Times are changing; and so are attitudes to the concepts of leadership and followership. There was once a time when the political elite paid scant attention to the influence and power of the youth as a voting block at elections. There were even once a time in world and national political history when entire voting blocks were disenfranchised, yet the leadership that emerged from such lopsided voting patterns are imposed on the entire polity.
How so unfair! Yet, it is the fate of the Nigerian youths today. The irony is, although Nigeria has one of the youngest populations in the world (with a third of the headcount between 18 and 35) and practises university adult suffrage; smart, young and upwardly mobile Nigerians have over the years shown a worrying apathy towards elections and the electoral process as a whole.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Vindictive politicians often pay little or no attention to voting blocs that shun elections or that don’t aid their journey to power. Is this the bane of the youth in the national scheme in policy formulations and executions? Your guess is as good as mine. Incessant strike in universities, dilapidated public school structures, massive youth unemployment with the dependency ratio of youths being over 80%, decline of youth-empowerment programmes… the list goes on.
As a youth that has interacted with a lot of other youths and with different political and philosophical individuals, I know the reasons that are often given as excuse; from politicians showing little interest in issues that directly affect youths to the numbing feeling of wide-spread corruption and then the misleading thinking that our votes as youths do not, in actual fact, count!
In all, youth often summarise their disinterest in elections as being because politics is a dirty game.
But thank God for the advancement in mobile and communication technology and Information technology in the broader scheme; as well as the facts about a growing literate population, perceptions are changing for the better. This is the time we must exercise our voting strength as youths and begin to shape the destiny of our country the way we desire it and have always dreamed about. After all, we are the future of the nation.
We can no longer afford to stay on the side-lines while other smaller voting blocs decide the leadership of Nigeria and vote in whichever candidates are presented to them. The old guard of dishonest politicians love the status quo, as they believe a simple strategy is to win over during electioneering campaigns older people and other voting blocs, who will vote however bad the candidates are.
But as young people, we are more independent-minded, cosmopolitan, liberal and critical of the credentials of candidates vying for elective offices. We want change and we must now continue to drive that goal at the ballot, starting with the forthcoming elections in 2015 and beyond in every area of the economy and nation.
We are on a journey as a country; and youths must lead the way as the face of the future. We must start my coming out in our numbers and letting our voices be heard. Let’s make this election our vote, our voice and our destiny.
Article written by @AyoYBE1
Ayo is a young passionate Nigerian youth who has had the opportunity to experience the power of the unity and solidarity of the Nigerian youth when he became the inaugural Vice President of the Nigerian Society Essex; a community of Nigerians at the University of Essex. Although at a lower scale, the leadership opportunity afforded Ayo a vantage point to see first-hand the huge social and structural transformation when young people become more active in the leadership selection process via elections.
Ayo is passionate about Nigeria’s dynamic youth population and the future of the nation and hopes to replicate evolutionary strides in Nigeria through more youth engagement in public affairs, specifically in the emergence of the political leadership.
Now a spokesperson for the Youth Ballot Evolution (YBE), Ayo has an Msc inEntrepreneurship and International Business from the University of Aston and alsostudied biomedical sciences from the University of Essex but he is at the frontline of the engagement for active participation of Nigerian youth at the 2015 election. He is driven by the belief that the Nigerian youth can make all the difference in the next general election, putting to use the potential power of their 53 million population strength to move this country forward and in the right direction.