[Analyses]–For far too long, we have been told a lie. For far too long, we have slept on our watch. For far too long, we have been taken advantage of. Whilst our representatives (elected and otherwise), in collaboration with others, are busy ripping our beloved country of the revenue from the natural resources – a menace tagged as ‘resource curse’, most Nigerian (youths) keep chasing shadows – allowing themselves to be distracted by seemly trivial issues. Some leaders and followers alike, choose to trade the future of the present and coming generations for tasty food, like the Biblical Esau; no thanks to lack of hindsight and foresight. Indeed, nothing could be more pathetic!
Sadly, the music has not stopped playing in ours ears. Far too long, we have condoned mediocrity in our land. We see nothing wrong in celebrating a group of people who barely finished primary school education, allegedly attended high school and purportedly obtained certifications from tertiary institutions (home and overseas). We celebrate our “money-bag” politicians who have little or no value to add to good governance in Nigeria. Taking the biblical story of the lost prodigal son literally, we welcome with open arms, our politicians we stole from us, caught stealing our national wealth in broad daylight and give them front-row to sit in our religious gatherings.
Hence, one needs no soothsayer to come to the conclusion that the seemly old order of ‘business as usual’ is likely to continue and unlikely to stop, until the “needful” is done. The ‘needful’ to be done is what forms the kernel of this article; for whilst anyone can identify a problem, it takes only a genius to proffer solutions.
Until the good people (youths inclusive) of Nigeria have a change of mindset and become more actively involved in governance; until we realise that massive active political participation is one way to keep our seemly clueless leaders (?) on their toes; until we realise that ours is the future to take and posterity awaits us – to judge us for whatever roles we play or refuse to play, then we are unlikely to see a change of events.
Our beloved nation will be extremely lucky not to have the elected (?) representatives, who have chosen to be laws to themselves, unquestionable and unchecked, drive her to a state beyond repairs. In a bid to avoid this, I dare say, therefore, that it is time we took proactive steps in sending packing the legislators who turn our legislative house to comedy-series-platform, with their never-ending comedy series.
It is also time we realised that age is not necessarily a function of wisdom. I became more convinced of this fact when I recently watched a video of the youngest Member of the South African Parliament, Ms. Hlomela Bucwa, who is barely 24 years, yet full of life, passion and uncommon energy as well as unmatched intelligence and wisdom, whilst addressing the South African Parliament. Stories like that of Ms. Bucwa abounds across different parts of the globe.
It is great and inspiring stories like that of Ms. Bucwa that that the good people of Nigeria should draw inspiration from, in asking that our lawmakers do the needful, by removing the stumbling block placed in the Nigerian Constitution, preventing our young people from contesting elections for key positions in the country.
Often time, we hear the saying: ‘Youths are the leaders of tomorrow.’ However, I dare say that this trend has got to stop! Yes!! This trend has got to stop for youths are not only leaders of tomorrow but also today!!!
To Nigerian youths, I dare say it’s hightime we took over what is rightfully ours. We have lots of potentials and can no longer afford to be shut up, relegated to the background and given the back seat to occupy. We have been spectators for far too long; it is time we became gladiators. As intelligent, focused and promising youths that we are, we have got so much to offer our beloved nation.
A good starting point for all Nigerian youths is to ensure that we are all fully registered with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ensure that we get our Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) and be ready to vote conscientiously, wisely and objectively in the forthcoming general elections. The current apathy and low turnout permeating the collection of the PVC must stop. The future of our dearly beloved nation is at stake here; we can no longer adopt the non-challant or ‘sidon-look’ attitude.
In addition, our votes must no longer be sold. The era of money bag politics must stop in Nigeria. We can no longer afford to trade our future for seemly tasty porridge like the Biblical Esau. Let’s not lose sight of the future as well as the future of the generations coming after us. Let’s not forget that today’s mess is a product of the imprudent decisions of yesteryears.
It’s time we stopped this curse and we changed our course, whilst embarking a just cause! It’s time we came together, united and resisted our seemly clueless leaders!!I dare say it is time we took seriously, our civic responsibilities, for no one else can change our country for us. We are Nigerians and have no other place to go; this is home and we must continue to make it habitable for all. Let’s not forget that what is ours is ours and as we lay our beds, so we lie on it.
Let us not forget that we, the good people of Nigeria, occupy the most powerful office on earth, the office of the citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Another good starting point for us is to call for removal of the stumbling block mischievously placed in our Constitution, preventing young people from contesting presidential, gubernatorial, Senatorial, Federal House of Representatives and States’ House of Assembly’ elections until they are 40, 35, 35, 30 and 30 respectively.
If the Nigerian youth could be allowed to vote from the age of 18 upward, one wonders why the same Nigerian youth is ineligible to contest for elections at the same age. To this end, the present writer submits that a good starting point is for us, to call our lawmakers to amend the Nigerian Constitution to give room for sound and visionary leadership from capable youths.
Given our numerical strength as rightly highlighted by the National Population Commission (2013) which reported that half of the population of Nigeria is made up of youth (defined as individuals between 15 and 34 years of age), I dare say it is time we used our numerical strength to our advantage. To say that our voices must not only be heard but also must be made to count, is to say the least.
In other saner climes young people have long since awoke to their responsibility. Consequently, we can no longer afford to keep quiet any more. We have been spectators for far too long when we could have been gladiators. Enough is enough!
In the next few days, I shall be starting a campaign called #EnoughisEnough
I shall be asking you to join me on this life changing exercise. I urge you to join me as we ask for that which is rightfully ours, collectively pursue this worth cause of redeeming the lost glory of our beloved nation, and sign a petition that will be presented to our lawmakers, demanding that they amend our constitution accommodate the interests of Nigerian youths.
Finally, be assured that we will not keep quiet until we achieve our objectives. We shall keep talking about until the needful is done. The time is NOW for us to be completely involved in good governance in Nigeria! We say NO to bad leadership!! #EnoughisEnough!!!
Note: This publication represents only the personal views of the author and is provided to highlight issues as well as for general information purposes only. Whilst reasonable steps were taken to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this publication, the author does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may arise from reliance on information contained in this publication
About the Author
Joseph Onele, graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Ibadan, where he was a recipient of the Federal Government Scholarship and Chevron National Merit Award for Academic Excellence as well as host of other prizes and scholarships.
Having been called to the Nigerian Bar as both a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Joseph currently works as a Legal Practitioner with the leading African Law Firm of Olaniwun Ajayi LP; https://ng.linkedin.com/in/