HOW YOUTHS COULD PATRIOTICALLY TAKE OVER POLITICAL GOVERNANCE
Last week, I viewed Fela Durotoye, a motivational speaker canvass very cogent points in a most thoughtful, brilliant and inspiring discourse. The patriotic zeal was palpable as he attempted to differentiate leaders from rulers. I watched with interest, how Durotoye spoke the minds of his peers on the question of leadership, as well as his thoughts for renewed hopes and aspirations. No one would contest the fact that Nigeria has brains that could easily match those of leaders and rulers of the developed world. It is a good idea for more patriotic involvement of youths in governance. But it would seem you cannot push out old politicians unless you get firmly rooted at the grassroots. Nigerians must be carried along as true partners in national development by political actors at all levels, in realization of the need for the introduction of workable measures. Youths must start endearing themselves to their communities by mapping and selling coherent and purposeful policies geared towards development. Those who view the world through specialized prisms have at different times spoken about underdevelopment arising from incoherent implementation of policies as the misery of the country. For instance, Chief Emeka Anyaoku once asserted that one of the most serious problems confronting Africa and African Diaspora is the poor culture of governance; and that we still need to learn the lessons of putting forward our best people to run for governance and help lift the country upwards. On his part, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari has observed that if we accept that conflicts and wars retard development, in no continent is this more true than in Africa, and this is why our continent is behind the rest of the world. He argued that people are not going to invest in countries of conflict; and without investment, both domestic and foreign. Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan was in Nigeria not too long ago and pointed out that our country holds the key to the development of Africa. Prof. BolajiAkinyemi too has pointed this fact out very patriotically, that Nigeria must not fail Africa, and indeed the global community, because the consequences could be very weighty.
The strategic position and influence of Nigeria in Africa, over the decades place great demands, burden and strains on the country as a model for several other African nations. It is endowed with enormous resources, human and material, that could launch the nation to greatness. Nigeria is widely regarded as the engine of the economy of West-Africa, a motivator of the African Union, and the catalyst of African renaissance. Such is the importance of Nigeria in global politics that it is believed that whatever happens in Nigeria has the possibility of reverberating to other nations in the continent. Nigeria is abundantly endowed with human and material resources that could sustain a broad-based growth and development. Does it ever occur to us that outsiders will not be able to solve Nigeria’s problems for Nigeria and that Nigerians themselves will solve the nation’s problems better than any foreigner? Therefore, it is better to resolve to be part of the vanguard determined to move Nigeria forward by participating in the electoral process. Preparation is very important and central to the success of rulers. Youths would be under a false illusion that power would be handed over to them without any contest. And barring the older generation on the excuse of recycling is undemocratic if they are still wanted by the electorate. Over the years, policy experts have identified some of the factors capable of moving Nigeria forward as: ‘’consistency in policy formulation and implementation, transparency, accountability, the enthronement of due process, rule of law, and fiscal discipline. This is the major panacea to the problems confronting Nigeria. Anybody, particularly, the younger ones who seriously wants Nigeria to participate in political governance for the purpose of building Nigeria develop would note and do the following:
- Be conscientious and patriotic through your behaviour by being socially responsible. Social responsibility would drive development and nation building
- Use your votes/ballot box to choose the candidates of your choice in government. Your vote is your power and you must resolve to make sure that your vote counts
- Resolve never to be bought over by money politics that would only make you sell your present and future to anybody who purchases your soul
- Be firmly entrenched with your constituency and sell your plans and programmes
- Resolve to take your representatives in Government to task by asking questions and developing great interest in how your affairs are being managed.
