First and foremost, I want to apologize for the absence of this column for the past two weeks. I never thought I would one day have to apologize for not showing up. But as we have it now, I DEEPLY apologize.
Martin Luther King Jr was 26 when he led the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott and gave one of the most famous speeches of all time which he titled I Have A Dream at 34. Lee Kuan Yew was 35 when he became Prime Minister of Singapore at independence where he cried on national television while declaring independence. JFK of the United States, might I say was elected to represent his constituency at the ripe age of 30. Our own Yakubu Gowon became Head of State at 32 and was not even married at the time. Well, age they say is just a number but if you have started asking what is wrong with this generation, then we are together.
Tomorrow, Hundreds of Youths will be gathering together at the Oduduwa Hall of Obafemi Awolowo University to discuss the topic RESHAPING NIGERIA: What can we the youths do? As an advocate of youth inclusion in politics, I have decided to put down my thoughts as far as this topic is concerned and I hope for the umpteenth time that somebody somewhere will read this and take action, if not, I will be writing in vain.
No Doubt, Nigeria needs to be reshaped or reformed or transformed or changed. In Fact, any verb that can depict a progression from worse to better will do a good job in describing the kind of experience that Nigerians need to experience. I can go ahead and name all the woes and the problems that currently bedevil us in this country but there are plenty of books that have already been written on that topic.
What I focus on here is an attempt to simply answer that question, what can we the youths do? Most of the pieces that I have read and have written myself are mostly vague or ambiguous or at their best broad so that by the time the reader is done, there is a difficulty in knowing where to start. This one is different.
What does it take to RESHAPE a country?
We will both (writer and reader) be dilly-dallying if we can’t find an answer to this question and that is why I will attempt an answer before I then propose what we as youths can do. RESHAPING a country is not “beans”. It took Singapore 37 years before the Supreme Leader could label it a First World country in a book he titled “From Third World to First”. Some 75 years ago, votes were still being sold at a price in the US and for much more in the UK (N308,900 in today’s currency). Till tomorrow and hopefully not until kingdom come, racism is still a part of the western society even after bills were signed and popular figures were assassinated and again despite a black-American occupying the most prestigious seat in the Western world. It is this against this backdrop that I smiled when I observed the 100 days debate that Twitter activists/overlords engaged in earlier this week .
It takes an erasing of traditions, routines, cultures, mentality, habits and prejudices, an unwinding of interwoven and interlocked habits that have gelled to become a lifestyle, a painstaking process of teaching old dogs new tricks and learning without example. The truth is it takes a whole lot that can NOT be achieved in 100 days of office whether such was promised or not.
What can we the Youths DO?
In simplistic terms, I attempt to propose the following in a manner that no matter how rich or poor or indisposed or disposed or razz or ‘tush’ any youth may be, s/he can pick one of these action plans and DO. Again, I hope someone somewhere will finish reading this and take ACTION
This is one thing we all can keep doing irrespective of the class we belong to in society. Yes, it is true that we have more than enough ideas already about how to reshape Nigeria but let us not be deceived, what we gain by discussing issues that pertain to Nigeria and our involvement as youths is not just the ideas that we get about how to change a sector but bringing to the fore our resolve to DO something about it. One of such discussions could be providing answers to the question of how to reshape a country. The truth is there is usually a stronger resolve after every discussion and the more people we have with that kind of political will to effect a change, the merrier.
A lot of youths are hungry for change and are to a large extent ready for activities that will be channelled in that direction. However, there is most times a gap in the intellectual approach to effecting that change. When we have people with ideas and the intellectual capacity to effect the change that we all seek sharing these ideas and spreading this knowledge, the more knowledgeable and effective the train of change becomes and Knowledge they say, is POWER
This is weightier and a lot harder than the previous two. I was once in an intervention meeting for an organization I was part of and one problem that was identified that cuts across the Nigerian Youth space is what a friend called AGONISATION. All we seem to do is Agonize about how something is bad and how government is not doing its job and how the cost of government is high and a host of other things. Like Budgit, EiE and CCHub’s Hackathon slogan, “Not every time RANT, sometimes ACT, we need to start organizing for change. Let us be factual, there are not enough civil society organisations in Nigeria or let me re-phrase, there are not enough functioning civil society organisations. Let us pack up all these AGONISATIONS that we have and emulate our forefathers who established a Nigerian Youth Movement to serve as the ORGANISATION with which they are to channel their grievances and effect change.
DEMAND Whatever it is that is wrong with our society, it will only change if we demand that it does. There are a lot of youths that are either unemployed or underemployed when unemployment rate is at an all time high and policies that ensure that this rate remains at that level continue to be established in political circles. The strength and the vigour and the youthfulness of many can be effectively channelled into seeing that what is demanded is gotten. I am yet to see a students’ protest that is not about light or water or increase in school fees and yet, these are youths that will sooner or later be affected by the society’s ills. If we want a better life, We have no choice than to DEMAND that life until we have it.
This part is the most difficult of all and apart from APC’s recent inclusion of two youth leaders in their board of trustees, it seemed as though there is no hope. I have most times asked myself, What does it take to represent your people in a parliament that a 20 year old Mhairi Black in the UK possesses that a 20 year old Nigerian does not possess? There would have to be a revolution, not necessarily a bloody one, but something close to the events that happened during the last days of Martin Luther King before the young leaders of today will no longer be disenfranchised from been voted for. Of course, Age is just a number and being young does not necessarily mean that one has better to offer, but again, that is no reason to disenfranchise the remaining fraction of young leaders who have something and in fact, more than enough to offer. Getting involved in politics means deliberately identifying the current opportunities that exist in the political atmosphere and seizing those opportunities to the best of your knowledge while we await the revolution.
In reshaping Nigeria, we have a role to play, howbeit, restricted. But, that is no excuse to be limited. The sad truth however is until we as youths can maximise our potentials and contribute actively and directly with the arsenal of power and authority in our hands, to make decisions and draft policies, to ensure implementation and drive public participation, to engage our people and develop our slums, to create opportunities where there seemed to be none and lift our people out of poverty, reshaping this country will be an effort from the fringes, a task I hope will not only be in futility but will also serve as the stepping stone to ‘revolution’ I so much await.
I tweet @juded27
Do take special note that this Article was written by Today’s Columnist EXCLUSIVELY for thesheet.ng. It is therefore not meant to be copied and republished in part or whole on any Website or Blog or any where else with the pretence that it is general content circulating on the Internet. ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP remains that of Thesheet.ng.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of materials in this column without any written permission from the publishers of thesheet.ng is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to thesheet.ng with appropriate and specific links to the original content on the sheet.ng.
Got a news tip/information for us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow us on twitter @thesheetng
BBM Channel: C0042057A
Like us on Facebook @ www.facebook.com / The Sheet
This is a 2015 Copyright of thesheet.ng. You may wish to request express approval from thesheet.ng to republish