MAKING COMMON SENSE
By Ben Murray Bruce; email@example.com
When you take a critical look at the composition of the present administration at the federal level, the only place you can find youths is in the National Assembly.
There are no youths in the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari otherwise known as the Executive Council of the Federation. All the ministers are either middle age or senior citizens.
The same is true for the judiciary. The only place you will find a few youth is in the National Assembly and especially the House of Representatives.
Now, I want you to ask yourself why we have this reality despite the fact that over 60% of our population are young people of 36 and under.
I have often pondered this challenge and the reason always eluded me until I became active on social media sometime last year.
You see, Martin Luther King Jr. once said ‘When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.’
The old breed politicians who put Nigeria where she is have been plotting and continue to plot, but rather than counter them by organizing yourselves and by planning to mobilize into parties and get elected, what most of our youths do is to tear each other down on social media for the very same old breed politicians who the youth complain about.
I call it the crab mentality. As you may or may not be aware, if you catch crabs, you do not need to cover the basket or vessel where you put them in because once one of them starts to climb out, the others will drag it back down and so they act as a police against each other for the benefit of their oppressors.
Another challenge our youths have is their outward focus. This was thoroughly put on display during the last US elections. Nigerian youths who fought each other over whether it was appropriate or not for our own presidential candidates to refuse to debate had strong opinions on the US presidential debates.
Our youths took opposing sides and fought each other using the vilest of words to describe those on the other side as if Hillary and Trump were vying to preside over Aso Rock.
We show this same zeal for European Premier Leagues and it is not unusual to read about Nigerian youths fighting or in extreme situations, even killing each other, because of rivalry over their European football clubs.
If our youth were to channel this same zeal to building unity amongst themselves so they can. have a common front in 2019, there will definitely be a change in the political structure of Nigeria.
Let me give you a recent example. A couple weeks ago, the Nigerian Communications Commission had instructed GSM firms to increase their tariffs. As to be expected, this move sparked outrage amongst Nigeria’s youth who rose up spontaneously against it and when the NCC saw their reaction they backed down.
Why do you think they backed down? Was it because you were angry? Was it because you guys are numerous in number? None of the above.
They backed down for one and only one reason. Nigeria’s youth were UNITED in their rejection of the data tariff increase.
You see, nobody is afraid of your numbers or your anger or your political affiliation. What they are afraid of is your unity because when you unite, nothing is impossible to you.
So settle it in your minds that you are all Nigerians. Do not look at each other as ‘aboki’ or ‘IPOB’ or other such derisive names you use to label each other on social media.
If you do not do this, then 2019 will come and you will continue being bag carriers and PAs for the old breed.
Let me ask you a question: How many of you youths believe that a youth can be President in 2019? Be honest.
Now let me ask you another question. How many of you believed that Donald Trump would win the US elections?
You see, as Nelson Mandela said, ‘it always seems impossible until it is done’!
Let me tell you from my experience, if you do your part, divine forces will do the rest.
No matter how bad a ruthless government is, it is always going to far better than a youth-less government. No matter how young at heart a senior citizen is, he cannot know the needs of the youth as much as a youth.
In fact we can say that if it is not a youth, it cannot be a youth!
Youths do not even have to go and form your own party. Democracy is a game of numbers. You have the numbers. We don’t.
My recommendation to you is to join the already established parties and use your numbers to take it over.
And do not worry too much about money. Money is important, yes, but the world is changing. In fact it has changed!
Hillary Clinton had more money than Donald Trump during the elections. At one point she was outspending Donald Trump 7 to 1 on advertising.
But she underestimated the power of social media and Trump used it to win the hearts and minds of many Americans and won the election.
It is not only Hillary Clinton that underestimated social media. Nigeria’s old breed politicians also underestimate it and surprise, surprise, so do you youths!
Because when you use social media to fight each other you show that you do not know it’s power. Learn from Trump. No matter what the mainstream media says or said about him, he did not believe their news. He did not accept their reality. Instead he used social media to create his own version of reality that eventually became the version that manifested in real life!
And this idea that youths make lousy leaders is unscientific and goes against the evidence. Nigeria made her greatest strides and achieved some of her most rapid progress between Independence and 1979 and youths led for thirteen of those nineteen golden years.
Nigeria has only gone into recession twice in her history and at both times we were not led by youths. Essentially what I am trying to say is that the man with an opinion cannot quarrel with the man with the facts and the facts favour our youth.
• Murray-Bruce is the Senator representing Bayelsa East and founder of the Silverbird Entertainment Group