From Christopher Oji
Nigerian youths have been charged to resist political oppression from politicians who only view them as tools to be deployed for election-related crimes. They were also urged to show the same level of concern they have for the reality television show, Big Brother Nigeria (BBN), on critical national issues.
Convener of NGVotersEdu2023 Nigerian Youth Votes, Mr Tunji Ajibola, who made the call, expressed displeasure at the lackadaisical attitude of young people towards electioneering: “Young people are the key stakeholders in Nigeria’s elections. They form the largest voting block, more than 80 per cent of the estimated population of Nigeria comprises youths.
“Political parties, politicians and political gladiators rely so much on the youths to achieve their various political agenda. Without the youth elements in electioneering process there won’t be any activity.
The youths, to some extent, determine whether there is going to be free and fair election or otherwise.
“If the Nigerian youth will realise the enormity of the power they possess collectively, they will be the ones to determine who wins any election through their population block votes. It is regrettable that the Nigerian youth allowed politicians to cajole and intimidate them with a pittance, and they have been able to use them against youth themselves.
“Nearly all the election-related crimes involve young people whom politicians recruit as foot soldiers. If you look at all the prospective aspirants for the 2023 elections, young people are promoting them through their various groups or platforms. If the youths can coordinate themselves properly, they can determine who leads Nigeria come 2023.
“They can achieve this feat by either joining any of the other registered political parties or the two prominent political parties to achieve their aims of being key stakeholders in Nigerian elections.
They may not be able to form a political party now, but they can search for a party that has like minds and take over the party’s decisions.
“My advice to Nigerian youth is to become active in the Nigerian political process, not just as yeomen. Nigerian youths can show concern about critical national issues as they did for BBN reality television show. Showing such concern and commitment is the key word.
The youth should do more than they did with BBN in participation in the political process.
“I have been working in the youth-led advocacy for more than 15 years.
I have realized that young people care less about electioneering. This has to change. According to the last INEC statistics, large numbers of registered voters were young people, but the voting patterns showed that only a few of them managed to vote.
“NGVotersEdu2023 was launched last year to address this problem. Our mission is to get up to 50 million Nigeria youth to vote in the 2023 elections.
“Youth are vulnerable to drugs, cultism and all other social vice because of their restiveness. They are in the stage of experimentation and exuberance, hence their indulgence in some of these activities.
“My experience as a lecturer and youth development coach proved to me that the recruiters into to these social malady sometimes latch on their innocence. Some got involved out of ignorance.
“Parents must realise that it is now more challenging to raise young people to responsible adulthood. There are so many merchants of the devil contesting for their soul.
“There are various youth groups at various levels. Though, some of them have been compromised by politicians, like NANS, but there are different professional and faith-led youth leadership groups that can actually start the sensitisation.”
“There are youth groups in the two prominent political parties. All they need to do is to show the bigwig politicians that, it is not going to be business as usual for them anymore. The youths, to some extent, determine whether there is going to be free and fair election or otherwise.”