Recently, the political atmosphere of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is changing. Relatively young people now aspire to occupy different political positions, from local government leadership, states house of assembly, the National Assembly to the supreme political position in Nigeria; the presidency.
The reasons for this shift are not farfetched. Ask an average Nigerian youth on the street, you might hear things like ‘we are tired of all these old and corrupt babas ruling us’ or ‘our president is old enough to be my grandfather’ or ‘I was 5 years old when Buhari was the then head of states’.
The tag, ‘not too young to run’ is now trending. It is clear that the political orientation of the youths is changing, thus being called the leader of tomorrow is becoming outdated and the saying that ‘the future is now’ is becoming more of a reality.
Who a youth really is for the purpose of Nigerian political discussion is not really clear. According to UNESCO, a youth is a person between the ages of 15 and24 years.
In the African Youth Charter, youth means every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years. It is not rare to see a man of 50 years who refers to himself as a youth in the Nigerian arrangement.
It will be safer to say that a youth is a young person; of course this definition does not include a man who is 60 years old. A role is the part that someone or something has in a particular activity or situation.
On the other hand, politics encapsulates the activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in government.
Therefore the question is what is the part or the responsibility of young people in influencing the actions and policies of the government in Nigeria.
The youth occupies almost 60% of the Nigeria total population, therefore, as a matter of necessity, they should be actively involved in the process of policy formulation and execution of their country that influences their lives, however it cannot be said with certainty that the youth are at the forefront of politics in Nigeria.
The youths are involved in Nigerian politics no doubt, but today their place in the whole process is not that which exerts respect and influence.
There are Ministries of Youth and Culture, advisers on youth matters at every level government, the question of whether the youths are the real players cannot be sufficiently answered in the affirmative.
There is a responsibility on the youth to take responsibility and be at the forefront of leadership that will shape their future.
1. Active Political Participation
To be actively involved in governance in Nigeria, there is a prerequisite active participation in politics, there are young Nigerians who are successful in the field of business, academics, journalism, entertainment, law and engineering with high managerial and administrative abilities, who can be trusted with the mantle of leadership in the country.
Omoyele Sowore and Fela Durotoye are good examples of young people who have built a name for themselves and are now aspiring to occupy the highest political office in Nigeria.
These young people may not win election at their first trial but a sense of political participation among our young people will have been activated.
The emergence of the youth at the helm of affairs may not directly solve all our problems but it will awaken a consciousness in our young people that they have a responsibility in the governance of the country.
Belonging to political parties, being actively involved, contesting political positions, developing ideologies and political alliances are necessary steps in which our youths must take as part of their political consciousness and activeness in the polity.
The old story in the political arena is that the youths are being used as instruments of violence and election malpractices, the story is now changing as young people now strive to become major players in our politics.
2. Nation Building And Policy Formulation
Nation building requires a lot of energy, expertise, a high sense of responsibility and productivity. But it is rather unfortunate that the major players are men and women who officially should have retired from the civil, religious or military service.
However, political participation of young people is necessary to be actively involved in this process of nation building. Young people are abreast with modern trends of governance, innovation and leadership, therefore there is a need for a leadership that is part and understands modern day realities.
So it will therefore become the responsibility of young people in government to develop policies that will that will not be outdated and meet the needs of tomorrow.
3.Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship
Some decades ago, getting a good education or a gainful employment was without difficulty. Today, the story has changed, getting a quality education comes with a huge price and getting a gainful employment may take forever.
Therefore there is a need to look elsewhere, the reality of entrepreneurship has enveloped our world and it is clear that not only our youths but our economy can thrive on entrepreneurship. Since 2016, Mr. Tony Elumelu, a young and successful businessman and the chairman of United Bank for Africa plc. empowers 1000 African youths with training, mentorship and a grant of $5000 to undertake their business. This is a feat that the Nigerian government has not come close to achieve.
If a young man, who is vast in business like Tony Elumelu becomes the Nigerian president, definitely, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship will become a priority.
The present day government has put some initiatives in place to empower Nigerian youths, but the truth is that these initiatives do not usually translates into real value for the Nigerian youths.
4. Science, Technology And Ict Development And Innovation
Science and Technology are re-branding our world, they are giving our world a new face and are rapidly changing the manner in which we live our lives and do things, from business to security, banking, agriculture and even domestic activities.
Young people understand better the role technology will play in building an efficient economy structure, security, and even fighting corruption. So, young people have a great responsibility in leading innovation and building this country in terms of technology.
5. Grassroots Political Development
There is a need to develop political consciousness at the grassroots. It has been argued that the young people do not have the financial strength to contest higher political positions; the grassroots will be a platform for them for them to develop their political test and abilities. Their performance at the grassroots can be leverage to higher political positions.
6. Development And Innovation In Agriculture
Today, agriculture is becoming one of the means to sustain our economy. Young farmers are emerging everywhere, their knowledge and expertise will be necessary to lead this innovation. Biotechnology is gradually developing and it is reported that it is being in some parts of the country. This technology will be necessary for commercial production.
7. Poverty Alleviation
Poverty is really a menace to combat in Nigeria. One of the ways in which young people will fight poverty in Nigeria will be majorly through empowerment and commercial agricultural activities. There is a saying in Yoruba that ‘Ti ebi bat i kuro ninu ise, ise buse’ this can be translated to mean poverty is half conquered when hunger is removed.
8. Developing New Political Ideologies
The political structure in Nigeria is such without clear political ideologies. Most of the political parties are tainted with corruption and massively influenced by relatively old people. This is the time for young people to develop new political parties that will be based on strong political ideologies that can move the nation forward.
The standard of education in Nigeria is not what it used to be. There is a need for revamp and improvement to meet global standards, most young people are products of these educational institutions and understand better the challenges the system of education is facing across the country.
It is a great responsibility on young people to be actively involved in the governmental process and save our educational structure.
Sports are for young people, without doubt, only the youths can lead meaningful developments. In times past, enough attention and resources on sports matters.
Nigeria is a complex and multi-ethnic society, it therefore requires a lot energy, expertise and sensitivity, the Nigerian youths have a lot do in achieving the nation’s dream.
The earlier they begin to rise up to this responsibility, the better for them and for the nation.
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