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Youth and audacity of noble rage

By Alade Rotimi-John
16 October 2022   |   2:45 am
Youth by nature believe they are naturally endowed to take over from the generation preceding theirs. Their impassioned attacks for change often put them on a collision course with their elders

Youth by nature believe they are naturally endowed to take over from the generation preceding theirs. Their impassioned attacks for change often put them on a collision course with their elders even as they tend to oppose all forms of paternalism.

Many of them visibly participate in affairs and events of the moment, applauding what they consider to be right and denouncing what they perceive as wrong. They are immensely appreciative of the pedagogical value of their alter ego teachers or instructors. They imagine that the real authority for their consciousness is located in the unyielding principles imparted to them by their bolus magista who often give them a fund of unclassified and, sometimes, unrelated knowledge for projected ideological combat.

It may be observed that the relative extraordinary excellence of many a youth often produces a level of attainment higher than that of the preceding generation. Also observable is the greater resistance to change in substance and in the procedure by the earlier generation engendered by the prevailing system whose heavy emphasis is on “tried and tested” fundamentals.

The unrepentant attachment to old ways, the dislike or suspicion of new approaches and an unwillingness to recognise emerging principles which in themselves distinguish yesterday’s orthodoxy from today’s dynamism are the practical or narrowing influence of every preceding age on its successor generation.

The dynamic force of politics, industry and morality has pitted a self-indulgent or self-satisfied generation with a socially-injured, self-assertive and bewildered youth population.

Many insightful commentators have lamented the scant concern about broad aspects of public policy even as many people are almost always conservative with respect to the requirement for attitudinal change towards the youth. Many are instinctively opposed to inevitable change.

Even as the Nigerian youth population is conservatively put at about 65% of a controversial demographic outlay, its vitality, vehemence or potential power is often under-rated. Politicians tend to ignore or take for granted the infinite relationship of mind and matter that inheres within the youth demography.

For several reasons, the conversation regarding the central place of the youth in the power equation or the whole exercise of the democratic project has been guarded or restrained. The youth are not consciously courted or sought after.

Most times, there has been considerable tension arising from the institutional cavalier attitude towards the youth. Except for a number of programmed token twitches, young people do not find entrance into executive positions of state or of power points in the political party system. Some transcendental experience is yet required of them for them to occupy offices that the Constitution has self-gratifyingly prescribed they are fit and entitled to aspire to or occupy.

Youth unorthodoxy ought not to be feared but perceived as capable of broadening or deepening the democratic mix as youth insight into history and human nature is positioned to greatly enrich the quality of democratic participation.

The alleged peevish or irritable circumstance or temperament of the youth is unarguably an added advantage regarding the alternative complacent, uncritically-satisfied or apathetic disposition of the elderly politician. Youth’s proverbial gaiety, enthusiasm and spontaneity ought to introduce a delightful or thrilling dimension to the staid political party household.

The long-term result of the gratuitous sidelining of the youth population’s participation in the levers of governance after the pre-independence political era has been an economic and cultural disaster. But the worst legacy is the inferior education bequeathed to a compromised generation.

The elite consensus to continue to run Nigeria the way she has been run or to completely run her aground is today being visibly challenged. This new wave against the desultory rule is epitomised in a youth movement fortuitously led by Mr Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State.

Large hordes of young people are milling around him for translating their generational yearning into reality. Their intimidating large number is threatening the comfortable win zones of the established mandarin politicians.

Youth enthusiasm to vote is at an all-time high. The touted structure of the party system is threatened to abandon or, in the alternative, continue to depend on dubious or fallacious claims of a “solid” underlay.

As if to draw attention to the seriousness of the youth blitzkrieg audacity, many entrenched or status-quo politicians have alerted their complacent colleagues to the danger they face in taking the youth movement for granted. The battle for the soul of the nation no longer subsists within the consensual elite confines of the APC and the PDP.

The challenge against them has the ability to obliterate their nuisance value and consign it to the dunghill of history. The young people are strategically combining even as the power elite are mischievously conspiring among themselves on how to continue their stranglehold on the politics and economy of Nigeria or how to put the shine off the translucent rescue intervention of the youth.

The all-time aphorism that when a people’s power is actuated, structures are bound to crumble is unfolding in its manifest truism in Nigeria. It will not matter whether the youth movement wins or loses the 2023 presidential election. And there is no reason why it cannot win if the election holds.

The movement’s intrinsic purpose would have been achieved as its social and political consciousness efforts against cant or empty hypocritical promises become popular or continue to cultivate the favour and support of the ordinary people. Among the people, there is creative indignation that cannot rest. It has been calling for justice.

But the Nigerian justice system has rendered many of the self-evident truths respecting public office holders’ infamy stillborn. And so the untoward activities of public men have remained largely in the realm of conjectures or speculation, to the utter chagrin of the knowledgeable youth population.

The persistent efforts of the press and of civil society organisations to draw out malfeasant public officeholders regarding their looting propensities,  for instance, have generally not been productive. No thanks to a pliant, mischievous or hypocritical public affairs misconduct investigation machinery.

Thankfully, the level of disenchantment is throwing up new vistas, particularly among the youth. Feeling short-changed and uncared for, the Nigerian youth have decided to bear their fortunes in their own hands. They appear undeterred by the psychological warfare being waged against them respecting the alleged absence of a putative “political structure “ in their ranks.

The Ruto story of ascendancy without a “preexisting structure” has emboldened or confirmed as politically correct the reasoned view that the people are the proper or cognate structure for real change.

The youth of Kenya has led the way. The objective condition for the replication of their feat in Nigeria stares us starkly in the face.

Rotimi-John, a lawyer and commentator on public affairs wrote vide lawgravitas@gmail.com

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