“I have been brought today to the position of having to shoulder the great responsibilities of the Country…” These are the words of General Yakubu Gowon, who became Nigeria’s Head of State at the Age of 32. Gowon went on to introduce the National Youth Service Corps scheme, by decree No 24 of May 22, 1973, which decades after, continues to sow a seed of unity among Nigerian graduates from different walks of life. In an age of information technology, there is a great outburst of knowledge and social awareness which has vastly enhanced the capacity and capability of Youths.
From the Arab Spring which started in 2010, where Youths spearheaded the revolution to demand for change in government, to various walks and protest; youths around the world have not only proven Plato right, by saying that “Man is a Political being”, but have gone a step further to prove their relevance in Political matters. They have indeed echoed the words of Benjamin Disreali that “We live in an age when to be young and indifferent can no longer be synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the future are represented by suffering millions and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of posterity”
The United Nations recognises a Youth to be between the ages of 18 and 40, thus, bringing about 68 Million Nigerians under this bracket (Ministry of Youth Development, 2012). If Nigeria’s Youth population were a nation, it would be the 4th Most Populous in Africa and 19th in the World. Definitely, only a Youth would head this hypothetical Africa’s 4th Most Populous country. With Tertiary Institutions as a case study, the Student Union Elections are a pointer to Youth’s drive for Politics. In the larger picture however, one cannot dispute Youth’s inclusiveness in Nigeria’s Politics, albeit in condescending circumstances of thuggery and perpetuation of various dastardly acts. In a bid to correct this, Youths should be seen through the eyes of Benjamin Disreali when he said “Youths of a nations are the trustees of Posterity”, how succinct!
Youth inclusion in Politics may take up a form of apprenticeship. A good follower would likely make a good leader as in the words of Aristotle that “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader”. From the grassroots, where youths hold sensitive positions from Course Prefect, Union Presidents, Member of School Parliaments, and thus mingle with political stalwarts, it is only wise to catch them young and watch them grow, grooming them for the journey ahead.
From training in places like the Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, spread across six geopolitical zones of the country, where leadership skills are honed; to visits to Parliamentary houses to observe political events, Youths would feel a certain belonging to the Political class and learn positive political skills. While a Youth Parliament exists where these skills are put to test, a wider exposure is needed and a projection of their effort to the wider community while also adopting resolutions they agree on.
With Twitter, Facebook and several social networks with youths bursting at the seams, it is an indicator that Youths are well-informed, and armed with so much time at their beck and call. With these vast resources at their finger-tips, they are better informed of the suffering of their fellow colleagues and can thus forge a way forward. It would be recalled that General Yakubu Gowon at a youthful age of 34, charged with ensuring the singleness of the country, marshalled Nigeria through three years of a bloody civil war – One that would have culminated in the near-extinction of Africa’s Giant. While it may be quick to eliminate any form of connection of this victory to Gowon’s youthfulness, the case of Sudan, headed by 67 year old Omar Al-Bashir, far from Youth hood as at 2011 when the country split into two, may lend credence to this fact. Youths, brimming with ideas make good politicians.
The Christian’s Holy book says “The glory of the Youth is in their strength”. With stressful schedules and rigors associated with occupying political offices, such demanding offices are best occupied by youths with youthful zeal and exuberance, waiting eagerly to perform. Also, as a bridge between the younger generation and the older one, he would be a central figure, seeing the past or effects of policies that have been used in the past, while juxtaposing it with ones that should ideally serve generations to come. This would ensure the making of better suited laws.
If the saying “Youths are the future of tomorrow” is anything to go by, and as Nike said “tomorrow starts now”, then it is high time youths are included in Politics, and nation-building at large. Youth inclusion in Politics is a sine qua non to the preservation of the ideals of true governance –Continuity.
Youths, who are well trained, will definitely walk in the steps of their political role model, in ensuring that the dreams for a nation transcends several generations. As in the second stanza of our National Anthem, that the labours of our heroes past, may not be in vain, it is high time youth inclusion in Politics took centre stage at policy-making tables. From gatherings like the just-concluded National Conference, to the National Assembly and various State House of Assembly, policies favouring youth inclusion in politics should be formulated to harness the vast resources and tap into the brilliant minds of Youth, because the future of this Nigeria lies on our shoulders. A stitch in time saves nine.
This opinion on how to include the Youth in Politics written by Joseph Udofia was culled from paarapo.com
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