By Benny Umoren
Youth are seen to be those that have passed childhood and are in their adulthood. According to the African Youth Charter, “youth” means “every person between the ages of 15 and 35 years.”
Politics on the other hand is the activity associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.
The activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries can also be seen as politics. But for the purpose of this write up we are limited to the first definition.
Youth are the bedrock of the society and their participation in politics cannot be overemphasized.
Youth all over attempt to realize some of their highest aspirations through politics and the Nigerian youth are not an exception to this fact.
The Nigerian youth was seen to be apolitical in the early days of Nigerian democracy until in recent years where their voices could not be denied and are still counting.
This is a plus as Nigerian youth account for over 60% of the total population. But there’s a worrying trend as youth participation in politics should be in defense of democratic norms and not based on the saying that “politics is laced with individuals and groups seeking their selfish interests at the expense of others”. What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. If the oldies are teaching us how to be partial and heat the polity, can we say no since we have more to lose as youths than them?
If truth be told, it is high time the youth channel their strength which they are known for to build instead of dividing the country more through politics, as it is a known fact that the country is already shaking across ethnic and religious lines. Hence youth participation in politics should be seeking ways to repair the system while driving their points home.
The youth need to note one thing, those politicians who pay them to fight and bring down their fellow youth have a way of sorting themselves out. They have their ‘meeting point’ where they settle their differences without the knowledge of the youth.
Inasmuch as the participation of youth in politics is of special importance, they should bear at the back of their minds that a positive commitment to democratic values is of fundamental importance.
Nigerian youth are idealistic no doubt, there is therefore the need for these ideas to be pulled together in favor of democracy, togetherness and unity. There should be no rooms for hate politics. They should pause and ask ‘where is our meeting point’? It is when they create the meeting point like the oldies that they can settle their differences and their common goals pursued.
Studies reveal that, the younger generation (youth) are more sensitive than the old generation, and they can use this sensitivity to force government to make policies that will be beneficial to all irrespective of religion, ethnic and political differences. Youth sensitivity in politics should be goal-driven to bring prosperity through employment opportunities to their generation. For prosperity itself tends to have the most consistent and positive relation with democratic involvement.
Nigerian youth participation in politics should be geared towards making sure the government are education and economic friendly, this is because the more education a person has, the more likely the person will participate and be satisfied in democratic process. Also, the more economically empowered an individual is; the more such an individual tends to support the government for more economic growth.
Reasonably, youth participation in politics should be to correct abnormalities, create their own ‘meeting point’, where they can tell the government their wrongs irrespective of party differences, stop the politics of hate, build a better democratic norm, preach unity, hold the government accountable and make sure our collective ideologies are instilled in the policies.
The truth is, there will always be a point of disagreement in politics but let’s learn to do better and teach ourselves new waves of democracy. Lets stop defending the indefensible, let the lies and propaganda end, let the pains reduce, let the accusation and counter accusation be minimized, lets’ show the older generation we can play politics better, let’s tell them we can’t be used and dumped anymore, let them know we have discovered our ‘meeting point’ to hold whoever is found wanting responsible, settle our differences after the fight and move on, let them know we are indeed the future of tomorrow and the survival of Nigeria democracy rests on our shoulders.
So before we call ourselves members of PDP, APC, APGA etc let’s not forget we are first of all members of Nigeria.
Benny tweets @BennyUmoren
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