The recognition of the power of the youth is no longer in doubt given the attention they have received from the EndSAR protest. While we mourn the souls lost in that mayhem, we look forward to better days ahead for the country as the youth take their rightful place in the scheme of things in this nation.
As if Okinbaloye of Channels TV, read my thoughts he was already discussing the next steps in his show last night. One of the key points a participant mentioned was the drive to have all the youths ensure they get their voters card by first quarter next year when the process commences. They noted the demographics are already in the youths favour given that over forty million of them constituted the INCE voter number.
The plan to ensure youths register is great but the fight will go beyond voter registration. The youth need a clear strategy on how to wrestle power from the old order. Like I asked on facebook the other day; can youth power match the financial muscle of the older order? Some people believe the youth can do that without saying how. Some contended they actually can muscle more finance than the old men.
The lack of a clear strategy can be said to be the reason for the failure or partial success of the EnSARS campaign. Like Natasha, past governorship aspirant in Kogi State, pointed out in the Okinbaloye’s show, when the government agreed to the five point request of the youth and agreed to talk, there was no body to talk to because the protesters insisted they had no leader. One can understand the fears since we have been there before, when so called leaders betrayed such movements, compromised and made money out of it. We are in the know of some people masquerading as democracy champions, even running news papers and media houses claiming to be doing investigative journalism and fighting for their people while their real intent is for their pockets. They sometimes provide genuine information and sometimes have been known to blackmail the same people they intend to expose for their corrupt riches. They have been known to use their places of trust to short-change the naive readers of their columns. I am sure the system and people know them. A clear evidence the system knows such people is that, some of them volunteered to contribute or even discretely take over the protest but were severely resisted. So in one hand you will not blame the youths for insisting they had no leader. Unfortunately it was that absence of leadership that enabled hoodlums to hijack the protest.
Having said that, in moving into the 2023 elections, the youth must realize in politics and leadership, stakeholder management is key. No stakeholder must be taken for granted as such can limit your achieving your objective. Being a youth is not about age but more of mentality. If anyone is progressive in thinking I believe he can be termed a youth. The old men can be leveraged for their experiences and finance while insisting that the core brains to drive the philosophy and mandate of the parties reside with the youth.
The youth need to development a political strategy. There is no magic wane. They could move in and take over the existing big parties like APC and PDP and reshape it in their image and likeness since they have the number and can insist on that. There is gain in doing that. These parties are on ground, have huge followership already of which the youth constitute a majority and have structures all over the country. The old parties have a baggage of bad reputation but that is the work that has to be done. They can also go into mergers and acquisitions with the likes of YPP, the vehicle Kingsley Muoghalu the former deputy Governor used in his last presidential bid.
The youth have to follow through in demanding electoral reforms, like insisting on use of electronic voting systems, early and remote voting for those that do not want the stress and scared of going to a voting booth, continuous voter registration like Natasha mentioned last night and passage of relevant laws to support same; to avoid the national shame of INEC boldly claiming they had no server. We have databases like BVN, phone numbers etc that can be synchronized to ensure any double voting is avoided and culprits prosecuted. The world has come of age and Nigeria cannot continue to live in denial. Over seventy million people leveraged early voting in the US presidential election scheduled held first week in November so what are we Monkeying about here?
Working out a strategy entails articulating and checkmating the old order while leveraging them where necessary to achieve the desired objective. We all wish Nigeria luck come 2023.
Obidike Peter is the Author of “Aladinma; eighties to nineties, a reconnect”
He wrote from www.peterobidike.come and firstname.lastname@example.org
29th October 2020
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