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The Dilemmas Of Political Policy System In Nigeria On Nigerian Youths

The Dilemmas Of Political Policy System In Nigeria On Nigerian Youths

Part 1:

Despite growing evidence of youth Activism and mobilization, Nigerian youths have yet to achieve the level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics.

Leadership deficits, money politics, poor internal democracy among the older parties, and an absence of a strategic political agenda pose ongoing barriers to young people playing a role in national development.

Africa’s political history is not complete without appreciating the roles that youths played in achieving their countries’ independence.

In the years leading to independence, youths were the driving force behind the nationalist activities that led to the dismantling and eventual overthrow of colonialism and the colonial masters.

Despite this, the role of youths in African politics has received less than commensurate attention in studies on democratization.

In Nigeria, the activities of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, H.O. Davies, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, and Samuel Akintola among many others in their 20s and 30s are legendary.

Some of these youths are reputed for the formation of political parties such as the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), which was the first political party in Nigeria, the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP), and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC).

These young Nigerians each used the media to speak against the evils of colonialism and demanded independence.

Nnamdi Azikiwe, for instance, was reputed for the use of his newspaper, the West African Pilot.

Through these avenues, they created awareness of the evils that foreign domination posed to the country and, despite various constitutional reforms, these young people demanded independence.

Their tenacity and determination eventually saw the country gaining independence from British colonial rule on 1 October 1960.

Dilemmas of political policy system
In the years after independence, particularly during the military era, young people opposed and fought gallantly against the profligacy and high-handedness of the military regimes of Yakubu Gowon and Olusegun Obasanjo, and during the brutal and inglorious regimes of Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha in the 1980s and 1990s an entire generation of youth and student organizations formed an umbrella under such organization as the National Association of Nigerian Students, the Campaign for Democracy, the Civil Liberties Organisation and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights.

These took the struggle to the streets of major cities across the country.

Despite the track record of older generation youths, Nigerian politics is fast becoming the exclusive preserve of the older politicians, as seen from the constant recycling of government officials, especially those in their 60s.

For many years, particularly after the country’s return to democratic governance in 1999, youths were at best seen as supporters, mobilizers or political foot soldiers hired to instigate violence, manipulate elections and intimidate opposing parties.

While this image is not completely the fault of the older generation, these groups enjoyed the idea of youths as political mercenaries rather than competitors.

Dilemmas of political policy system
With the signing into law of the *Not Too Young To Run Bill in 2019, led by President Muhammadu Buhari,* this trend seems to be changing as youths are beginning to see the importance of their role in governance.

The Bill was part of the advocacy role of YIAGA AFRICA – the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth, and Advancement – and the Not Too Young to Run Movement which opened up space to increased youth participation.

Among other changes to the electoral law, it reduced the age for presidential candidates from 40 to 35 and for House of Representatives candidates from 30 to 25 years.

As a result of the Bill, there is a positive trend in youth participation, with youth candidacy increasing from 21% in 2015 to 34.2% in the 2019 elections. Despite these changes, the number of youths aged 18–29 (based on the youth definition given by the National Youth Policy organization), voted into elective positions in Nigeria is less than 1%.

Further, there is no youth in the new cabinet formed by President Buhari, and neither is there a youth in the National Assembly. This is despite youths making up over 67% of registered voters, on average, which means that whoever they decide to vote for is sure of winning the election.

Poor funding and high costs of nomination forms for various offices remain a major obstacle to youth representation in politics to won.

In the run-up to the 2019 general election, the cost of nomination forms was as high as 45 million naira (US$125,000) for Presidential aspirants, 22.5 million (US$60,000) for governorship aspirants, 7 million (US$19,000) for the Senate, and 3.8 million (US$10,500) for the House of Representatives.

Few Nigerian youths are financially buoyant to pay these sums and, since donors and godfathers usually prefer older men whom they believe have the chances of winning, young people are naturally disenfranchised.

Thus, while in theory, they are Not Too Young To Run, in practice, the youth find themselves Too-Poor-To-Run and in a dilemma of how to mobilize sufficient funds to be ‘eligible’ for representation.

With a rapidly expanding population, the future of Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular belongs to the youth who have a vital role to play in national development.

Dilemmas of political policy system
The onus, therefore, rests on African leaders to ensure that young people are given the pride of place in African politics, particularly in Nigeria.

Written by:

Dawodu Kamorudeen Olayinka

*Watch out for the part 2*

The remedies of the dilemmas of the political policy system in Nigeria on Nigerian Youths

*Remedies For Dilemma's Of Nigeria Political Policy Systems On Nigerian's Youth.* 

Nigeria as the giant of Africa is experiencing political instability and one sided policy making body without including the youth.

