“Youth and Democracy”, two concepts that have not synchronized/mixed too well, in our country, Nigeria.
When an average Nigerian thinks of “Youth and Democracy”, he thinks of political thugs/hoodlums under the employ of some political gladiator / contestant / office holder.
Who is a Youth?
A youth could be termed anyone between the ages of 18 – 40. 18 being the age you recognized by Nigerian constitution as the age of reason to vote and 40 being recognized in the world, as the cut off age into older maturity. After all, life begins at forty (if we are to follow the famous saying).
What is Democracy?
Democracy as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is a form of Government, in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power, typically through elected representatives. A second definition is control of a group, by majority of its members.
Democracy can therefore be defined as government by the people, where every citizen has the right and pride of choosing his leader / representative through voting. If this is the case, then we can say that the Nigerian educated youth has thrown away his birth right for porridge.
Where are the Educated Youth?
They can be found either at the clubs or at a party, leaving the illiterate youth to get involved in the political destiny of the country (Nigeria). Through which the uneducated and uncultured youth would run the country.
This is sad, especially in this age (2006), when youth of other Nations have woken up to the realization of the importance of their involvement in their country’s political destiny.
The Chinese Youth fought for Democracy and freedom and are still on the project. The Iranian Youth (University Students) are fighting.
No country can be liberated, without its youth.
A case in point is of a friend of mine and classmate at a University in London. Her father was the Prime Minister of her country, while the going was good; she loved her parties and enjoyed life to its fullest. By sheer contrast and an ironic twist of fate, in her country today, her dad/father is leader of opposition and someone else is Prime Minister. My friend is now back in her country, she is a Member of Parliament and a Youth leader of the opposition party and an activist for youth’s participation in politics.
The Question for our Nigerian Youth is, do we need a bad situation, before we get involved?
‘The issue here is, it is never too late or too early to do the right thing.’
My friend found out, before it was too late, how important it is to get involved in the political destiny of your country. She is still young enough to make a change and maybe one day become a Minister or even Prime Minister of her country.
What the Nigerian youth, who loves to party, dance, sing, drink, smoke and enjoy life, in so many other ways (courtesy of Big Brother Nigeria), should know is that, you can do every thing above and still take the political destiny of your country seriously.
From Sunday to Thursday think of how you can make a positive change in your country, Nigeria and on Friday and Saturday, you can party till you drop.
The next question is in what ways can a Youth get involved in the politics of his/her country? (Especially, as not everyone can be a contestant.)
Politics is not only about voting or being voted for, it also entails Vigilance (shine your eye), in making sure that there is no cheating/rigging in your area/polling booth i.e. becoming an agent for a political party of your choice or looking after the agents of your political party at the polling booth by providing food and drinks, to keep them vigilant, being present during the voting, counting of votes, following the result to the collating centres of the local government, then to the state collating centre.
The next line of action is to monitor the end result of the Electoral Commission (INEC), to see that the right candidate is announced winner, from the calculation. If the wrong candidate is announced as winner, protest, passively resist, shout, cry, and support your candidate in court, until the right winner is put in position.
Beg if necessary, but vigilance is the way!!!
Another thing that Democracy entails is sports manly camaraderie.
This means everyone should be ready to accept defeat, if your candidate loses, congratulate the opposing side on a good election/race, this shows maturity.
What Democracy also entails and needs to survive and be nourished is a sound understanding of the fundamentals of Democracy.
Democracy requires, regular and definite elections, no interruptions or extensions. This is the first major foundation on which Democracy is built. (Upon which building blocks are added).
This is one of the most important features for a Young Democracy.
There are two major types of Democracies prevalent in the world, today, the Presidential style (USA) and the Westminster/Parliamentary style (UK).
A major building block that follows from that is a definite tenure, (4, 5 or 6 years) (in my opinion it should be one term of 5 years only) and peaceful transition of government/handovers of government.
The more handovers of government through Democratic means, that a Young Democracy and the Youths experience, the more entrenched the Democratic principles would be in the mind and soul of the people and the more difficult it would be for the Democracy to be scuttled or removed.
If a bad person wins the election legitimately, let him be, because you know that in 4 or 5 years, he must go, at the next election.
Youth prefer to say to themselves, “What am I doing in politics, without money?”, “I prefer to go and look for money or party, rather than be interested in who becomes what”.
But who knows that the richest man in a bad regime, bad government or bad economic situation, is worse than the poorest man in Ajegunle (A.J city), because he would have money, that he can’t do anything with (practically worthless) in his country, due to economic problems, insecurity and bad leadership. He would be more at risk, due to an unsafe environment.
It has been said that a people/country get the sort of government they deserve. Therefore, the Youth are responsible for the sort of government they get, and have no right to complain if the wrong person gets in and messes up the country.
A word is enough for the wise.
Bernie O. Grant
Public Relations Consultant & International Public Affairs Analyst
PS: Security is fundamental.
Protect your Leaders. Guard them, follow them everywhere you can, protect them, especially in light of the state of the polity, where assassinations and violence are the order of the day. This can be gleaned from the killings of some fine Gentlemen, in the persons of a former Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige and Engr. Funso Williams.
If they get your leader, they have gotten you.
Protect your investment. (Your Leaders are an expression of you and your plans for the society.)