One the big ideas of this column have been the idea that people power is much greater than the people in power. As I have made very clear here several times, rather than wait for some non-existent savior to bring “good leadership”; Nigerians can work together to reclaim the political system from looter politicians so we can take a huge leap forward as a country.
Regular readers might have noticed that for the last few weeks, this column has centered on how young Nigerians can realistically influence Nigeria’s political landscape. More specifically, we’ve talked about the influence of money in politics, and the need to train our politicians and I am sure there are a lot more brilliant and radical ideas about how we can take back our country through properly manipulating the political process.
I think the next elections in 2015 are an amazing opportunity for young Nigerians to try out some of these ideas of how a few of us can, with some strategic political action, change the balance of powers. Hence this week, I want to take the time to focus on one of those big ideas.
For the last week, I have been mulling the thought that Nigeria badly needs a well funded, transparently managed, youth focused political action committee.
As we have previously talked about in this column, the language of politics is money and Nigerian youth must not be shy to speak it. Change via social media is cutesy but far from realistic. Real change happens on the streets, and guess what –it takes resources –billions of naira in resources. Passion is far from enough.
Political action committees have a bad rap in US politics (thank you Karl Rove!) but I think they can be real game changers. For the uninitiated, a political action committee is an organization that campaigns for or against, political candidates, ballot initiatives and legislation. Essentially, these organizations, because they are not campaign organizations bound by formal election rules, can receive unlimited personal and corporate contributions from anonymous donors
I wonder what could happen if 10,000 upwardly mobile young Nigerians (and yes, I believe we are that many) contributed N5,000 a month to a youth focused political action committee with a very clear mandate to put certain candidates on the spot with respect to issues that concern youth in Nigeria and to support candidates who are young and have a record of championing youth friendly policy. Now, my math isn’t very good but I believe over the next two years before the elections in 2015, we could raise N1.2 billion. More so, there are some of our uncles in corporate Nigeria who aren’t youth but who we could easily solicit to match that. That will be a N2.4 billion. And I know a few kind foreigner friends who would be delighted to find us the balance of N600 million.
What am I getting at here?
I am saying in the next two years, if we seriously work towards it, young Nigerians could build a N3 billion political war chest that could matter in the 2015 elections.
No doubt, N3 billion is far from enough to orchestrate a clean sweep at the polls but it is enough to make sure many politicians will pay enough attention to come to youth organized debates and give us more than platitudes when we ask why millions of Nigerian youth are out of school and work. Besides, we don’t necessarily need to be in every election, or even in obviously hot races awash with more money and influence. We can choose to be strategic and only focus on small legislative races where we can effortlessly win with that kind of financial muscle. If we can elect 20 strong young and youth friendly politicians on a budget of a couple billion naira and passion that will be a big win.
The biggest challenge with a project of this scale of course will be transparency. For all their righteous posturing, a lot of our non-for-profits operate under a shroud of secrecy. This PAC will need to be very democratic and transparent in its dealings. Its trustees would need to recognize they hold the onerous responsibility of more than just managing another hefty campaign slush fund. They will have the honor of faithfully guarding the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of young Nigerians. They will do well to treat the responsibility with the levity it deserves.
At the end of the day, despite all our talk about change and how much it matters, action is all that really counts. So I’m in. If this is something you think you could work with me on, email me at [email protected] and we can have idea sex and birth multiple beautiful babies. J
In closing, it is only appropriate that I end my call to political action with wise words from my personal sage, Jay-Z : “Now who with me, Vamonos!”
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.