Opinion: #NotTooYoungToRun | Political relevance for Nigerian youth

by Jude Feranmi

What would you do if you had all the political capital you needed in a political party?

This question is meant for young Nigerians. Now, take a minute to think about it. Going forward, I would be assuming you have a mental list of all those things you would do if you had that political capital.

Whatever is on your list, if you are a Nigerian, there are chances that you currently can’t do them right now because you don’t have that political relevance. While some have more political relevance than some others, the situation is the same across board. Young People do NOT Have what it takes to seat at the decision table. Simple!

The #NotTooYoungToRun campaign took a global turn last week Tuesday and in what seems to be the highest validation of the campaign so far, it was launched as a global campaign, not just for Nigeria and African countries but for the whole world.

At this juncture, we now need to start asking ourselves some real questions. If we assume that this bill is going to pass at the National Assembly, scale the state assemblies and get Mr President’s Assent, does it look like young, competent Nigerians will be able to amass the political capital needed to run for office?

At an event hosted at the National Assembly by Hon Raphael Igbokwe, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly had sarcastically boasted that young people were already in the parliament referencing the likes of Dapo Lam Adesina and some others who he labelled “sons of eminent personalities in Nigeria”.

Are we not fast-tracking the hand over of this country by a generation that sat down to ruin it to their sons and cronies’ sons to finish up the remnants?

This is not to disparage anybody or any young Nigerian currently involved in politics but these are concerns that some young people have which currently informs their decisions to withdraw support for the campaign or even campaign against it.

Without political relevance, there is no hope for a generation of young people who will damn the political consequences and attempt radical reform.

Our generation, irrespective of our political leanings or partisan subscriptions MUST now begin to acquire political relevance in the platforms we have chosen.

There is a Yoruba adage that says “ O o si ni be, o wa n bere bawo ni won se pin” which translates to “You were not there, and now you’re asking how it was shared”.

One thing that is important to know is that, first and foremost without political relevance within the political parties, there is no political power. The subset of political power needed to make things happen in our national life is the political power that is needed within one’s party.

The National Youth Caucus of most political parties are either broadly unorganised or close to non-existent. In a political party where most of the membership of that party are youths, the youth caucus should be the most vibrant caucus of that party and hence the most powerful caucus with the biggest bargaining chip when it comes to decision making.

If we do not have influence over the young Nigerians in our local government, how do we think we can influence the general election?

There is the tendency that we now start to think of the current status quo of political parties going forward. But this would be misplaced as about 80% of Nigerians who even think they engage politically are not card carrying members of a political party.

98 million Nigerians who are internet subscribers for example do not even feature in the electoral map and except I am just being overtly optimistic, If you can use the internet, you sure have the ability to vote reasonably.

As young Nigerians interested in leading our country and deliver the promise of this great country, we need to realise that the hard work of organizing our demography must be done, first for political relevance and ultimately political power.

As I have made clear earlier in this series, the strategy for acquiring power is not a function of the motive for acquiring power.

There’s a lot of work to be done and we’re just getting started.

P.S There was a promise to talk about political realities in political parties in my last post. I’m still working on that.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Jude ‘Feranmi is the National Youth Leader, KOWA party

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