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.
“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 with the first and most radical being the political players’ failure to give Nigerians a systematized/issue-based campaign with 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 were 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 like in the generality of mankind describes the current disposition of the youths towards the leaders they ones 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 includes a deep-seated range of spurious arguments that revolves chiefly round political ignorance/ illiteracy – a factor that consistently daily dampens political appetite to monitor political activities in order to grow in factual and conceptual political knowledge.
Though, I sympathize with the awkward position 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 argument by these youths for embracing political apathy, one will be genuinely dismayed as most of the reasons are not just verge and ungraspable but spurious.
For example, youths at the various fora expressed dissatisfaction/frustrations 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/opinion are not regarded by the government-resulting in 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 fails 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 democratize poverty.
Similarly, in their attempt to defend the present political posturing, some youth argues that the vast majority of Nigerian politician/public office holders in their effort to secure their positions have politically disarmed the youths, kept the country divided and fostered animosity among the people.
But contrary to this belief, the truth of this word is that no leader/politicians in the writer’s views disarm 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 vacuum.
Put differently, the qualities required for success are the same that undermines success.
Until the youths realize that ‘human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable’, they will not appreciate that 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 to 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 youth’s 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 flourish will translate to endorsement of the agonizing moment the nation currently face 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 this 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 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 at 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.
Utomi writes via [email protected]