It is not an uncommon knowledge that Nigerian government is not only ran by old corrupt leaders, who have turned the nation’s politics into some sort of retirement plan, such that they do not see any need to finish terms and leave without looking for other positions to occupy, but also controlled by these same set of inactive people, who have no plan whatsoever to improve the nation in anyway. Some of them even go ahead to use it as a tool of revenge against fellow politicians whom they see as enemies, while others simple use the posts as an opportunity to fuel their pockets. The most apparent solution to saving The Nigerian politics from the hands of this cycle of corrupt leaders is the involvement of the youth in the country’s political affairs, after all they are the majority, and the present leaders also started ruling in their youth too. But unfortunately, that has remained unachievable. What is worse is that the constant pleading of our youths to get involved in politics has barely been able to make the youths get their PVCs, let alone make them join political parties.
One can easily accuse the youths of being unserious and apolitical, but that would be a lazy thing to do, because looking at it closely, it is clear that there are reasons why we barely have young people who belong in any political party, or are involved in the governmental system.
One of the major reasons why a lot of our young men and women are so apolitical is also the reason why the older generation has left our governmental system to be ran by this present set of leaders, who are only interested in power tussle. This reason is simply the fact that ‘politics in Nigeria is a dirty game’, which means that decent and informed people naturally, would not like to get involved in it. We’ve seen countless videos of senators and House of Representatives members fighting during their meetings, government officials harassing each others publicly, all for the sake of God knows what. Nigerian politics looks like a charade of madness, and it isn’t exactly something normal and serious minded people would want to get involved in, majority will rather just criticize than get involved.
Another important reason is the issue of ‘godfatherism’ in the country’s politics. What is for sure is that if we come across young or new people in the government, they most definitely have some connection with one of the old leaders. This isn’t surprising, seeing that the cost of running for electoral offices cost more than what the average Nigerian can afford. For example, presidential aspirants are to pay N10 million for nomination form, while governorship and senate aspirants are to pay N5 million and N2 million respectively, and these forms do not include the expenses to be incurred while campaigning for the post. An average youth cannot be capable for spending so much money on a post that isn’t even certain, without having sponsor and support in some of the past leaders lingering around the corridors of power. Which is why even the involvement of the youth in government is not enough of fix the problem of returning old leaders. Rather, a change in the political structure will yield better results.
There is also the issue of youths not being knowledgeable about political parties culture, which is not surprising. As the current leaders have refused to leave power to the younger ones, neither do they see the need to involve the youths in the running of the country, we cannot exactly blame the youth for their lack of knowledge and involvement in political parties structures, because they were never equipped with the necessary tools.
In essence, it is very true that the youth involvement in the Nigerian politics is very important, but it is noteworthy that telling young Nigerians to get their PVCs and join political party is not the way to go, as joining the already corrupt political parties will only give room for ‘godfatherism’ (a means for the past leaders to control the younger ones), and to further spread corruption. The better way is either for young people to form different a party/parties that are completely unaffiliated with the current leaders, or have a new young candidate rise independently, just like France’s president, Emmanuel Macron did.
Thankfully, President Buhari’s administration has not only reduced the age limit of running for public offices, but also approved of independent candidates running for offices, which is a great step to engaging the youths in the country’s politics.
Whichever way we choose to go, it’s important to keep in mind that the youths have the power, and should therefore start by realizing how much power they wield, so that our future can be fixed.