It is no longer in doubt that the country’s political sphere gives little or no room to the growing youths in the society. With the current Nigerian elite system revolving in a circular direction, the youths are left with despair and dissuasion in participating in the political system. The interest groups, organized entities, governmental bodies and non-governmental institutions are dominated by the middle aged individuals who run the tasks and pilot affairs to be performed and carried out.
Age grade plays a huge role in undermining the qualifications of the youths, especially as numerous key positions of varying sectors of the nation can only be occupied by individuals at middle-ages. Some people still harbour that concept, idea, belief, and the mentality that age determines one’s skill, knowledge and wisdom. Needless to say, any right thinking person knows that it is a very clear fact that age does not determine one’s capabilities and professionalism.
While the country remains resolute on its high level of unemployment and poor educational system, the full-fledged youths are compelled either willingly or reluctantly to full scale criminal activities. Undoubtedly, several jobless youths play major roles in prostitution, kidnapping, theft, vandalism, terrorism, cyber/internet scams and so many others as this has become the order of the day. The youths are often ignored by the elder statesmen and figures, even as the dwindling educational sector continues to rot in shambles to the embarrassment of the nation. The rights of the youths are habitually denied, and yet, are persuaded by statesmen, distinguished figures and politicians to secure their ambitions. The people have no say in the Nigerian political system. They are not even motivated to express their public opinions freely in the press.
Their freedom of speech is short-lived as their clamour for the defence of their rights are unobserved and disregarded. The media outlets are occasionally restricted and the media reporters are often persuaded by superior elites or in the worst cases, threatened not to utter any defamatory statements that will dent the reputation or to criticize their leadership style. The constitution clearly states the freedom of expression, but in reality, these rights are not assured. And yet, majority of the votes are carried out by the youths of mostly ages 18-30 years. These are the leaders that we cast our votes for, these are the appointed leaders whom the people have placed their hope on, these are the superiors whom we entrusted as our representatives to foster peace and development in the various sectors of the nation’s system.
The Nigerian youths are gullible and are made easily available instruments for excessive and unhealthy politicking by the political figures. During polls, rallies and campaigns, the docile youths play into the hands of the elites. They are often hired by their bosses as thugs and “area boys” to instil fear into the minds of their rivals. Rented and sponsored youths are manipulated to promote election victory, blackmailing, and setbacks to the selfish aims of the elites and to the detriment of the people.
Youths have no role to play in the humongous Nigerian political and economic sector, as the same aged men and women continue to hold the dignified positions of the sectors. Even where there are possibilities of the “big men and women” stepping down from their positions, the term “godfatherism”, another huge problematic situation, is brought to the scene as these top officials personally instil their own desired people who will submit his loyalty and commitment to the grand wishes and yearnings of the senior elites in those vacant position. It is a political game of the “puppet and puppeteer”. In other words, the dominant heads still remains the key players in the field of politics, and this justifies the circulatory elite practices in the political background. Our elected public office holders are no longer pursuing the desires and longing of the masses, but are seeking their selfish goals and the beautification of their respective parties. Youths are hired as assassins by unscrupulous and unethical public office holders to eliminate detractors and critics that tarnish the reputation and unearth the bad image of their corrupt practices. Over the years and even at recent times, the democratically practiced system exists for the few elites, not the masses. The youths do not take any reasonable share from the dividends of the democratic system. Corruption is ubiquitous, continuous, prevalent, and is deeply rooted in every nook and cranny of all sectors of the country including the NGOs, customary groups, civil groups, youth groups, and even the weak judicial system. In obvious moments where the youths revolt against such heinous and unconstitutional acts performed by their leaders through peaceful protests, they are forcefully made to be put to a halt and dispersed by the police force.