- Commence an advocacy campaign immediately on channels of mass communication to enlighten prospective voters about your packages
- Resolve to be part of the process of development
Citizens at home and abroad could contribute directly and indirectly to economic and political governance. In the first instance, you could influence development through participation in the democratic process. You are a key component of governance and should necessarily demand from political leaders, accountability, transparency and good governance, as key ingredients in the common desire to move Nigeria forward. Civil Society Organizations have, over the decades performed creditably in mobilizing people for political activities. But they could still do more by way of sensitizing the electorate to elect the best materials in their areas, whom they could hold accountable. They must perform their roles as advocates of positive political development, in the bureaucratic systems of the nation. In the course of the performance of my professional duties in 1982, I visited the Bashorun residence of the then National Chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, late Chief A.M.A Akinloye, in company with some colleagues, where we were ushered in by a popular boisterous civil rights activist and senior legal practitioner, (now deceased) We asked him: ‘’Egbon, why are you here? He responded with an anecdote: ‘’When you are behind the fence and people are inside, the best way to ensure that you are not ignored and allowed to come in is to keep on shouting and knocking.’’ That means that the young ones who wish to edge out current political blocs, or advocate for proper conducts must be serious about their intentions. Cynics and critics must come out for practical action by joining politics and start influencing their people now. In joining the race, it is to be noted that politics is not about violence, maiming and killings; but about service to the people through patriotism, sincerity of purpose, logical reasoning, dialogue, debate, and respect for superior argument.
ROBUST DEBATES & SENSITIZATION OF THE CITIZENRY
Why has Africa not succeeded hugely in the onerous task of entrenching an enduring democratic culture? In the opinion of a top politician and political scientist, Prof. Tunde Adeniran: ‘’Nowadays, people believe that before you can win an election, you must be able to bribe people all over the place or you must be able to get people who will help you to manipulate the process, which is unfortunate. And when it comes to issues of trust, public trust, you have people in charge of public affairs and they believe that they have to treat or handle those affairs as if they are personal property. That is not good for the system. It is not good for our country. ”You cannot have a good society where there is no justice. And justice which is the first condition of humanity, must be based on the fact that everybody is given an enabling environment within which to actualize his or her potential. But where greed takes over, you will be pursuing your own selfish ends. And of course, you cannot do that successfully unless you trample on the interest of others. There is no way in which you can build a society where you find some individuals being richer than state. And it is not that they actually worked for it. Most of those who are in that category used government machinery, government instrument, mechanisms within the governmental system to attain that level. And the sad thing, we do not have those people as entrepreneurs that are so committed to creating wealth that will employ labour, and that will add value to the society.’’ Adeniran describes such people as parasites.
DEMOCRATIZATION OF ELECTIONS
Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations proclaims that “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country” and “Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country”. It adds: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; and this will, shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”. In many nations, however, the conduct of successive elections has provoked agitations for electoral reforms. Perhaps no issue has been touchier than that of the electoral process, which many participants have condemned on account of the allegations of brazen disregard for the basic rules and transparency. Accordingly, political transition programmes have been hotly contested in Africa as a result of disagreements over the handling of elections. The Nigerian Guardian newspaper’s editorial of June 12, 2014, contends that ”elections have been used in many African countries to disguise authoritarianism and camouflage impunity.’ Accordingly, Africa’s leaders must device the means of bringing some semblance to the rather chaotic system of implementation public policies. A radically new approach is needed to weave political policies into a comprehensive and cohesive framework that would produce a branded continent that would be free from overdependence on the Western world.’’
From the above point of view, what appears to be the first important consideration is getting our priorities right and acting dispassionately in the overall interest of the masses. It would profit the polity if opinion leaders engage in robust debates that are issue-based, and also get involved in logical discussions and sensitization of the masses as a matter of duty. Let discourse and actions be provoked by national and public interests. It is important to speak, write, and react within the limits of decency. Don’t abuse or curse your opponents. If you truly desire improvements, join a group today and start canvassing for development and all those matters that could move the nation forward. Determine that your vote must count. Additionally, support the National Independent Electoral Commission and its counterparts at the States level to hold elections devoid of malpractices. You could influence people in your environment to think logically about these issues and events. Teach the educated and uneducated people about democratic conducts and their importance to development. Encourage them to spread the news that it is important to elect their preferences on conviction.