By Reginald Tobin
How possible can it be for a young person to occupy the highest political office in Nigeria, “President”. I keep asking myself this question whenever I think of the 2023 Presidential election that would hold three years from now.
Will Nigerians queue again to elect a new president which may likely not be a young person?
It has obviously become a tradition that only advanced and old individuals can rule over Nigeria as President. But why must this be the case in a country where young people have the utmost advantage to decide?
The answer is very simple, the youths have not picked a President. You may want to ask why we haven’t picked a President even when we have the numbers, I will like to look at two major reasons which are; unseriousness and disunity.
One major problem of Nigeria today, is the unseriousness of many young Nigerians towards partisan politics or decision making in the country. They always tell you that they are not politicians and they do not want to be. But many of them fail to realise that politics is not meant for politicians alone as Nigeria is governed by politics.
Majority of the key decisions made for Nigeria are made by politicians and when this politicians do not have the masses at heart, they tend to make decisions that will first suit their interest before the nation, and when this happens, most times, young Nigerians suffer the most.
Nevertheless, there are still some serious minded young Nigerians with interest in partisan politics, leadership and decision making, But we still need more of these kind to achieve the goal because young Nigerians who are interested in politics when compared to the unwilling can be worrisome. If only young Nigerians can put aside misplaced priorities and face the real issues, then we can begin.
Many young Nigerians do not find it important to demand for accountability and justice, they do not take positive steps to ensure that Nigeria works for all including them. They are not interested in taking mass action against those who they claim have been behind the travails of the country. They sit and watch everything play out the way those in power want it to be and only grumble for a while, after which they keep quiet. Even if you try to create a platform to tackle these issues, only few youths turn up to join the movement for a new Nigeria.
As young Nigerians we can never get things done until we become very serious. But how do we become very serious when we are not even united.
Together we stand and divided we fall, they say. Unity is very key in the course of picking a President and this is why we have not been able to do so. There’s no doubt that political party affiliation has created disunity among Young Nigerians because the few who have shown interest in politics obviously belong to different political parties. But even in the political parties we belong, there are very qualified and competent youths who can deliver if given the mandate. So, what is stopping the youths from projecting such people in their political platforms? Why can’t the youths in a political party come together and pick a young aspirant from the party as their preferred choice? Why can’t they work to ensure that they become delegates to participate in the primary election of the party as this will enable them to have the credibility to cast their vote for the preferred aspirant who they want to fly the parties flag in the general election?
The youths who belong to political parties have always folded their arms and watched the old political gladiators decide who becomes the Presidential candidate of their party and all they do is to clamor on campaign grounds and die for them during the election. Only very few youths are even considered in the campaign committee of these parties. When this is all that happens, we can never have a young Presidential candidate in political parties where elders also have interest.
At times, when young people who are ready to lead decide to step up, the people who mostly discredit them are also young people working for for the political barons. Imagine a youth fighting his young counterpart, not for the interest of the country or youths, but for the interest of elders, isn’t that disheartening? But this is how it has always been and until we drop this kind of politics and come together, we may never pick a President.
Permutations have began for 2023 presidency and the only names we keep hearing are that of the old political barons, even if you ask a young person who he wants to be the next president of Nigeria, he will hardly call the name of a young Nigerian Because young Nigerians have not decided to pick a President. We are always waiting to campaign for the candidates that will be forced upon us by elders and barons.
Most times, even when young presidential candidates emerge from smaller parties, young Nigerians do not throw their weight behind them because we feel the power still lies in the hands of the old barons who have the financial strength, forgetting that we have the numbers and only unity can make it work.
Some youths are now very satisfied with the category of which they’ve been placed. Political barons now see young people in politics as social media elements and nothing but that. Instead of young Nigerians in politics to use social media to foster their interest, they now see the space as a platform to abuse their counterparts, while the old politicians are in peace with themselves. Until we put an end to this, we cannot pick a President.
While everybody cannot belong to political parties, those in political parties should ensure they project young Presidential candidates with the qualification and competence to lead.
Those who do not belong to political parties should also make sure they get involved by going out to vote for a young, competent and eligible presidential candidate on election day.
If young Nigerians can be serious and united, we can pick a President.
Tobin writes from Port Harcourt.