Nigeria Youths: Celebrated Abroad, Despised At Home

August 7, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

AFP photo

 

By

Jerome-Mario Utomi

 

It gladdens my heart to see the youths of Nigeria occupy some top diplomatic positions in global bodies, while also calling the shots in the development of affairs on the world stage. However, talented Nigerian youths are being celebrated abroad, yet it is disheartening that these same youths of ours are helplessly relegated to the background in the scheme of political and socioeconomic affairs of their own nation.

Nigerian youths, by no fault of their own, are often made to watch the political and leadership affairs of our nation from the political gallery. This lopsided architecture of our political theatre and onslaught against the youths was never by accident, but was perfectly drawn by our past and current crop of leaders this nation has been blessed with right from independence.

Youths on their part have visibly but ignorantly endorsed this underground plot through their actions and inactions, the continuous silence and feeling of comfort in the face of political leadership deprivation authenticating this position.

To sustain the above, the political class employs different strategies to ensure that the doors leading to the ‘’power arena” remain perpetually shut against the youths thereby making a leadership position a mirage.

A very typical and topical strategy that our seat-tight politicians are resting firmly on is the asymmetrical and unbalanced provisions of the 1999 Constitution. The smuggling of an entry age to seek any political position in the country at 35 years and above could be best described as defective, anti youth and retrogressive.

A glance through the 1999 Constitution shows that, for one to be the president, a Nigerian aspirant has to be at least 40 years and above while senators and state governors have to be aged 35 and above. This is a very big impediment to the political and leadership voyage of the Nigerian youths.

Our Constitution enshrined the above positions without recourse to the fact that whoever is old enough to vote, should be considered mature enough to be voted for. This provision alone has positioned Nigerian youths as a politically endangered species.

Gladly though, the hope of attending a leadership position as a youth was rekindled with the recent trooping of young Nigerians marching to protest against age barriers on political posts in Abuja, on July 25, 2017. This is a sign that our youths have woken up from their political slumber and are now ready to access the political window provided by the ongoing amendment of the 1999 Constitution by our parliaments. This to me is a very welcome development on the part of the youths and is quite commendable.

But if you think that the defective Constitution is the only hurdle kept on the part of the youths’ political emancipation, wait till you take a look at the fallen standards of our educational system. The political class knows that providing a sound education to the youths will get them empowered since knowledge is power; hence their decision to kill our education system.

Because of the deficiency in knowledge occasioned by the above plot, the youths are made to swallow whatever information they are fed, as they are made to believe that political leadership, which ought to be participatory, is meant for a select few.

As the Nigerian youths make good efforts to set themselves free from this political and educational bondage, our political adults are using all their strength, strategies as well as resources to end the youths at a political Golgotha.

Closely related to the above factor is the act of deliberate mismanagement of our economy, A very good case in mind also is the high unemployment level which the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in their recently released unemployment and underemployment index noted that the chunk of people affected by unemployment in any nation are the youths. Being unemployed makes them disempowered and presents politics as a game that is demagnetizing.

All of this is happening because our nation has unfortunately been blessed with a huge number of ‘coercive’ and selfish leaders as against truly ‘democratic, pacesetting and coaching’ leaders. Because of this arrangement you will also find our political space filled with leaders that cannot accommodate, coach or invite the youths to start learning leadership via a sincere political apprenticeship. They do not believe in the groaning of the youths, they have no idea of community organizing and are also lacking in the emotional intelligence needed for good leadership.

In all of these our leaders must remember that ‘there comes a time in life when the oppressed cannot remain oppressed forever.’ The youths are like an emerging market which must emerge definitely with time. What the youths need from our leaders includes support, direction, and provision of opportunities to undergo political apprenticeship and not oppression and suppression.

To the youths, they should remember that ‘freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is a fit testimony to this fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial.’ This is a call to action. This is a holy invitation to the youths. This is a call to the youths to crawl out of their shell and build the nation by becoming patriotic in seeking leadership. Let them be guided by the age long dictum that ‘a patriotic youth is a nation builder.’

Doing the above may seem difficult at the beginning but a definite and persistent push will perform the miracle. Let the youths roll the camera to record change by first making a demand. Such a demand, as in the examples above, made before our parliamentarians. This must be peaceful, objectified, consistent and persistent. Let the youths network to form a very formidable team in order to be taken seriously. Let our youths record all the youths’ giant strides the world over in order to replicate them here in Nigeria.

Even when the above is not easy as it requires lots of sacrifice and self-denial, the youths should be consoled by the fact that ‘human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Even a superficial look at history reveals that no social advance rolls in on the wheels of inevitability.’

‘Steps towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggles, the tireless exertions and passionate concerns of dedicated individuals,’ remarked Martin Luther King Jnr. To this end, let youths be well aware that this is not the time to show apathy or complacency, but the time for vigorous and positive political action.

 

 

 

 

Jerome-Mario Utomi

Jerome-Mario is a Social Entrepreneur and an alumnus, School of media and communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, Nigeria.

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