Dr. Emmanuel Gandu, a veritable ace writer, joined me in crying aloud for the youth as we approach 2023, the election year. Gandu provided an analytical situation of our youths, challenges, and potential. As a corollary to my 2-part write-up with the above title, published a few weeks ago, for the reason of space, clarity, and style, I am paraphrasing Gandu’s excellent piece and sharing it with you, my esteemed readers to have a clearer perspective of the youths’ situation – a highly explosive time-bomb or virtuous asset for nation building, depending on how the situation is handled by the leaders, parents, and teachers. The piece is titled “Youths as the Sleeping Giant of Nigerian Politics: The Underlying Forces, the Potentiality, the Facts”. Happy reading:
In Nigeria, youths constitute 60% of the nation’s 200 million population with about 20 million out-of-school children, probably the largest in the world. Youth is a person between late childhood of 14 years to about 40 years of age. There is apparent docility for this category of the population to use their voting power to bring leadership change in Nigeria. Pertinent questions – why? What are the factors making the giant in the Nigerian youth keep sleeping? BBNaija votes by youths in the 2019 finale were higher than the collective votes won by both Buhari and Atiku 2019 presidential elections.
Can we see the implication? If the youths are united and vote for a common candidate, such a candidate can win the election in a free and fair contest. When will the Nigerian youths democratically snatch the political power of this country from these grandparents? Can they take the country out of the woods? While the growth trend in the youth population is on the increase, there is no commensurate rise in opportunities for them. The future is bleak unless something is done.
However, Nigeria is today facing mounting developmental challenges from simple to complex, and from ridiculous to unacceptable, which will be daunting for the youths to handle. First, Nigeria is globally notorious for being the third most terrorized country in the world (World Terrorism Index 2020) for three years running; shamelessly, the country was the poverty capital of the world in 2021; the seventh largest world oil producer with no single functional refinery for decades and spends trillions of naira for untransparent and ridiculous subsidy payment due to importation petroleum products; the only country in Africa that borrows money to service foreign debts.
Still, shamelessly, the authority is contented with the closure of public universities for the past 6 months and still counting due to industrial disputes that can be handled within 24 hours. Other negative vices impeding a stable future for Nigeria are the escalation of the increasing rate of youth unemployment, rising inflation, the collapse of manufacturing industries, decaying infrastructure, a jaundiced economy, a high level of insecurity, and a selfishly reckless set of the political class.
Consequently, these negatively contrived vices have given rise to a regime of criminality, an angry, frustrated, and hopeless youthful population who have been vulnerably exposed to the selfish and evil machinations of the religious, tribal, regional, and fantastically corrupt forces of the political class who keep beating drums of division and war. By their actions and inactions, this aging class of grandparents has put a knife on the things that held us together and we’ve fallen apart. Now that the 2023 elections are at the corner, will the youths step forward with their PVC franchise and take over their country from the brink or allow Nigeria to go into extinction? Nigeria’s youth’s nonparticipation in politics is rather a sad commentary, as is generally seen to be more cosmetics and rhetorical than having a stake. The majority of the youths can be best described as a pack of thugs to political godfathers/parties.
A good number of them do not register to vote. The few of them that register do not collect their PVC. Some of them that managed to collect their PVC do not go out to vote on election day. Consequently, these negatively imposed indices have not only given rise to, but wickedly imposed on Nigeria a regime of the angry, frustrated, and hopeless youthful population who have been vulnerably exposed to religious, tribal, regional, ideological, corruption, and the ignobly beats of drums of division and war.
Therefore, this discourse is an attempt to highlight some of the potentials of the youths with a desire to reawaken their consciousness towards positive participation in the political engineering of Nigeria – a consciousness that ought to be driven by a desire to assume their rightful place in positive nation building for a better tomorrow.
Inadvertently, this apathy may be attributed to the prevalent political system – a system of injustice, unequally leveled playing field, deliberate programs for youth exclusion, and a repressive, and highly monetized polity. These and many other forces have no doubt combined to become a cog on the youth’s wheel of progress.
According to figures released in 2019 by Pay Porte, the Nigerian youths gave a total of 240 million votes for the season out of which over 50 million votes were cast in the finale of that season 4 ‘Pepper Dem’ 2019 episode of the Big Brother Naija reality show. It then means that should the Nigerian youths come out to vote in any elections, and for that matter the 2023 elections, they can swing the votes in favor of their desired candidate.
Finance/economic implication of the Voting trend :
The youth’s performance of that 2019 BBNaija also revealed them spending a whopping 7.2 billion Naira on votes alone. According to Pay Porte, over 1.5 billion Naira was spent in the finale – an amount higher than a month’s allocation to three states of Nigeria put together. This indicates that Nigerian youths are not only talented but are also enterprising, innovative, resilient, creative, resourceful, and capable of holding their own any day and anywhere.
Despite the gloomy outlook of a bleak future, the Nigerian youth have the potential for a brighter future to rise above any challenges. If Anthony Enahoro, then a member of parliament moved the motion for the Independence of Nigeria in 1953 at the age of 30 years; If Yakubu Gowon became Nigeria’s Military Head of State in 1966 at the age of 31;
If Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu became the head of the failed Biafran dream country at the age of 33; If Murtala Mohammed became Nigeria’s Military Head of State in 1975 at the age of 37; If T.Y Danjuma became the Chief of Army Staff of Nigeria at the age of 38; If Emmanuel Macron became the president of France at the age of 40; Surely, the Nigerian youth have nothing to lose by getting involved in the politics of Nigeria.
Still, government, parents, teachers, and the environment are responsible for molding the youths and creating their future. Parents should take their God-given responsibilities of good parentage, very seriously. Government should invest in human capital to secure the future of this country.