At  the global level, there seems to be an understanding that youth are significant dividends of the global population, such that they need to be included in every decision-making process.

They are also recognized as key agents of socio-economic and political movers of the society. Despite this fact, on the ground, youth are marginalized and excluded from the political and important decision making processes.

This is truer in Africa than elsewhere in the world. Most politicians in Africa are failing to recognize this basic concern of the continent.

The Nigerian case is a typical example where most leaders are between 60 and 80 years of age's.

*What Do We Mean by “Youth”?* 

“Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the 

dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community.

Having understand the meaning of youth, this are the Way's Forward for youth

 *Establishing Legal Frameworks for the Political Participation of Youth* : Adopting a youths inclusive legal framework is an essential and primary step in mainstreaming the youth in the political aspects of a country like Nigeria.

It would allow youth to participate formally and improve their political roles in their societies.

The election is one of such means that political rights are exercised. In this particular case, the formalities and procedures of election should be friendly and take the conditions of youth into consideration.

It could be like making the age limit for voting to be youth-inclusive and establishing favourable legal conditions to enable youth to actively involved in elections.

 *Establishing Age Limit for All Politicians in the Nation* : Globally, it has been observed that in some West African countries, Presidents; try to stay on sit till between 80 and 90 years of age, while the youths are there unemployed.

Example is Robert Muogabe of Zimbabwe and others.

Since Professors, civil servants and some Bishops of some denomination retire at the age of 70, it will be good if the age limit of all political sits should expire at 70 years.

 *Empowering Youth Both politically and economically* : Nigerian youth's are not at in the orbit. They are rather observers of their older generations. So, it indicates that youth should be empowered to actively participate in the economic and political areas.

The first step in empowering youth should start from the employment creation and integrating them into entrepreneurial activities whereby they would think then about how they will impact the inclusive political momentum of their country.

Therefore, exposing youth into the working environments and supporting their entrepreneurship and strengthen the youth cooperatives and micro and small business enterprises has a big plus to laid a foundation for the political involvement of young peoples.

 *Introduction of Payment of Unemployed Nigerian Youth:* Developed countries like United State of America, adopted the payment of their unemployed youth as to reduce crime.

The Nigerian government can adopt the same measure for their youth to keep them going before they are gainfully employed. This will make them very inclusive in the scheme of affair of the society. 

Researchers, such as Milton Mutto shows that young peoples in Nigeria have an experience of being marginalized from the political and other important decision-making processes. This in turn contributes to youth to feel hopelessness and powerlessness.

This is also mentioned as one of the pushing factors for the young people to tend into illegal activities with a hope to be heard by the government and the public as well.

For this reason, various forms of projects and programs should be developed to allow youth to participate in political and development agendas.

Such programs may include, inter alia; the youth networks, youth-centered capacity building programs, advocacies, organizing and strengthening the youth clubs and associations and mainstreaming youth and their issues in the countries policies and programs.

The nation should also frame a quota or any kind of means to enable youth to have a representative from the local assemblies to the national parliament.

 *Youth Political Sensitization and Civic Engagement:* Media is one of the major instruments to raise the awareness level of youth thereby they can exercise their political rights and influence the decision of governments.

So, sensitizing the youth and the general community is a means to greater involvement in wider-angle of socioeconomic and political aspects.

On the other hand, youth participation in civic associations like community and religious groups will assist them to share information, foster leadership skills and to engage in political communities.

For example, Howe; P (2006) indicated that those who are considerably engaged in religious associations are more likely to participate in their country’s voting contest than who are not.

Similarly, the research done by McFarland and Thomas also revealed that in the United States of America, youth who 

participated in social (voluntary) associations are more likely to involve in the political aspects of US.

From here, one can understand that youth should be exposed to Medias and civic associations to increase their future political participations.

In a nutshell, as clearly stipulated above, Nigeria should establish, promote, and encourage Media to transmit information that benefits the youth.

Furthermore, education and training should also provide for young people to know and actively participate in the democratization, governance, and political fields of their countries.

In conclusion, the youth dividend in Nigeria is significant. Meanwhile, the attention given to it is considerably limited.

If the young population in Nigeria is utilized properly, it would be a potential resource to uplift the nation and to see the Nigeria as everybody wants.

Unless and otherwise, as we have seen during the 2011/12  Arab uprising and popular demonstration, the youth of Nigeria would become a threat for the governments that exclude the issues of this segment of the population.

So, youth inclusion in the political aspects of Nigeria is very critical in a sense that it is a great machinery to reinvent the governance structure of Nigeria. 

Therefore, creating an enabling and equitable environment for youth in Nigeria is unquestionable.

Written by Dawodu Kamorudeen Olayinka

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