How to engage youths in democratic politics has become a headache of a sort to social crusaders, political scientists, media practitioners and so many other groups in Nigeria and by extension, international. This question has continued since 1999 the country started to practice democracy after 35yrs the military held sway in the leadership of the country. Since the democratic dispensation, the country has spent billions of Dollars in electoral processes. Likewise, some international unions like the European Union, EU, can swank of supporting and strengthening Nigeria’s democracy and electoral processes with not less than 100 million Euros. This, the EU can say, were supported by means of democratic institutions, the electoral processes, legislatures and all electoral stakeholders.
We need youth to engage in politics and change it
While the social groups and funding are bent to bring in the youths to take-on in conventional democratic politics, the youths seem dis-interested to take the lead in lieu of their inconsiderable features and involvement in promoting and marketing the political affairs of the old politicians. One such support by the youths to old politicians was the recent summit they held for a 63yr old Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN). Just if young people stop migration to Europe the country is doing a good job in listening to their worries. Nigeria is a country that loses many talents right now due to a lack of Economic perspectives.
Youth should be asked and consulted
Whereas the youths should believe in themselves it is despondently the other way round. A statement credited to one of the conveners of the summit, read, “The only way good governance and dividends of democracy will be sustainable in Ondo state is the continuity by Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu as governor.” Those who know better have said that youths should choose to be formal politicians rather than informal politicians they have chosen to be. They have chosen the later especially at the time of reform movements. However, there is the Youth2030: The United Nations Youth Strategy, officially launched on Monday, September 24 2018 at a High-Level Event at the United Nations in New York, and was presented by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The United Nations also launched what is dubbed “Launching Global Campaign Promoting Right of Young People To Run for Public Office”.
The campaign is a global issue, campaigning Not Too Young To Run. It was launched at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law that took place at United Nations, Geneva.
According to the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, “Young people have every right to be active participants in civic and public life and it is time to ensure they no longer face arbitrary barriers to run for public office – whether at the local, regional or national level. Through the Not Too Young To Run campaign, my office will work with partners around the world to raise awareness about the issue of age discrimination and promote and expand the rights of young people to run for public office.” Many believe that youths have less responsibilities and more fervor towards the betterment of a given society.
End of the party
Research has shown that the old politicians have created ugly perceptions surrounding politics of which the youths have embraced the game as a very ‘dirty game.’ Another side is the sit-tight-rule by the old politicians whose allegiance to their political parties was on continuity and not on paving way for younger people who ought to stand a chance to rule if the old people erase authoritarian politics from their different political parties. Against this backdrop of authoritarian postulation by old politicians, the youths have resorted to having impractical and impracticable visions for society and politics. With the ‘authoritarian postulation by old politicians’ the youths are bereft of experience both in realistic and progressive visions about their society. Many parents also do not encourage their children to join politics due to the negative impression the old politicians have created around politics.
These parents do not see politics as a career, because they believe that politics does not always bring in money regularly, except when the aspirant won in an election or is appointed into political office. Conversely, data has it that due to the shrewd habit of the old politicians against the youths, the later have no option rather than being easily manipulated overtly or covertly for thuggery or vandalism in electoral processes. Records however show that the few youths in politics are from political families or have a pedigree with old politicians. Opinions are that no matter the constraints against youths participation in politics, the democratic landscape in Nigeria needs the talent of youths in politics to burgeon. The youths need to be given access to politics to showcase their talents.