Nigeria 2019: Youths, Apathy and Spurious Arguments

December 13, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS




Jerome-Mario Utomi



The good news is; we have the overwhelming support of youth votes….The bad news is; the youth never bothers to vote – Anonymous



As the February 2019 presidential, Gubernatorial, National/State Houses of Assembly elections come into view, the out-of-the-ordinary behavior demonstrated by various gladiators has exposed two major concerns, the first and most radical being the political players’ failure to give Nigerians a systematized/issue-based campaign with an outlined manifesto placed in a well-defined order.


Again, the ‘strategic’ political interplays, conflicts and considerable uncertainties of the past weeks have not only exposed the underlying ‘civil but cold’ relationship between politicians and Nigerians, particularly the youths, but underscored the usefulness of the attachment theory as propounded by John Bowlby, a British psychologist in 1958.


Essentially, Bowlby, in that theory pointed out that ‘if a primary caregiver responds inappropriately and/or inconsistently, the infant learns to assume that he or she is powerless to affect the larger world and that his or her signals have no intrinsic significance where the universe is concerned. A child he added, who receives really erratic and inconsistent responses from a primary caregiver, even if those responses are occasionally warm and sensitive, develops anxious resistance/indifferent attachment.


The above, as in the generality of mankind, describes the current disposition of the youths towards the leaders they once considered as caregivers. Experience from the previous broken political promises and erroneous indoctrination that they lack the means to act independently on their own initiative has left the youths active on social media without interest in, or enthusiastic about any aspect of political activities.


Adding context to this discourse, it is important to state that political participation is a broader category of political behavior and consists of those voluntary activities by citizens that are intended to influence the selection of leaders or the decisions they make but largely depends on the possession of such resources such as time, political knowledge and money.


While the above is acknowledged, it’s however important to state that the political challenge confronting the Nigerian youths is not limited to inadequate finance or time but goes ahead to include a deep-seated range of spurious arguments that revolve chiefly around political ignorance/illiteracy- a factor that consistently dampens political appetite to monitor political activities in order to grow in factual and conceptual political knowledge.


I do however sympathize with the awkward position in which Nigerian youths are politically placed and by our leaders and their lack of opportunity to enjoy the economic and social progress that flows from the democratic arrangement. That notwithstanding, political apathy among Nigerians should be of great concern for some crucial reasons.


First, aside from the fact that ‘power concedes nothing without a demand’, listening with real curiosity to some of the arguments by these youths for embracing political apathy, one will be genuinely dismayed as most of the reasons are not just verging on the ungraspable but are also spurious.


For example, youths at the various forums expressed dissatisfaction/frustration that the nation is governed by people that do not feel the pinch the common man is made to endure. Some have alleged that their feelings/opinions are not regarded by the government- resulting in a lack of absolute confidence in the leadership.


Admittedly, the above captures our political space but despite these scenarios, one point youths fail to remember is that when a majority of the citizens fail to participate during an election, unpopular and unqualified candidates may win the election. And when unqualified candidates win, it will not only hinder political, socioeconomic developments but also democratize poverty.


Similarly, in their attempt to defend the present political posturing, some youths argue that the vast majority of Nigerian politician/public office holders in their effort to secure their positions have politically disarmed the youths and kept the country divided, fostering animosity among the people.


But contrary to this belief, the truth of this word is that no leader/politician in thiw writer’s view disarms the youths; rather, when they find the youths unarmed with positive political interest/ideas, awareness or activities, they (politicians) are left with no other option than to equip them for illicit political responsibilities as nature abhors a vacuum.


Put differently, the qualities required for success are the same that undermine success.


Until the youths realize that ‘human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable’, they will not appreciate that the 2019 general election is not the appropriate time for complacency or apathy but a period for enthusiastic and positive action.


And without minding what others may say, the major factor preventing Nigerian youths from making political progress is primarily their inordinate love for instant gratification and inability to creatively form a productive collaboration that will turn them into a force that cannot be ignored.


In the same token, as someone who cannot support a position based on sentiment or allowed sentiment to becloud his judgment, the youths’ refusal to use their population advantage/demographic dividend to change the nation’s leadership from its head is saddening and their reasons illogical.


But in doing this, a point that they failed to remember is that allowing political indifference to flourish will translate to endorsement of the agonizing moment the nation currently faces and stands as an emblematic demonstration of their unbelief in the time-honored saying that ‘when purpose is present, nothing can block the determined soul from his rendezvous with destiny.’


Indeed, political apathy in whatever form/guise is not just antithetical to development but likened to neglecting what is actually done for what should be done. And as we know, any man who does such, moves towards self-destruction rather than self-preservation.


Significantly, when one looks at these challenges and asks how the nation can have this problem solved, the major response points at the doorstep of the government as the chief source of the solution to this dreadful situation.


Glaringly, this time is auspicious for our leaders to understand that ‘silence by the youths via apathy doesn’t smooth things over. It merely pushes differences beneath the surface and can set in motion powerfully destructive forces as when people stay silent about important disagreement, they can begin to fill with anxiety, anger, and resentment as long as the conflict is unresolved.’


To also make the 2019 general election bear the targeted fruit, Nigerian youths must realize that whoever would be too secure in the time of peace will often be found dejected in the time of war.


This fact no doubt points to the urgent need for Nigerian youths to develop a pragmatic collaboration which will represent a set of values that encourage constructive views as well as provide support for candidates with the interests of moving the nation forward.





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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