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2023 election: The Nigerian youth must wake up – political analyst

By Adeyemi Oluwatosin Dotun
16 October 2021   |   7:12 am
The present reality of politics in Nigeria indubitably portrays a system that is under siege by the actions, inactions and reactions of the ageing political drivers of this country in policymaking and implementation. The current crop of leaders during the economy of this country is a paradigmatic shift from what was obtainable in the post-colonial…

The present reality of politics in Nigeria indubitably portrays a system that is under siege by the actions, inactions and reactions of the ageing political drivers of this country in policymaking and implementation. The current crop of leaders during the economy of this country is a paradigmatic shift from what was obtainable in the post-colonial era where the nationalists who agitated and achieved independence from Britain were in their youth, but in Nigerian politics today, the reverse is the case.

“The Youths are the leaders of tomorrow” is an aphorism that contradicts the leadership monopoly practised by ageing Nigerian kleptocrats because the Nigerian government of present is led by gerontocrats who have continued to sideline the youth in the political and economic climate of Nigeria. Leadership is portrayed as the right of the elderly in Nigeria irrespective of societal changes since independence.

Gerontocrats in present-day Nigeria have made participation and representation unattainable and inaccessible to Nigerian youth with policies that alienate them.

Taking a survey of youth representation in politics, the political leaders in present-day Nigeria are above 50 years of age. About 80% of the population of our political leaders are not youth because these same sets of political leaders are recycled. For instance, General Muhammadu Buhari’s first regime as a leader of Nigeria, although military, was in his youth day in 1983. It is a shocking reality that 32 years later, the same Buhari is in power as the president in a democratic system.

Now, the question “Is the youth of Nigeria under siege?” Wisdom, they posit, comes with age; but has this wisdom been transferred into Nigerian political and economic policies? Age should be an insignificant factor in the process of administration. However, the current realities show the problem of Nigeria is related to age as it limits or boosts the productivity rate of our leaders. Characteristics of leadership are experience, knowledge and legitimacy for the growth and development of the nation. Early leaders in the post-independence era were not aged, but youth driven by patriotism in their agitation for good governance.

The current leadership has eroded youthful participation and representation in modern-day politics with financial hindrance to contesting elections. The cost of elections is very exorbitant because of the money politics practised by Nigerian politicians. The financial ability to run for an election has made the opportunity to hold political offices a mirage. Injustice and maladministration have permeated society; thus, the youth are described as “all bark but no bite”. Many Nigerian youths harnessed and amplify their voices through social media to demand good governance from these leaders of an older generation. The country riddled with insecurities, poverty, economic degeneration and political instability is one of the many reasons Nigerian youths must wake up to take over the nation’s administration in the forthcoming elections. The development of Nigeria is in the hands of the young and active.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote that “the world belongs to the energetic” is apt in the struggle and fight for good governance in 2023. Nigeria’s leadership needs the young and energetic to catalyse development processes.
The country’s economy has been left in the hands of political hyenas and piranhas in the guise of old and supposedly witty leaders who are bent on killing the economy with obnoxious policies.

If this is not the case, how do you explain the exponential increase of dollars at the expense of naira? How do you justify uncontrolled and incessant killing and kidnapping rampant in the nation; what is the rationale for the increased level of insecurities and brutality citizens suffer under the governance of this administration? The political outlook of Nigeria under this administration is tarnished, and the need for a facelift by people who have the tendencies to redeem Nigeria’s image internationally is the youth who have been sidelined in the affairs of leadership.

This deplorable situation is a wake-up call from oblivion for Nigerian youth to harness their population to demand change with and inclusion of young innovative minds in the nation’s political system. The Nigerian youth population must present themselves as a force to reckon with in the 2023 election by their political activism by raising candidates with people-driven representation and uncompromised prospects for good governance. This political overhaul of gerontocrats will not be without resistance or barriers ranging from suppression to finance; however, the youth-led representation must be resilient in demanding a change of government with their vote and active participation in the 2023 election poll.

The youth must never be sceptical of the political and economic powers they wield; and if in doubt at any point, they should take a walk down memory lane on October 22, 2020, of the END SARS protest organised and managed by Nigerian youth against police brutality. Frightened by the cooperation of the youth that successfully managed the peaceful protest irrespective of their ethnic and cultural differences before the government sent out thugs to infiltrate the process, the government disrupts the protest violently.

A unified youth community pose a threat to their continuation in political office. The frightening nature of this unity has pushed them into exerting force and violence to suppress and disperse the youth with a blatant disregard for fundamental human rights.

That singular act shows the youth can take over; thus, this has kept them on their toes and given these kleptocratic and political elites the consciousness that they will be unseated, if the youths are determined to do so. The youth have been disenfranchised indirectly from active political participation and pursuance of leadership positions in politics. The leaders are quite aware of the challenges constraining the youth’s active political participation. For Nigerian youths to have a chance to participate in political affairs, they must have the financial backbone to contest for the ‘money politics’ run in Nigeria and making this opportunity affordable; they must pool resources together to oust gerontocracy.

In addition, the END SARS protest demonstrated by Nigerian youth displays a non-violent revolutionary paradigm shift that will massively infiltrate the political arena and unseat the present crop of leaders “ruining” the nation to take over the leadership mantle. The END SARS protest is a pilot scheme test-running the power of the Nigerian youth community.

While preparing for the 2023 election, the Nigerian youth must register their presence in the political milieu forming a political party that serves as a window of opportunity for the younger generation to contest elections. They must sensitise the public with visible and feasible manifestoes, innovative ideas and developmental goals for national advancement. Nigerian youth in the diaspora recording a level of success at the forefront of different disciplines abroad can come home and replicate the same in their country, it will facilitate a conducive atmosphere for national development.

This alone is a challenge for the Nigerian youth to wake up to their responsibilities to make their country fit and habitable for everyone. The youths in Nigeria must wake up to take over their future which has been truncated repeatedly by yesterday’s leaders that have refused to hand over power to capable and energetic youth that can effectively drive the nation’s affairs to land safely.

`The functionality of any country is in its economy through trade and commerce. As the world is changing to a global market, the future of information technology, artificial intelligence and financial technology is beyond the mental capability of these gerontocrats who have crashed the economy of this country through many obnoxious economic policies that seem to plunge Nigeria gradually into economic depression. The future of the global market is bleak in Nigeria as long as this crop of leaders are our economic drivers. Nigerian political kleptocrats lack the understanding of taking advantage of e-commerce and financial technology favourable to the economic development of the country because this can be deduced as the reason why the Nigerian government will ban cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria irrespective of the economic value.

They do not see its prospect to the growth of the economy; rather, they see it as an avenue to stifle the Nigerian youth through their source of living. What a pathetic way to victimise the so-called leaders of tomorrow! How many of these old leaders make their money from financial technology? They do not understand the workings of this new development that has given the youth financial stability where they have failed, and placing a ban on the financial independence of the youth will keep them in subservience to the whims and caprices of these kleptocrats. The youth are subjugated consistently by unfavourable policies implemented against their source of livelihood as a way of taking away their economic independence.

It was a deliberate attempt by these selfish and power-drunk bigots to keep the youth alienated and nonchalant about politics. The prospect for improved governance is that Nigerian youth must wake up to take charge of their political destiny, infiltrate the nooks and crannies of politics and decision making in the country, and participate actively in politics which is the first step for Nigerian youth to wake up from their political slumbering and take a step further to form and register a political party with a different ideology to that of the past. Fielding credible candidates that will create an enabling environment for political and economic growth will be the game-changer in the takeover.

Adeyemi Oluwatosin Dotun is a political analyst