Don’t labour in vain, learn from history
Obviously, the youth does not form hundred percent of the population of this country. But undoubtedly they are hundred percent of its future. Youth is the symbol of dynamism, growth and sustainable development of any nation.
The real agent of change are not political or corporate leaders but the youths. Whenever the words Youths and dynamism are mentioned, my mind draws to the exploits of Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo before and after the formation of Nigeria Youth Movement to the formation of Action Group as the political vehicle to achieve their set Goals.
Chief Awolowo wrote in his autobiography that “ The Nigeria Youth Movement was the first nationalist Organization ever to make real efforts to bring within its fold all nationalist and politically conscious elements in Nigeria.
The imperishable impact which this movement made on political thought in Nigeria has never been fully appreciated. Since 1945 when the Richards constitution was introduced, the speed with which Nigeria has sailed forth in its political destination is so fast that the older politicians of the days of the movement tend to forget, whilst younger breeds has been so immersed in the problem of the present and of the immediate future that they have had no time to inquire into and to find out the truth about, the political happenings of the past.
The result is that there’s a good deal of confusion of thought on the part of most students of Nigerian politics, as well as inevitable misinterpretation of the conduct of some Nigerian political leaders.
An objective study of the rise and fall of Nigeria Youth Movement is, in my view a pre- requisite to the proper appreciation and interpretation of the evolution and development of political ideas and parties in Nigeria since 1944.
One brilliant English writer once said that politicians should never read history books and should cultivate short memories. He believes that many owe their downfall to misguided attempt to translate the lesson of the past to current policies. In one sense it appears like a cynical advice and in another it’s a wise admonition.
I believe we must read history books and do more than merely read them, we must learn, mark, and inwardly digest what we read. We must do all these if we would avoid a repetition of the costly mistake of the past and benefit from the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
Nigerian youths must learn from the mistakes of the past, especially in the struggle for the enrollment of responsible and responsive governance.
The most recent EndSARS protests and agitation should be an issue of concern for discerning minds. We must ask questions as to how a much applauded, well coordinated protests ended in tears, blood and sorrow. Had the organizers looked inwardly and evaluate where they got it wrong?
Struggles are not always spontaneous. Struggle is much like war, it requires planning and strategic thinking. I believe that if the organizers of the EndSARS protest had been realistically strategic and experienced they wouldn’t have made a faceless leadership option. With a well-coordinated leadership, the momentum of struggle wouldn’t have fizzled away just like that.
Unfortunately, the social media which has become a potent tool for mobilization is not well utilized for the purpose of reorientation of our new generation of political activists. It must be emphasized that love for one’s political party should not mean being blind to its social faults or deaf to its social discord. The activities of our youths on social media in defense of various political parties and politicians showed that we’ve lost the basic ideas of nationhood. We’re where we are as nation today because citizens especially the youths voted based on religion and ethnicity and not principles.
Ordinarily, the interfacing of politics and religion is supposed to raise the consciousness of our people. But unfortunately the reverse is the case. Politics, mixed with religion is responsible for the ugly situation in our country today.
Politicians gather votes based on what the people fall for, and not what the politicians stand for. It’s time to ask basic questions about plans of every political party on the issue of the economy, corruption, restructuring, education, security and social security issues. Beyond sentiments, every politician must be assessed based on past records and achievements.
History has taught me that whoever that will win Nigerian presidency has to be a member of a well structured political platform. It’s practically a false hope and incredible to think that with the present governance, Political and electoral system, 2023 election will not be different. I will like to go down memory lane on the anatomy of the elections conducted in 1998 and 1999 in the cause of transition and civil rule in Nigeria. The empirical and verifiable fact states that the P.D.P won majority of the local Government elections followed by the APP and the other party A.D.
The election result made it clear to the politicians of the other two opposition political parties that only political alliance, and coalition can compete with the victory of the P.D.P at the elections. That was what led to the alliance between the AD and APP leading to the presidential elections in 1999. Although the P.D.P won the election, but it was keenly contested.
My point is that it’s most practical to build strong political alliance and coalition going to election if a serious impact is to be made. This played out in subsequent elections until 2015 when a strong coalition of political parties and interest defeated the PDP at the presidential elections.
The obedient servants of Peter Obi presidency must wake up to the reality of Nigerian politics. Taking over the social media space does not translate to votes. Politics is a practical game of physical and psychological mobilization. I hope our obedient youths will not get disillusioned after the February elections. Just like we saw after the EndSARS protest and the struggle for better policing abandoned due to inexperience, Nigerian youth must realize that struggle gains momentum with time, backed with consistency. No wise man is afraid of thousands of lions led by a sheep.
The patriotic resolution of the northern APC governors that, in the spirit of unity and equity, the Presidency should be zoned to the South is enough inspiration to me that out of every selfish politician there are statesmen. It’s time for Nigerian youths to take up the gauntlet and get involved in practical politics. The laziest way to play politics is on Twitter and Facebook. In the interest of justice, equity and unity, we must all work assiduously to ensure that presidency comes to the South after the completion of eight years of this present administration. However we all must learn from history that all hands must be on deck.
Adeleke is an engineer and wrote from Agbowa Ikosi, Lagos.