By Issa Itopa Lucky
The 2023 Presidential poll is almost here. Political horsetrading to the left and to the right, is expectedly beginning any time soon.
The clamour for youth leadership in the country is yet again coming to the forefront of the political discussions. The youths want to take their own destinies same as that of the country into their own hands. In 2019, a handful of youths contested for the Presidency office, some of which include Kingsley Moghau, Omoyele Sowore, to mention but a few.
In the build up to the 2019 polls, a lot of drama took place. Few weeks to the polls, it became obvious that the youths have literally chickened out, suffice to say actually that they “sold out”. It was as if to say many of them only came up with platforms not actually for contesting election but for acquiring fame and “cashing out” in the process.
As 2023 beckons, the big question is, will the youths sell out again? Are the youths contesting with genuine intent this time or are they contesting with sinister motive and intent to swindle their fellow youths for money and other selfish profits?
The elderly politicians that are in their 60s and 70s are veterans in the game. They have their supporters, many of which are youths.
Will the youths be able to rally around themselves this time? Will they decide on putting forward only one or maximum of two aspirants from among themselves and rally round that one or those two put forward from among them? Or will they divide themselves along selfish lines too many to be counted.
Will the struggles of activists like Sowore finally pay off in 2023? Or will Sowore continue in the trenches in 2023?
Kingsley Moghalu is not getting any younger. In 2023 he can still boast of being around the youthful bracket but the big question is, will the youths rally around him?
These are big questions the youths only, can actually answer.
The youths of Nigeria are the main carriers of campaigns of politicians, supporting one of their own for the highest office in the land is not a bad idea. However what is worrisome is the fact the youths are fond of selling their support to even the slightest of bids. With a few Naira they will support any candidate. On the election day it is worse as vote-buying is fast-becoming a norm in Nigeria.
It is hoped that in 2023 the youths will come together under one umbrella and stand by one of their own to contest and win the election into the highest office in the land.
The youths must also decide to stop participating in votes-rigging and all manner of electoral malpractices. Given a free and fair election, the youths will do well. 2023 can be that year when the youths stand by each other in solidarity.
The youths of Nigeria must begin to cultivate the habit of trusting each other when it comes to matters of leadership. It is time for the youths of Nigeria to graduate their activism into forming a youth party or a mega coalition party of youths that will wrestle power from the current political class. The youths can do it if they believe in themselves enough.
What the youths really need is contentment and determination. Contentment in the sense that they must be ready to refuse inducements and stick by their conscience and what they feel is right for the country. Determination in that they must be patriotic and patriotic to the core. One who is patriotic to one’s nation will not accept inducement to vote. Voting is an art of patriotism in itself. The youths must ensure they vote in the country’s best interest in 2023.
2023 is not the year for Nigerian youths to assume the state of the nation does not concern them. 2023 is not the year for Nigerian youths to sell their votes for anything.
The youths should crowd-fund for one of their own, if money is the challenge as to why youthful campaigns don’t have the same impact like that of the elderly.
Youths of Nigeria must do away with ethnic bias when giving their support. Poverty, religious bias and ethnic incitement is one set of tools by which the political elites are dividing the youths. The youths must resist the political elites on such grounds this time around and insist on issue-based campaigns only.
The political elite will never come out in public to fight one another across ethnic or religious lines but they will easily incite and watch the youths fight themselves over ethnic or religious difference.
Ahead of 2023, the youths must put aside ethnic and religious divide and their quest for anything to sell their support for, and give their votes to who their conscience directs.
In all of these admonitions, the fact is clear, there are competent hands among the youths, that can lead Nigeria in 2023 but the big question however is, will the youths sell out again or will they stand by each other this time to the end?