By: Ayeni Otito-Jesu Joshua
Nigeria is young at heart, but the people leading her are too old to relate with her youthfulness. She has lots of ideas, but they remain floating in the air because the only people she can tell it to are too old and stuck in their ways. These people have been around for too long to try new things and just the same way one cannot teach old dog new tricks, so is it very difficult for our old leaders to unlearn and relearn.
Esteemed readers, politics according to Merriam-webster dictionary refers to the activities, actions and policies that are used to gain and hold power in a government or to influence a government. Therefore, saying that youths’ involvement in politics is a realistic venture is saying that the youths are directly involved in activities, actions and policies to gain power or influence the government. But we all know that as of today, this is just a fantasy because according to Nigerian Youths Decide President 2019 (NYDP 2019) there is a dire shortage of youths occupying the political realm, either because of disempowerment or their perception that their involvement is like trying to dig water from a dry well, a fruitless task. Thus, not only is the fault from the old nerves, but also, like Shakespeare remarks, in our stars, our perception that we aren’t fit to lead.
However, it is often remarked that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a step, and unless we want to deny the realities that beset us, not one, not two and definitely not three, but many steps have been taken in this destination of making the youths directly involved in politics. Various platforms have been put in place for us to arrive at that great destination. For example, according to dailypost on 4th June, 2018, most states in Nigeria have so far passed the not too young to run bill to give legal backing to agitations to reduce the age of eligibility to contest for political offices in the country.
On the other hand, I make bold to say that in this journey, we can never arrive at the destination of making it real until we play out part and we play it right. Power is like freedom, it is hardly given unless strongly demanded and fought for. Youths in politics will forever be an unrealistic venture, the platforms notwithstanding, unless we make the right choices and so if I may ask, how many of us are ready to take the bull by the horns? How many of us youths have immersed ourselves in leadership trainings? How many of us have read a book on leadership? In fact at this juncture, it is pertinent that we ask ourselves, do we all have our permanent voters card (PVC)? Your answers to this question determine the stance of this article.
Also, it is no doubt that Nigerian youths are blessed with mighty potentials that can turn the world around. That big idea is in my head, that big idea is in your head, but you know what? It will never be ignited because we sleep too much. It is high time we woke up from our slumber for he that wants to be reckoned with in the day must not sleep all through the night. Nigeria has remained the same for long because we keep putting round pegs in square holes, we keep electing uninspiring, retired, non-innovative leaders that lack new leadership ideas that the country needs to get out of the shackles of poverty and economic melancholies. Many young people flock with them because of the little crumbs they get but I say: the real change Nigeria needs lies in the hands of her vibrant youths.
In conclusion, the argument has always been that youths are not mature and are inexperienced to handle a complex country as Nigeria, but as a matter of fact, this sort of assumption is an intentional attempt to blackmail the teeming youths into accepting that they are incapable of leading a nation. If Nigerian youths can come together to forge a common front, the country will turn around for good, and just like a Yoruba saying goes, “Agbajo owo Lafi nso Aya, owo kan ko gberu dori”, which means “unity is the key to freedom, if the majority of youths can unite to speak with one voice, there shall be terrific and groundbreaking achievements and just as Amilcar Cabral said, “ours is not to laugh nor lament, but to understand” and as youths, we have understood the situation as it is, then let us proffer solutions. Youth in Nigerian politics is a realistic venture and together we can realize it.