Nigerian Youth and Politics: Not Too Young to Run

Young Nigerians are crying out for an effective change, their voice is loud and should be heard but will the powers that be make room to allow this change to come to fruition?

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The Federal Republic of Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom in October 1960, since then there have been somewhere in the region of 14 leaders, some ruling more than once. The majority of these leaders were over the age of 50 when sworn into power.

For the longest time, politics in Nigeria seemed to have been an old man’s game, men of a particular age were the ruling class and this has always been the narrative of Nigerian politics.

The youths want to be a part of the change in their country, it is time for the older generation to vacate the position and let the future take control.

Young Nigerians are crying out for an effective change, their voice is loud and should be heard but will the powers that be make room to allow this change to come to fruition?

The current president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, 75, was recently quoted describing Nigerian youths as lazy. Young people should be inspired and encouraged by their leaders. Surely the focus should be on uplifting, engaging, and investing in their future as this will lead to a better tomorrow, but instead, Buhari, speaking about his people at an international event, said “More than 60% of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil-producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, health care, education free.”

Nigerian graduates and students are having to deal with extreme university strikes, chronic unemployment and lack of support from the government. Despite the lack of opportunities available for them, they still manage to show entrepreneurship, drive, and the will to want to achieve success.

The lack of relevance given to young Nigerians is causing major detriment that is bound to affect generations to come. Nigerian leaders are doing themselves a disservice by not making room for the young and by not hearing their opinions, ideas and points of view.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has proven to be an example of what can happen when a younger and less conservative minded leader is presented with the opportunity to make changes, like Nigeria the majority of the population in Saudi Arabia is under 30, Salman has created a long term economic plan to ensure the financial and social security of his nation.

Vision 2030 will allow the country to wean itself off its dependence on oil, and has helped write a raft of socially liberal royal decrees allowing women to drive, reining in the notorious religious police and reopening cinemas. He has also promised a return to a more “moderate” Islam.

It might not look like a big deal that women can attend football matches, watch films and drive, but it’s a start and has cracked the ceiling. Of course, there is still a very long way to go for nations like Saudi Arabia but the important thing is that they have made a start and with a younger person at the helm.

With an extremely young population, young Nigerians yearn to see a difference in politics and governance. They have now established and registered a political party called the Modern Democratic Party, being led by Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi, 27, The party was registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in early 2018

“Never in the history of Nigeria has there been such a technologically-savvy generation with access to information and knowledge that can transform this country profoundly. We are focused on harnessing the mental and physical resources of this unique generation of youth, brimming with fresh ideas and innovations which will finally put Nigeria in its rightful place on the world stage. We know that the journey ahead of us will be long, this is not a party registered for the 2019 presidential elections. We are here for the long haul and wish to call on all true patriots of our fatherland to get involved as we embark on this journey towards building Nigeria’s first and truly Modern Democratic Party.’’ Olateru-Olagbegi.

It’s time the youths of Nigeria resisted the status quo by actively standing against it and actually running for power, of course it’s bound to be a challenging, but not impossible, it is time to have an active role in their future and if it’s not going to be given to them perhaps they need to take it.