A New Change: The Call for Generational Shift

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SATURDAY PERSPECTIVE 

By Augustus Ikhine

Youths involvements in politics of Nigeria should be at the pivot of our democracy.

The youth of this nation should know that they have no other country but Nigeria and therefore must participate actively in building and entrenching democracy as the present-future leaders. In other clime for instance, France’s Macron just turned 40 – same for Sweden whose President is 31 years old. This new-age demographics are pointers that today’s Nigerian youth can actually change the political narrative for good if they take an activate part in politics and governance.

The days of youths being used for electoral malfeasance and violence to help the older-generation powerful politicians to secure victory should be over. It is important that Nigerian youths move away from just talking and writing to leading the way. Nigerian youths must use their inventive and innovative minds to ensure power changes hands for the benefit of the people. Young Nigerians must participate in all electoral process to ensure that their destiny isn’t left in the hands of a few political moneybags.

Public enlightenment is key in this direction especially by the non-profit and non-governmental agencies as the politicians or government won’t do this. With social media it’s easier to mobilize minds of Nigerian youths. Such political enlightenment must be designed and focused on youth involvement in politics. It must show practical ways they can start by going back to their electoral wards to register as member of any of the registered political parties of their choice because, that’s where the political journey really and truly begins from.

Bill Clinton wrote in his book on leadership that every politics is local… so the Nigerian youth with an interest in making an impact and difference in politics must registered in his local ward in his village or town as a card carrying party man or women. This is the first step and the right step to take. NGO’s contribution to public enlightenment itself isn’t sufficient. The Age bracket and limitation places by the constitution for aspiring into political office needs to be adjusted to accommodate youth participation in politics. Young people are often excluded or overlooked as political candidates. Politics is typically regarded as a space for politically experienced men, and while women are often disadvantaged in accumulating experience to run for office. Young people are systematically marginalized because of their young age, limited opportunities, and projected lack of experience.

Insightfully, the recent youth campaigns “not too young to govern” heralded a new legislation which has been passed by the House of Representatives which awaits passage by the Senate is a pointer to the present re-awakening of inevitability of youth’s involvement in Nigerian politics.

A nation without a pragmatic vision that is centred on its youths is a failed nation. There has to be generational change; a deliberate change in leadership baton from one generation to the other. Where ethical imperative is lacking the safety verges of statehood is dead on arrival.

The above may seem mere palliative because, we all know that power isn’t given on a platter but taken. The youth of this country must begin to strategize and be alive to their responsibilities of taking over the reins of leadership.

This can be done by taking deliberate steps to actualize a collective vision centred around changing the nation’s leadership narrative by mobilizing themselves through a collective bind to radically effect a generational change in leadership and governance at all levels of government; placing embargoes on the older generation albeit the Babangida-style if need be.

Take for instance, with the power of the social media Nigerian youths under different but a united social umbrella can bind themselves and say any politician or person in politics and business who has attained a certain age bracket is un-electable and should not be voted for into Houses of Assembly and the House of Representatives.

Nigerian youths on their own without waiting for any constitutional or electoral law amendments decide the age of the governor and president they want. Yes, they can. It is time the old order yield way willingly or unwillingly to the youth.

This would represent a bold and audacious statement to the older generation whose political parties will be compelled to present younger candidates for elective offices.

The increased political participation of Nigerian youths benefits society as a whole. The presence of young people in decision-making positions benefits all citizens, not just youths.

In 2010, the Inter Parliamentarian Union adopted the resolution, “Youth participation in the democratic process,” at its 122nd Assembly and in 2013, established the Forum of Young Parliamentarians to ensure young people are fully engaged in politics.

The IPU also recommends the need to align the minimum age for parliamentary candidacy with the minimum voting age and to establish youth quotas (e.g. reserved seats, legislated quotas, party quotas) as a means of increasing the number of young parliamentarians (MPs).

In recognizing the potential of the youth, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) developed its first-ever Youth Strategy (2014–2017) called, “Empowered Youth, Sustainable Future.” This is in line with the UN’s “System-Wide Action Plan on Youth” (2013) which calls on the young generation to become more involved and more committed in development processes.

The year 2013 also saw the publication of “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle: A Good Practical Guide”, UNDP’s first review of programming strategies for youth political participation beyond the ballot box.

To further boost the implementation of the UNDP’s Youth Strategy, the UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security, UNDP launched a Youth Global Programme for Sustainable Development and Peace – Youth-GPS (2016–2020) The Youth-GPS focuses on civic engagement and political participation, among other areas, and responds to the concerns young people have expressed in global, regional and national forums and the growing demand at all levels for cutting-edge and strategic support in youth programming in all development contexts.

Also in 2016, “Not too Young To Run” global campaign was launched to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination and the IPU membership too endorsed the document, “Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to youth”, based on the principles promoted by the young parliamentarians of the IPU: “No decisions about us without us,” that outlines how parliaments and parliamentarians could help rejuvenate democracy and give the world’s young people a voice in political decision-making.

Back home, the Nigerian youths whom we all know are very creative, industrious, self sustaining and hard working can’t be left behind.

The time to participate in our electoral process, the time to vote and ask to be voted for more than ever before, is now.

–––Augustus IKHINE wrote in from Lagos. He wants to contest for a seat in the 2019 elections to the Edo State House of Assembly.

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