The recent #EndSARS protest, regardless of the unfortunate hijack, has demonstrated the capacity of the youth to find our voice, mobilize, organize, coordinate and effectively engage. This new found power has agitated the ruling elites who are now conscious that it is time for the long overdue generational hand shake.
Indeed, nothing can stop an idea which time has come.
Our leaders have always known that they are nothing without us the youth. Not only because of our numerical strength. We are without doubt the ones that rig, strategize, fight (off and on-line), massage their egos and deploy our innate abilities to elevate them into position of power.
Now that a sizable critical mass among the youth have become more politically conscious about the potency of #YouthPower, things are really about to change. It seems the youth will no longer settle for less. Yeah, 2023 will be a new ball game, with the youth taking the front seat.
Anything for us, without us, cannot be for us – seems to be the motivation behind the new found #YouthConsensus. Our destiny is now in our hands, and how we use it is what will make the difference. Gone are the days when our voices were not heard; even when heard, they were not respected.
However, we the youth must realize that peaceful protest is only the first step, which is to capture the attention of the ruling elites. It is now time to take it a step further, by demanding for safe spaces for us to participate in decisions that affect our present and future.
We must demand that development plans, policies, budgets and service delivery by the government do reflect our collective aspirations and prioritized needs. No doubt, we have the Social Media handy, which has provided us with a powerful tool for direct participation and effective demand for accountability from those we elected.
Enough is enough should be the binding slogan, by resisting being used or hired only as machinery for winning elections; and afterwards, abandoned till another election cycle. As we have now realized, governance is the big deal; because that is where decisions on how to source and where to spend our collective wealth are made.
We must go beyond protest, by channeling the same human resources and ingenuity we deployed into engaging and demanding accountability from our leaders. Voting leaders into office is the easy part, in comparison to getting them to deliver on their mandates (campaign promises).
We should no longer allow ourselves to be divided by the bias of ethno-religious sentiments or enticement of monetary gains; but by the unifying factors that will address inequality, injustice and insecurity in our society. Our goal should be a society built on human capital development, and social inclusion, protection and justice.
In doing so, we must pick INTEREST in governance, get INFORMED (plans, policies, budgets, service delivery), INVOLVE like-minds, be INNOVATIVE, take INITIATIVE and INSIST until our demands are met.
It is time to go beyond giving few among us appointments, but taken further into mainstreaming youth participation at all levels of decision-making in government. Section 14 (2c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states, “the participation by the people in their government is ensured in accordance with the provision of this constitution”.
May God help the Nigerian Youth.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje
Head – Leadership, Governance & Advocacy