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Quick fix series 2: Defining basis for youth participation in politics

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Ezeani Chukwunonso Elvis

The Peoples’ Democratic Party [PDP] created a national convention committee and no young person made the list of over one hundred Nigerians from across Nigeria selected into committees created to ensure the success of that event.

Image: The author, Ezeani Chukwunonso Elvis

Members of the youth (caucus) are angry. 

Nearly every stakeholder is miffed that the national leadership of the party may have snubbed a constituency which I am told is responsible for the resurrection of the party but I am not surprised. 

An official of the party had hinted me on what to expect when he referred to a passing member of the youth caucus saying:

“This one is just wasting his time coming here (Wadata Plaza) every day. He thinks we know him”.

I am an advocate of involving young persons in governance but this kind of involvement must at all times be strictly on the basis of the value such persons bring along with them and nothing more.

In advanced business practise, merit can be excused when value is sufficient hence merit may not be the only basis that guides the involvement of young persons in government.

In this period of global cash crunch, nothing can be of more appeal to results driven politicians than a chance to acquire for themselves an array of young aides vast in matters related to alternative sources of revenue, export development and advancement of foreign trade on a comparative cost advantage basis. 

This is a global trend which Nigeria must submit to.

Before now, some associates of mine have served governments across tiers and arms. 

As propelled by my attitude, I’d normally hold serious conversations with them as means of guiding them to deliver on their tasks. 

Unfortunately, just a handful of them understood the implication of their status as aides to principals’ whose actions determined the outcome of hundreds of other citizens.

Shortly after this dispensation settled, I was requested to set up structures for a media support group which would provide publicity to the work of a governor and government of a state in North East Nigeria; one of those worst hit by Boko Haram terrorists.

I evaluated that brief, created a term of reference for my company (because I wasn’t given one) and had 2 staff of a local television station domiciled in that state seconded to me as field workers. 

Halfway into the contract, I realized I was struggling to provide the said services. 

After consulting a major power broker in that state who served as my link to the governor, I excused my company from the contract and exited serving that government.

That state was ever broke and always in need of bailout. 

The governor understood that unless something urgent was done, even salaries will not be paid promptly. 

I therefore did not understand why he did not solve this challenge by engaging persons who can help him like Kaduna State governor who saddled ex-banking guru ‘Jimi Lawal with the task of winning foreign business to his state did.

The cost of operating government business has risen and the political class understands this new trouble. 

More than ever, emphasis is now being placed on sources of income over expenses. 

Therefore, if young persons must participate in governance, the basis for such participation must be directly linked to their verifiable capacity to solve pressing challenges.

I agree with a section of public opinion which advocates a change of hands at the most important cells of leadership but I am concerned about the preparedness of the younger generation to provide an alternative. 

Less than 24 months ago, Nigerians were in a hurry to test the capacity of the APC as an alternative to the PDP. 

In this hurry, plenty questions which could have served as key performance indicators for current President Muhammadu Buhari were not asked. 

Critical issues concerning his preparedness were not raised or sufficiently resolved. 

The harsh consequences of these errors currently stare us in the face. 

Power therefore cannot hurriedly be transferred to young persons when their capacity to be better leaders is yet to be precisely determined.

So far, the extent to which I can attest to the fitness of young Nigerians for leadership is limited to their capacity to provide media coverage to political events leveraging on the laxity of social media. 

This is normally done alone very narrow party lines which is often misleading if not dishonest. 

Beyond this may be their ability to hold rallies in support of ideologies they may be unable to clearly define. 

This is equally not sufficient to conclude they are useful. 

Very few of them can effectively proffer what may pass as alternatives to economic challenges. 

Where this was achieved, the arguments were normally placed firmly along party lines, spiced with ethnic and religious ingredients which are often offensive and repugnant. 

No one goes beyond this ceiling. How then can these persons be trusted with a task as heavy as crafting and defining industrial, economic, fiscal or even foreign policies?

MY QUICK FIX SOLUTION:

There’s just one way to get appropriate recognition in politics and it is by adding value to the process. 

Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce is of the view that most Nigerian youth; especially those on the PDP side of the political divide are jobless hence they have the luxury of engaging in never ending fisticuffs on social media. 

According to the senator, unless they are gainfully employed, they will remain at the mercy of politicians who manipulate them for their own gains but to the peril of the manipulated. 

There’s no better way to explain an idle mind being the devils’ workshop than this.

The jobless state of the kind of youth the senator talked about stems from the truth that they barely educated thus, requisite skill and capacity to function outside a typical Nigerian irregular system is it political or the organized private sector is lacking. 

Even those who possess some qualification issued on paper lack composure and tact to justify the document. 

Perhaps, they are products of the education quota system.

A fellow citizen disclosed to me an invention over which he had patent. 

A Bio-Products developer and a member of the G100, eCoMagination Challenge in America, I was impressed that a Nigerian had reached that height as he is already in talks with some multinational corporations who hope to utilize his invention in their businesses. 

Another reached out, indicating his capacity to grow plants without soil but air; even Yams. 

He would leverage on an agric procedure supported by new technology. 

A third; an associate of mine currently resident in Austria offered to rival google Inc. in providing GPRS mapping services for major transport corridors within the Lagos. 

I promptly offered to assist him obtain the necessary collaborations and extend the initiative to the Abuja metropolis and Anambra State. 

Even another associate of mine talked about building an internet city and only needed collaboration with a state which would provide some support for the project to start. 

These disclosures are mind blowing; mainly because they are innovative and entrepreneurial with plenty capacity to attract earnings running into billions of dollars as revenue.

These categories of persons inspire me greatly. 

My association and constant interaction with them is responsible for my disdain for any young Nigerian who isn’t planning to create value for society. 

Why should these persons be de-emphasised over their clearly less effective contemporaries?

For the youth to get proper recognition in politics beyond being hired to run errands for politicians, perform basic domestic tasks and burn resources on facebook and twitter, a major break away from electronic redundancy must happen. 

Our youth must begin to task their intelligence and develop themselves educationally alongside their skills and areas of competence to enhance their worth and usefulness. 

The time to get this done is now.

Ezeani, Chukwunonso Elvis is an avid thinker, reader & researcher. He tweets @NonsoEzeani1

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