Some notable figures would lay claims that the protests and radical movements carried out by the aggrieved youths are politically motivated. Even those whom the people look up to for security aid are degenerating into a corrupt entity and are likewise becoming politicized. Rather than living up to their full responsibilities and duties, they are sometimes found wanting in positive outlook and carry out duties from the so-called “orders from above”. In horrible situations whereby security operatives carry out extra-judicial killings, execution, bribe, illegitimate arrests and several wrongful acts on their own free will is unbecoming and uncalled for. Denial of rights has deeply infuriated the people, making them become highly involved in crime and gross misconduct. Despite being pushed to the edge to commit criminal offenses (due to poverty, joblessness, neglect, hardship, despair, and sundry issues), they get caught and arrested by the law enforcers as criminals and are made to face the full wrath of the law. To add fuel to the fire, the leaders sign and issues harsh punitive laws such as death penalties and lengthy jail terms on those who commit illegal acts, even if it is a minute delinquency. We have seen or rather, still observing lots of scenarios where ordinary people are made to face inconsiderable punishment for unlawful acts and misbehaviours while our corrupt and indecorous leaders roam scot-free with their grotesque misdeeds.
In most cases, the charges against these rulers are either put into indefinite suspension, or are withdrawn. Some of these acclaimed eminent public officials who were guilty of misappropriation of public funds are given cheap prison sentences, and are later discharged and acquitted from prison. Even more, the evidence and charges provided against them are squashed and swept under the carpet. They are not just set free, but are rather let loose to proceed with their horrid acts in a different angle. Criminal leaders who deserve to face the penalty of their wrong actions are no longer subjected to the law, but are now above the law.
This is complete injustice and blatant impunity of the highest order. We can sadly look and watch these corrupt heads siphon our resources and public funds into their private accounts and pockets. Irresponsible and aimless leaders have painted a gross image and a bad reputation for our country. Nevertheless, some public office holders have left pungent trails of dishonesty and indiscipline to the younger generation to emulate. Poor leadership and injustice are not wiped away completely from the surface of the political sphere, but are bequeathed to the young generations who will then take over in their long-awaited years as leaders, elites, technocrats, and then the horrendous cycle keeps on. Additionally, we live in a hilarious society in which ordinary minds celebrate the lavishing lifestyles of ignoble leaders who act independently or have combined efforts in a unanimous zeal and desire to remain unbendable and unyielding in the massive looting of the national/state treasury.
Shocking as it may seem, the simple-minded citizens strive to defend the actions and inactions of these unjust officials either based on favour, money interest, ethnic and religious grounds, even where suspicions or proof arises from their obtained ill-gotten wealth, and the “modus operandi” of their management system. Various unproductive and inept leaders in almost all private and public sectors of the country’s leadership system occupying positions are receiving honorary awards, and on the other hand, in our diminishing educational institutions, awards and certificates which should be awarded to top-notch and excellent students are not conducted in some schools, colleges, including some tertiary institutions.
The youths have been taken lightly and their positions in the society are shallow, melancholy, undeserving, and pitiful. It is so appalling to see the future leaders of tomorrow enclosed in a labyrinth of endless suffering, fear of terror, abject poverty, abuse of rights, hopelessness, inequality, criminality, illiteracy, and a host of others, and this raises lots of arguments and questions about the seemingly unending situation. Our beloved youths are continuously enduring the hardship and agony inflicted on them. Why are the youths so poorly favoured? How long do the youths tend to remain onlookers of the scene? When will they begin to realize their full potentials? When will our youths awake from their slumber and stand their ground? Will the youths have their say in the political system? Will they have roles to play in the public and private sectors? Is there any hope that the youths can be acknowledged in the authority? How can the people emerge successful from the debacle in the society that we live in? How long will the people continue to suffer and remain in silence? Where does their fate lie? How long do we want to persevere in our ignorance? When will their lights be rekindled? When will there be full restoration of our hope?
Nevertheless, until all our well meaning youths unanimously decide in taking their stance in full political participation, there would definitely be little or no possibility of engaging or being acknowledged in the country’s economic, social and political climate.
BY: CHUKWUEMEKA OBINNA