YOUTHS AND THE RACE TO 2019
BY ABDULLAHI MALUMFASHI
As the race for 2019 draws closer, many of our youths and others have been advocating for youths’ inclusion and perhaps complete takeover of government. I would have love to keep mute, but seeing that many have concluded that youths are the solution to all our ill-gotten worries, I can’t help but comment on this. Before I proceed however, there is the need to understand who a youth is. Youth is the time of life when one is young, usually from childhood to maturity. In Nigeria however, it refers to people aged between 18–35 years and they encompass almost 70% of the total population. These are the sets of people who many poise as the Messiahs of this nation, those deemed to solve our present problems. Many are campaigning for “a youth government”, and if possible, a youth president as they think would be a better alternative to our leaders right now. But, are the youths really ready to govern this country? Is their claim really true?
There is no doubt that youths have played a vital role in the politics of our dear country. From the struggle for Independence, to the 1966 coup which was executed by young army majors, to the counter coup, youths have played a major rule. Yakubu Gowon, the then Head of state during the turbulent period of civil war was in his thirties, so was Murtala Ramat Muhammad who was executed at the tender age of 37, while he was still the Head of state. In subsequent military regimes and the second Republic, youths have been highly involved. Elder Statesman, Maitama Sule was only in his twenties when he became a Federal Legislature, so also when he was appointed Minister and countless of others. Many youths have been political leaders in their respective regions and States then. Why am I saying all this? No doubt the role of youths in politics is very important, but some see that as enough reasons for youths’ comeback in 2019 or beyond. Sadly, and most regrettably, some of those campaigning for youths’ inclusion in government have cited the above examples as reasons with no any other one apart from that. These same people have failed to realize the fact that the youths of today are not the same with those of yesteryears. What has changed?
Unfortunately, the youths of today cannot be compared to those of the past. While those of the past were patriotic, diligent and have the interest of the nation at heart, this cannot be attributed to today’s youth. The former is largely corrupt or at least toy with the idea of corruption, and always ready to feast on the national treasury at any given chance. To most, governance is all about fraudulently enriching one’s pocket with ill-gotten wealth. The few are perhaps attracted by the juicy package of the politicians and their influence, rather than the will to serve. Greediness, avarice and selfishness which can be seen in students’ unionism seem to be the natural traits of some of our youths.
Incompetency is another problem facing the youths, as most of our students’ associations are sometimes held by incompetent individuals. Leadership skill is also lacking in our future leaders, perhaps due to lack of experience. The youths have also started exhibiting the so-called qualities of a good politician; deceit, lies and hypocrisy! One moment, we are busy dropping all kinds of abuses and insults on our leaders and the next, we are busy campaigning for the same people as soon as a chunk of the cheese is smeared into our hands.
Poverty, is another burning issue which has seriously dealt with our youths. Perhaps this is why they live off the pockets of politicians, and in return spread all kinds of false stories capable of tarnishing the image of an opposition. They are sometimes being used as thugs and all forms of political mercenaries during elections. Due to our naivety, we always think the easiest and quickest route to become wealthy is through politics.
Let us not forget about immorality. Our youths are highly involved in all immoral acts which has affected our leaders of tomorrow. From the obsession with sex, to indecent dressing, smoking and taking all forms of hard drugs, to thuggery, armed robbery, kidnapping and all forms of heinous crimes which has not been so in the previous years. Sadly, this has been a gauge for measuring how responsible our youths are.
The issue of unity is another hurdle too. Assuming we agree that youths are our saviours after all, who shall lead us, and under which platform? Is it the National youth party, or the National Movement for Youth or the so many other countless ones? The less incompetent ones vying for posts may be reluctant to give up for the experienced ones even after knowing so. Many believe that to achieve success, most especially politically,is to drag down their colleagues. Lack of unity among youths is in one word “embarrassing”.
I am always in awe when many people believe that youths are the rescuers of this nation, and I wonder which category of youth they are talking about. Is it the ordinary youth that is embedded deep in corruption and other fraudulent activities, or the youth who engage in all kinds of hooliganism, and violence in the name of unionism, or the one who engage in all other immoral activities such as vandalism, kidnappings, thuggery and so on, or the one who only uses the social media to spread all kind of false claims, and useless messages?
However, this can all change when we start by redeeming ourselves and getting rid of all corrupt acts and other immoral activities. We can start by gaining and demonstrating good leadership skills, and through striving to achieve success in our present endeavors, so that when the time comes, we would be taken seriously in leadership. We may need to do away with all forms of deceit, greed and lies. Learning to be creative and developing good entrepreneurial skills are also important so that we won’t need to depend on any politician for financial support. Most of us forget that we need the requisite experience to attain the highest levels. You cannot just start and expect to be at the top of the hierarchy without working for it or not having the necessary experience. There is also the need for unity among youths. Formation of a strong independent youth platform, not controlled or funded by any individual, with strong and able leadership that would carry all youths, irrespective of religion, tribe or ethnic affiliations might be a good idea.
As much as we have to, we can’t do it all alone. Whilst the biggest enemies to youths remain corruption and hypocrisy, we can eliminate them by shunning all acts of corruption and purging corrupt officials from our associations or organizations. The higher authorities have roles to play too, for instance, School authorities taking stringent measures against corruption in associations. However, all these cannot take place without proper enlightenment about the roles of the youth and the lapses associated. There should therefore, be public enlightenment and orientation both on Social Media and through organized lectures, leadership workshops, seminars, symposiums etc, targeted at the youths by patriotic citizens or even government agencies. Keeping in touch with government policies and activities would also aim to prepare us to study the lapses and then avoid it when our time comes.
The bad news is that if the present trend continues, we won’t be ready come 2019 nor subsequent years, as we would still not be taken seriously in leadership and when we finally do, we would experience numerous catastrophes and challenges. The good news however, is that with adequate measures taken, we can still overcome our numerous challenges and give these set of politicians a good run for their money. In the meantime, be patriotic and harbor good intentions with a clean mind when running for a public office.