By Obinna Chukwuemeka P
Youths everywhere in the world are full of potentials and vast talents. In most developing countries, the youths constitute the bulk of the national population. Under the ages of 18-35years, youths are energetic, full of ambitions, vigor and strength. In advanced countries, the youths cannot be overlooked neither can they be ignored and are heavily involved in the political process. In Nigeria, the youths have a larger number than the middle ages and the aged class in terms of population.
Despite all this, youths have failed to be at the forefront of leadership. The youths are heavily underrepresented in the scheme of things in the country’s leadership. They have continuously been rendered to the background. They have remained at the backseat, docile and reluctant to assume leadership roles. Due to several factors such as indifference, negligence, despair and little enthusiasm of the youths to aspire for leadership, Nigeria has sustained a perpetual cycle of aged leaders in the helms of the country. Old faces that should have retired from government affairs remain the image of our country leadership till this day. Where did we go wrong? Why has the situation continued to linger till date?
Youths are truly the driving force of the country. For any country to prosper and achieve a fast pace of economic growth and development, she must invest in the young population. Education, skills acquisition, innovation, and others are crucial for the upbringing of the fledging youths. The society requires more avenues for enlightenment and active youth participation in the affairs of the state. Sensitization of the Nigerian youths in leadership should be our real focus. They must rise up and be decision makers of the country. The youths need to desist from being dormant and perpetual onlookers of the trajectory of the socio-political and economical direction of the country to become visionary leaders and captains of the ship. It is high time the youths took the mantle of leadership to navigate the country to greater attainment.
Across the nooks and crannies of the country, there is a massive buildup on the persisting clamor for young minds to be navigators of the state. Numerous youths are expressing strong confidence and chest-beating attitude towards steering the ship. However, there are more critical questions that beg for answers. Do the youths have what it takes to lead the country? Are they ready to step on powerful toes to pilot the country to greater heights? Are the youths set to overlook and stand up to divisive tendencies by elements of disunity and injustice?
Since the previous governments till date, the elite class have tactically manipulated gullible youths and sprung them into wrongful acts to do the bidding of the elites for their self-interests. Youths have been misled on numerous occasions in unlawful acts like killings, thuggery, ballot snatching, rigging, hooliganism, violence and a host of others.
Many youths are apathetical towards political leadership. A high level of indifference and disinterest towards government affairs by the youths contribute to major problems that have lingered for so long. Many are full of despair and are wrongly convinced that the status quo never changes. Some actually have the opinion and mindset that the crop of old elites decides “who gets what, when and how” in all areas of the country. There is a very low political participation. For instance, a vast number of Nigerian youths do not possess their Permanent Voters Card. Youths that aspire to be leaders of tomorrow must be ready to make changes. Our country has to promote youth inclusiveness in politics.
Moreover, the elites have a penchant for manipulating the youth along religious and ethnic lines to suit their selfish goals. Sadly, it cannot be denied that there is a festering problem among youths that many have been divided ethno-religious divide that have left them vulnerable to manipulative aims. Nigerians erroneously tend to place their religious interest, regional and ethnic affiliation above everything else.
This affects the public opinion on the role of the youths in leadership. All these negative tendencies give room for the skeptical ones amongst Nigerians that consistently portray the youths as too young and inexperienced to lead. It is incumbent on the youths to put aside their differences and work together cohesively for the good of Nigeria. Youths need to stand together in realizing their goals as Nigerians. We must prioritize our nationality as Nigerians than religion or ethnic group. One needs to identify himself as a Nigerian more than his tribe or faith.
The helm of affairs of countries like UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are run by youths in their thirties. Dubai’s Emir, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad Al Thani, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman are leading their countries to greater heights with massive reforms never seen before in the Saudi Kingdom, giant economic strides and massive foreign investment drive in UAE and Qatar. This put the three states on the front row seats and the lead on youth-led governments in the Gulf region. Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest economy and democracy, as well as the most populous state wields a lot of influence across Africa. A visionary and competent youth leadership in Nigeria will spur a huge change nationally and will revolutionize the continent, which could lead to a bandwagon effect in Africa.
Youths should be encouraged to rise to prominence, away from the shadows. We cannot continue to seat on the fence. The #NotTooYoungToRun bill now signed into law by President Buhari is a welcome development and a great opportunity for the youths to seize this moment to advance their cause. Our country youths are full of great visions, aspirations and potentials. Nigeria requires a more open and pleasant political environment that open up chances for our youths to be partakers of the decision making process in the field of governance. The youths should partake in all sectors of the country.
Obinna Chukwuemeka P can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org