclick).

Are you seriously not aware of the power you have using the internet/social media to bring about the positive change that you desire? You can use this power of yours to make politicians listen to your concerns because 'YOUR VOTES COUNT'. Successful politicians in higher climes have tapped into the power of the youth and your affinity for the internet and social media to win elections. That is how much power you have!

When you wake up each day and reach out for your smartphones, which was probably hooked up to your charger next to your bed throughout the night, what is the first thing that comes to your mind as your scroll through your social media pages and apps? Where you are unemployed and still searching for employment or some form of regular source of legitimate income what are your thoughts as you look out through the window in the morning from your bed?

When scrolling through your smartphones with the data you can afford, have you ever stopped to think why your life cannot be better than this daily hassle for survival? Have you ever considered the fact that if you continue doing the same thing you will always get the same result? So, what is stopping you from being the political and economic change that you desire for yourself and the country?

Reading from commentary on social media it appears your sense of indignation has been assaulted by the very idea of your peers in politics in Nigeria. Apparently, some of our youths would rather the old brigade politicians than the new emerging younger generation of potential leaders. Why do you find the idea of a younger generation so flabbergasting as to evoke the sort of abuse you heap on them on the internet and social media?

Again, going by what one reads in the social media, your reactions/responses have been generally along the lines of "What does he/she know? Is this a child's play? What experience has he/she got?". Some of you have even suggested that your peers should go and start from their local council elections. Have you ever asked your folks what ages were the leaders of Nigeria in the 60s after we achieved independence from the British? Alternatively, have you ever looked beyond your backyard (Nigeria) to see what obtains in developed and developing economies. Let us take Africa, for example, how old do you think some ministers are in Rwanda? Are you aware that some of them are the same ages as some of you? For real! Are you aware that some of them are like you? Like you, they are youthful, intelligent, smart and imaginative. The difference between you and your peers in government in Rwanda is opportunity. They have been given a chance and not ignorantly considered as inconsequential/irrelevant!

What exactly are you doing towards striving for same or even any potential opportunity as your peers in Rwanda? Remember that you have today condemned and judged the new emerging but younger generation of politicians as not being worthy of your consideration as potential leaders of tomorrow. Are you not worthy of a better future to be determined by yourself and your peers? Are you so unqualified as worthy Nigerians to plan and think of advocacy using the internet and your social media apps on your smartphone to raise awareness that 'YOU TOO MATTER'. More importantly, that your ideas and aspirations count too in next year's coming elections? Who do you think should speak for you? The same old tired recycled politicians? A genuine leader thinks of the future, these same old recycled politicians think of the next election seeing as they will not be part of that future!

Let me digress a little: With so many potential opportunities ahead of you in life, at what stage in your youthful life did you learn to hate the Ibo, or Hausa or Yoruba tribes? Is this something you picked up growing up? Is it from the school/university curriculum, is it from home or from the older generation politicians who use tribalism to divide us? Where exactly? What have you achieved thus far in your young life hating other Nigerians of different tribes and tongues? Do you not share the same pain, aspirations, hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow for yourselves and the country? Please note that this is not a rhetorical question.

Did you know that my generation had a better life in Nigeria than the one you are having to deal and cope with today? Do you know you can help forge a better Nigeria for tomorrow for you if at all you really, really want it? Please reconsider your attitudes and rejection of the new emerging young generation politicians. Why don't you put them to the task, ask questions about their ideas for a better Nigeria, test their competencies with intelligent questions, do your research and find out what they stand for, etc? Like somebody once said in a video clip I saw on awhile back, "Nigeria cannot afford to replace old and 'ineffective' leadership with a young and 'ineffective' leadership"! Actually the word they used was 'useless'; I am just being polite here. Failing all these, then I guess you could always choose to remain as you are and keep hoping that a messiah will come 'one day', just like that, and make the country better for your generation. Should this be your attitude, and I hope not, may I be the first to wish you good luck with the 'runs' planned for tomorrow. The ball, as they say, is in your court now.

Not only do you need to let your voices be heard loud and clear, you also need to step out of the shadows, join hands with new generation of politicians and help forge a better future for Nigeria and yourselves. Most importantly having said all that, you need to back this up with action. Make sure you are registered to vote and get your Permanent Voters Card (PVC). As politicians of all ages (including the same old tired recycled ones) are beginning to cotton on to the very idea of the youths and social media, you will also need to watch out for #FakeNews. Do not fall for just about any rubbish shared or "forwarded as received" to you on social media. Do your own research, be smart! You are Nigerians, so you smart anyway (and I, for one, believe in your ability), so please apply yourselves.

As Alvin Toffler says, "The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but rather those who cannot learn, unlearn …and relearn". It does not only apply to business and technology, it can be adapted to how you determine your future in Nigeria. You cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of letting incompetent and old tired politicians determine your future, unless of course you say so. You should determine your own future. Yes, you can!

My hope is that you ALL are not really that inconsequential and/or of abject irrelevance in Nigeria's politics today, tomorrow and in the foreseeable future.


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