Since coming to self-realization, the popular cliche I have always heard elders and political leaders use to pacify the youths in Nigeria is that they are the “leaders of tomorrow”. The tomorrow that is seemingly elusive. Going by this postulation of our elders, I fall into the category of ‘leaders of the day after tomorrow’,since tomorrow in this context is more likely to favour my brothers and sisters in their 30s and above.
Over the last couple of years, youths through various platforms and mediums have constantly agitated for inclusion in the scheme of things in their various political parties. A quest which has not been completely successful;considering that some political parties still have youth leaders whose ages are far above what’s stated in the National Youth Policy. For youths to be carried along in the political scheme of things, we must first identify who a youth is. Presently the National Youth Policy recognizes a person who is not older than 35 years as a youth. I have seen 50 year olds and above being referred to as youths – this to me is one of the major reasons why those within the recognized age range cannot be active players in Nigeria’s political sphere. If a 50 year old is a youth,then an individual below 35 years can then be referred to as a ‘baby’, not fit to sit with elders when decisions are made but good enough to do the ‘dirty jobs’ or run errands for handouts when the need arises.
This mentality has constantly robbed our nation of ideas from the most productive,adventurous and promising class of citizens, who after the frustrating experiences of trying to get to the top abandon their original values and beliefs for new ones,passed down by their elders as the norms and criteria for being allowed into the ‘inner chamber’, a situation that perhaps would have been different if these young persons were carried along from the onset.
To a certain extent also, the non inclusion of youths in the core activities of political parties, can also be blamed on the youths, some of whom see certain minor privileges accorded them by some politicians as the best they can ever get, to the extent that some of these youths falsely consider themselves as kings who are free to trample on their contemporaries. Elders and party leaders capitalize on this flaw, making the youths belief that inclusion is a rare privilege exclusively reserved for the chosen ones – a situation that should not be so.
I do not know what structures exist in our various political parties for youths to grow through the ranks to the top,without being overwhelmed by circumstances(like change in leadership,their party’s loss of a state through elections etc), as obtained in both the Democratic and Republican parties in the USA. The only way youths can be prepared for higher responsibilities is by entrusting them with lesser tasks. This way we are sure of producing individuals READY to lead, not those to whom leadership is accidentally thrust and are overwhelmed by the demands of such office.
In conclusion,it is important that youths be involved in the core of politics,as only a youth can interact and have a full grasp of the challenges being faced by other youths in his/her generation. Nigeria can boast of youths who are eminently qualified to be the ‘leaders of today’, the energies of these young persons should be exploited to the service of their fatherland, lest they channel such into activities that may pose great danger to the nation state.
Enenim Ubon is on twitter @enenimubon
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