Rather than complaining about mismanagement, corruption and failure of governments at different levels, SING Nigeria, has advised young Nigerians to take their destinies into their hands by engaging in active political activities in order to see the change they desire.
The organization gave the advice in a press statement signed by Victor Agi, the Communications Manager to mark this year’s Independence Day celebration, stressing that the nation is in dire need of leaders who understand the 21st century dynamics.
Referring to the cost of past mismanagement to the nation’s development, the statement noted that, “these realities underscore the need for the country to have the right leaders who would put the nation’s rich potential to resourceful use, and the role of young people in causing a political shift from the old order into a visionary collection that have the key to unlocking the nation’s potential cannot be overemphasized.”
The statement called on Nigerian youth to get more involved in the business of politics, noting that power is not given but taken through the political process.
“Our message to young people is to release themselves and take their destinies into their hands through active participation in legitimate political process; because, ‘the only real prison is fear, and the only real freedom is freedom from fear’.
“The need to transit from social media activism and protests, which indeed are important tools of accountability, into sustainable political participation and engagement that demand for positive change in the body polity should begin as we look forward to the next general elections”, the statement read in part.
Agi said that this year’s Independence Day celebration provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on their journey to nationhood, saying that the unbroken democracy since 1999 remains a milestone.
“The current journey in our political history which began in 1999 has equally placed the nation among the comity of nations that entrench democratic principles, allowing citizens to freely choose their leaders, and we have successfully, as provided for, in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution, witnessed the transfer of power from one Executive President to another.
“This unbroken democratic cycle, despite challenges of electoral corruption, gives credence to our constitutional sovereignty”, he concluded.
Ene-Obi, Prof. omotoye, Others Identify Strategies for Youth Involvement
At a virtual session organized by SING Nigeria to explore mechanisms and strategies required to transform the increasingly vocal voices of Nigerian Youths from offline or online activism into significant political gains, stakeholders in the Nigerian project have identified sustainable strategies and approaches.
Ene Obi, the Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria, said that the ENDSARS protest became inevitable as leaders continue to fail in their assignment, calling on young people to seize the opportunity to take over the political space.
“Like the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States of America, Nigeria Lives also matters; we are not agonizing, we are only organizing to hold our government accountable. We need to encourage young people as they protest; these young people would at some point take control.
“The lack of investment in young people is the reason for young people going on the street to protest against the system.
“The EndSARS protest shows that youth are everywhere, and massive voter registration must begin across the states. The youth must rise, and rising through elections is the way to go. We have enabled the politicians, through our political apathy, to continue to play with our lives, and unless we are ready to vote, we may continue in this cycle”, she declared.
Professor Omoteye Olorede, an academia and right activist, who decried the weaponization of security agencies by the ruling class, as well as widespread hunger and poverty, submitted that if the youth would indeed take their destiny into their hands, “it’s not sufficient to join a new party so as to win election, the goal must be properly defined if we must be able to change the system.”
Speaking further on strategies the youth should evolve for active participation in politics, Maryam Laushi, a communication strategist, said that there is more work in advocacy than just protesting.
“While the desire for change is in many young people, we must go beyond protesting to active participation in the political process, we must transfer the same energy from the protest to politics; at the community level, young people should engage and mobilise their peers and elders, and we must be able to properly communicate our ideas”, she advised.
In the same vein, the Governance and Development Manager at Yiaga Africa, Ibrahim Faruk also enjoined youth to leverage on the positive energy from the last protest going forward.
“Beyond coming out to protest, there must be deliberate political engagement to follow up on the demands of protest. While social media is effective during the last protest, we have not been able to sustain our engagement. The energy from the protest has not been transferred to spotlight the Judicial Panels of Inquiry for instance”, Faruk said, adding that, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and we must all come out to vote and enforce the change we want.”