By Enenim Ubon
Wikipedia defines civic engagement thus “the encouragement of the general public to become involved in the political process and the issues that affect them”.
In the recent past there has been an agitation by youths to be part of the process of leadership in Nigeria, this is quite commendable. During the last elections we noticed movements like #30PercentOrNothing amongst others as a way of having a voice within their various political parties; an indication that this generation of youths have realized that leadership is not given to people while they ‘rock away’ in beer parlors or snoring in the confines of their bedrooms.
While one may be tempted to celebrate the level of awareness of the youthful population on issues around them, it is appalling to note that in the quest to be noticed (for whatever menial responsibilities) many youths especially on social media have thrown caution to the wind. In the name of engagement, people have said things I am certain their families would be ashamed of (if they ever heard/read them).
Recently a group of mostly ‘careless talkers’ was assembled in the name of volunteers for the president’s media team (I still do not understand their functions, but then people need to be made to feel important while being continuously used to perform task that the kids of their bosses will never perform). With this sort of ‘reward’ for a display of unparalled naivety, ignorance and ill manners, many more people are bound to further mistake irresponsibility as civic engagement.
The participation of the Nigerian youth is a sine qua non to the attainment of sustainable human development. While the opportunities for these engagements in all spheres may be few, the fact remains that many youths lack the ability to engage one another without resorting to the use of abusive words. The 2015 international youth day aims to draw awareness to the importance of youth civic engagements and its attendant benefits, and also to encourage youths to contribute to societal development in whatever little corner they find themselves; but first for all these efforts to be successful youths must be encouraged to engage responsibly. Will your children be proud of what you have said to be ‘recognized’ if they ever come across your speeches? The voices of the youths must be heard as leaders of today, tomorrow and the future – saying the ‘right’ things not just empty ranting that further destroy instead of rebuilding.
The major youth organizations in the country have to wake up to the challenge of mobilizing their peers towards responsible civic engagement rather than running around political office holders for crumbs, even if it means betraying their followers/members. As a new political era has begun, youthful participation is necessary and should be encouraged. People must learn to restrain themselves at least for the sake of posterity; not everything on an individual’s mind ought to be made public. The gains of talking carelessly may appear enormous now but in the long run, nobody wants to be associated with someone who cannot bridle his/her tongue, no matter how intelligent.
Have a lovely International Youth Day celebration.
About Enenim Ubon:
He is socio-political commentator and usually engages in intellectually stimulating conversations. He can be reached on twitter via @EnenimUbon.
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