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Nigerian Youths: Agents of Political Thuggery? – By Victor Gotevbe

It is worrisome when we see a critical mass of the Nigerian demography manifests bankruptcy of moral values.

This critical mass of people are predominantly young. They are powerful and can influence policy formulation and decision making if allowed.

Unfortunately, it has not been the case for our beloved country, Nigeria, which has witnessed the recycling of mostly old and corrupt politicians.

They win elections, though not necessarily based on merit, but on rigging, violence and snatching of ballot boxes just to mention a few.

Interestingly, it is as if many young Nigerians are saying loudly, we are available agents that can be used to perpetuate the desires of the corrupt politicians who are the paymasters.

It is not an understatement to say that young people have got skills, energy and passion, and can contribute to the growth of any Nation or State.

We have seen several countries where young people solicited for the election of young people into political offices. A good example would be the election of the duo of Emmanuel Macron of France and Justin Trudeau of Canada as President and Prime Minister respectively.

Nigeria is not an exemption. Yes, even the famous ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Bill passed into law about youths running for political offices has not really changed the political climate significantly, as it is still seen as a huge joke in Nigeria by the old stock of corrupt politicians.

Today, we have witnessed more than ever the increasing menace of political thuggery in Nigerian elections.

A good number of these young people have become agents of political thuggery.

Now that 2019 elections are fast approaching, we are witnessing how Nigerians youths are typically engaged to carry out the evil deeds of their would be pay masters.

I find it difficult to dissociate political thuggery from cultism. As a matter of fact, political thuggery to my mind is one of the manifestations of cultism. The danger of cultism in Nigeria has reached an alarming stage that requires affirmative actions from all stakeholders.

It is worrisome that what many years ago was restricted to educational institutions, is now spreading like wild fire into various communities and has shown no respect for educational degree arsenals. Hence, any young person has the potential to be recruited and or initiated into secret cults that are ravaging several communities across the country.

Undoubtedly, the scourge of cultism has claimed many lives of our youths and no serious Government can fold its arms and allow it to continue.

It appears that the various efforts at curbing the menace have yielded not good enough results. Some families are shocked to find out that their children, nephews and nieces initiated themselves or are forced into cult groups.

These groups are so violent and can go to any length to carry out their assignments even at the peril of human lives.

It is no longer news that the emergence of secret cultism has been characterized by some violent activities which include, physical torture of new recruits, maiming and killing of rival cult members and elimination of real and perceived enemies.

Imagine a country with over 200 million people being distorted by cultic practices.

Lagos State as at today, has seen the rise and rise of these cult groups.

Several years ago, their activities were essentially covert, disguised and were usually carried out behind closed doors.

Today, some young people brandish their membership; are proud of belonging to a cult group that can execute mysterious activities having negative effects on both members and non-members alike.

These groups with their various names usually embark on selfish ends, commit brutal murders and threaten law-abiding citizens. These groups are turning our communities into hotbeds of unbridled gangsterism.

Sometime in January 2016, a 16-year old boy was arrested in Ijegun Egba, Satellite Town, Lagos, confessing to being a cultist and went ahead to reveal the modus operandi of the cult groups.

Satellite Town that was once a peaceful community has had its own spill over of the menace. People mysteriously disappear, neigbhours are killed, houses are burgled without interventions by the security agencies, people are waylaid and even when they run to security agencies, these reports are treated with kid gloves or just explained away that there are no resources to manage the rise of these miscreants.

When these cultists are arrested, their sponsors use their network to cause their release, and they come back stronger to the community, wreaking unquantifiable havoc on innocent residents.

It is therefore not surprising that these politicians from major political parties in Nigeria give support to these young people to carry out heinous crimes against humanity.

They go to any length to empower these young people to take out their political opponents clandestinely and sometimes openly. It is either they are murdered or they are continuously threatened to cower in to their demands.

Speaking recently to a former cultist (name withheld) turned pastor, he shared in confidence that it was a do or die affair mentality. It is no longer a seasonal job when you successfully carry out the wishes of your ‘Employer’ (corrupt politicians).

Instead, you remain on the payroll of these politicians. It is almost like confirming the political prophesy of Friedrich Nietzsche who propounded the theory of Transvaluation of Values.

In other words, vices are now considered to be virtues and virtues are seen as vices. To be a moral agent is a weakness and to an immoral agent is a hero.

A number of reasons have been attributed to account for the incidences of political thuggery in Nigeria, such as poverty, unemployment, financial attractiveness of elective positions, the value system of wealth accumulation, and ineffective security agencies.

Political Thuggery impedes public responsibility of elective officers and therefore is a bane to good governance in Nigeria. There is no doubt that it increases the crime rate and the emergence of credible candidates in elections.

It remains a threat to the achievement of democratic dividends and exercise of our civi rights and responsibilities in Nigeria.

Therefore, I would like to use this opportunity to make a clarion to the government to invest in workable programmes that will enlighten our youths about the dangers of political thuggery  and cultism, and of course creating economic opportunities for them, so that they can shun violence and embrace peace.

I would like to also call on the Federal Government to boost security as the security apparatus in place seems ineffective. The need to secure lives and property and to clamp down on any of these corrupt politicians irrespective of status or influence cannot be overemphasized.

I believe strongly that young people can resist the temptation of political thuggery if their energies are channeled into productive use. Then, there will be no need to answer the question: “If Nigerian youths are agents of political thuggery?”

Victor Gotevbe is a Media Consultant. He writes from Satellite Town, Lagos

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