There is no lack of attention on the matter of youth participation when it comes to politics in Nigeria. This is a subject every opinionated blogger on Nigerian politics has tried to flag up for action. So why aren’t the Nigerian youth stepping up to the plate to make a political statement? Why is there no serious union of Nigerian youths that can even influence who gets voted into office? Why is there no emerging young Nigerian with progressive ideas in the political limelight?
First and foremost we must consider the decision to get involved in politics as a starting point. From as early as I could remember my father pointed out to me that politics was a dirty business in Nigeria. Looking at the current political landscape in the country you don’t need to have graduated secondary school to see the truth in his advice. This is to say that from an early age the average Nigerian is already discouraged from political participation and let’s not get into the threat of assassination that our parents warn of.
So let’s fast forward a few years when we are old enough to analyze the situation and make our own decision. At this point the well-meaning potential politician can see the ugly nature of Nigerian politics and must now contemplate if there is any room for the righteous to progress given the common practice of nepotism and Godfather roles in the country. For the poor Nigerian with a dependent family and relatives, the luxury of time to be spent on building a political career seems like a far-fetched dream when family pressure and a drained bank account points to getting a white collar job or starting a business. For the rich Nigerian young man or woman, the allure of taking over the family business to maintain the status of wealth forms a stumbling block to political ambitions. Not to mention the urge for effecting change in society is least among the rich as they already live in comfort. As the saying goes, you cannot anger a man on a full stomach. Moving to the middle class, the population of this class is very low in Nigeria, and when trying to hold a job to stay afloat it is difficult to accommodate political dreams.
This leaves political participation largely in the hands youths prone to corruption and lacking in ideals with no real ambition for a future. These section of the population are just as corruptible as the present political class and will roll over for the smallest amount of money thrown at them by those in power. Unfortunately the rise of materialism and narcissism thanks to the media space has brainwashed a large population of our youth into misplacing our priority. Just a look at the most popular Nigerian blogs and celebrities. This will tell you what the youth of today dedicate our time and thoughts to. While I would like to believe that this is a case of a few bad apples, the reality is that this holds true for majority of young Nigerians from affluent homes. Political awareness is more or less dead among these people.
It will take a special kind of thinker dedicated to a vision of creating a better Nigeria to set off on the path of politics, and even then the road will be one demanding of exceptional sacrifice. Most young Nigerians with this mindset find themselves trapped in the role of political and cultural critic with their hands tied due to lack of support and perpetual fear, or they defect to other countries where they believe their mind and skills will serve them better. We can only hope that in time the youth will wake up to the responsibility of building the country we wish to live in, but as it stands today, we are not quite there yet.
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