by Ohimai Godwin Amaize
Interestingly, our idea of social change has been reduced to the politics of merely taking sides every election year… We would rather tweet or write opinion articles attacking ourselves while the political class preys on the very weakness of our divisiveness.
It was Frantz Fanon who said; “Every generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.” Many times, I have been forced to come to the conclusion that I belong to a generation that is still struggling to discover its mission. My greatest fear for us is that our obsession with the mistakes and misdeeds of the generation of our fathers and forefathers may become our very undoing. In the midst of the confusion that usually personifies the body politic, we have been unable to carve a niche for ourselves as a united army of young people who know what they want, how they want it, when they want it and how to demand for it.
When the women-folk felt politically and socially marginalized, those we now refer to as gender advocates spearheaded the battle for the emancipation and recognition of our women in all strata of socio-political life. Today, in many societies of the world, women have attained the status of a distinct social category with a clearly defined agenda. The battle was not won riding on the sentiment of “we are the weaker vessel”. They told us how prepared and competent they are to rule the world and the world had no choice but to listen. Today in Africa, we have female Presidents in Liberia and Malawi. Where are the youth advocates?
Interestingly, our idea of social change has been reduced to the politics of merely taking sides every election year. Yet nobody has told us how a mere change of government amounts to a coherent youth agenda for Nigeria. We would rather attack ourselves publicly if only to appear “politically correct” while the political class preys on our very divisiveness. And there is a big problem; we are a distracted generation and it is not all our fault. We are distracted by poverty, hunger, illiteracy, technology, lack of knowledge, too much knowledge, rigid mindsets and fear of the unknown. So despite our numerical majority, we are in reality, scattered minorities of diverse loyalties; many times loyalty to individuals, often disguised as love for country.
For some of us, our love for Nigeria is not complete until it is validated by association. Many young people would rather “belong” rather than believe in their ability to challenge popular convention even in the face of strong opposition. It gets so messy that even our contemporaries who work in the ruling Federal Government can no longer ‘speak their minds’ on social media without being accused of blasphemy. Their only crime is simply that they longer “belong” to our association of saints and lovers of Nigeria. In our eyes, everybody working in this ruling PDP Government is inspired by the logic of the stomach. Such is the gruesome intolerance of the times.
But I digress.
My advocacy for credible young Nigerians in politics is not anchored on the assumption that there are no young Nigerians outside Government working hard and making a difference in their spheres of influence. But we must in all sense of humility forget the illusion that our individual accomplishments involve everyone or can be seen by everyone. Competent young people need real power to shape and influence public policy. It is true that we all can’t join political parties but is anyone complaining about too many youths in politics?
I have heard some people say young Americans did not have to join political parties to decide the future of America with their votes. Nigeria is not yet America. Our contextual reality is still far different. The quality of credible Americans in politics makes it unnecessary for many more Americans to worry about joining political parties. How many of us even know our Local Government Chairmen? The average American citizen is not so ignorant about the structure of his government and political environment? How many of our Local Government Chairmen have we confronted or invited to public scrutiny on Twitter? For many of us, accountability in leadership begins and ends with the Government in Abuja.
But at the end of the day, what we are dealing with will take more than credible young people just getting into politics. That is just a necessary first step. The next step will be to find our voices within these parties. Some of us must attempt to contest and win elections. All of these would begin to make sense when we intensify advocacy for a collective youth agenda for inclusion and participation in governance. We must be ready to drive this process as one united army irrespective of our political, religious or ethnic leanings. We need to go back into history and continue where the Nkrumahs, Azikiwes, Awolowos, Sardaunas and Enahoros stopped. There is still so much learning to be done, even by those who believe they already know too much.
Ohimai Godwin Amaize is popularly known as Mr. Fix Nigeria, Amaize was born on September 9, 1984. He is an alumnus of the premier University of Ibadan, Nigeria with a post-graduate certificate in “Managing for Integrity”, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. He is a registered member, People’s Democratic Party. He tweets @MrFixNigeria.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.