While Nigerian workers were celebrating May Day and conversations about issues like minimum wage and salaries owed amidst the current economic quagmire that we currently continue to battle against were being discussed and debated over the past few days, Nigerian Youths mostly through social media were discussing the idea behind the formation of a youth-led political party. This is not just commendable but a reflection of the basic notion that the 21st century Nigerian Youth repels by default the idea of marginalization and wants to be at the centre of the discussion getting all the attention.
Any analyst can therefore draw comparison with the average Nigerian Youth of the 1950s with today’s youth – a comparison that cannot be said to have been possible with those born between the late 60s to the late 70s. On what basis is this comparison, you might want to ask, and the answer could as well be on the basis of the spirit to be independent with an attitude of “Enough Of These People Ruling Us”
The latest attempt at channelling this energy is towards a youth-led political party and as one who is highly interested in issues bordering around political participation of young Nigerians in our country, i thought to add my voice.
New parties continue to emerge everyday and should this idea of a youth-led political party see the light of day, it would add again to the number of political parties that currently play in our political atmosphere. There are even some with serious appeal to the young Nigerian to the extent of deliberately including the term young in their name even though a bulk of their leaders remain grey-haired. Is the answer to the woes that plague our country in epochal cycles a new political party?
Truth be told, the young Nigerian is disenfranchised, the constitution does not even directly recognize her/him when it comes to elections and political offices and every attempt by CSOs and NGOs to amend that has been fruitless, and there is need to not just make the voice of the young Nigerian count by letting her/him have her/his say but also her/his way if truly in a democracy, the majority have their way while the minorities have their say. Again, Is the solution to this problem of marginalization/disenfranchisement a new political party? My answer is NO!
Currently, the media age in Nigeria stands at the golden figure 18. Guess what the media age of card carrying members of political parties in Nigeria is, Guess? 46!
It is almost impossible to reason this out! Young Nigerians do not join political parties as members and as such when decisions are to be made, they are absent and can’t really speak for their demography and the ones who are present are in the minority. A new political party that is youth-led is not likely to solve this problem outrightly.
The truth is that I don’t have the statistic of that median age i quoted above (46) but I am sure you believed it because my point was right. Young people only show up during elections for voter’s cards purposes or for campaign purposes or for stomach infrastructure purposes. When it comes to ward meetings and congresses, the people you find are women, labour workers, and the gerontocrats. A youth-led political party is not likely to change this too.
In the movie Selma, John Legend sang one of my now favorite songs, Glory in which ‘ ‘Common’ rapped. 5 lines in those lyrics reads thus,
Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
What is needed is the coming together of individual Nigerians who respect each other’s contributions be it old or young and share a common goal of a better country and are willing to put round pegs in round holes.
Those who would lead this youth political party, what happens to the 35 years old members 10 years later when they are now 45 years old? Who will teach the young energetic leaders of this party what history was and guide them on the historical meanings of inactions they would naturally not find meaning to or reason not to?
Do we in this generation need a party that understands the role the youths have to play in nation building? Yes! Do we need a political party that have truly youth leaders who are not 50 or 60 years old executing 19th century ideas? Yes! Do we need a political party whose youths are not only SAs or PAs or Social Media Directors? Yes!
Do we have such a party in Nigeria? Yes we do! And even though this might sound like I am selling my political party but the truth is KOWA PARTY is such a party that puts the young Nigerian at the centre of its agenda where everything revolves around the young Nigerian as it should be.
The office of the National Youth Caucus is currently in the process of releasing a white paper that would showcase the place where KOWA stands on the issues of the Young Nigerian and Leadership and incentives like a waiver for nomination forms for young Nigerians and women interested in contesting for office, opportunities for leadership and examples of current leaders of the party who are not PAs or SAs amongst a host of others.
Finally, our generation of young Nigerians have refused to focus on the most important criteria of leadership and have focused more, if not only on the criteria of youth. COMPETENCE more than any other attribute is a NECESSITY if we would not make the mistakes of our forefathers and foremothers.
I hope the average young Nigerian can take a cue from this and see truly where the problem lies.
May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
P.S I learnt the campaigners also needed N5 billion. I had to literally laugh out loud when i saw this. If this is not an example of where experience is needed, then, i don’t know what is?
Jude Feranmi is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY and can be reached via email@example.com and on Twitter – @juded27