By James KANYIP
The crave by the youths to contest elections for political offices has never been so hyped before as it is at present. All thanks to their awakened political consciousness.
In this present political process and dispensation, we have an unprecedented number of youths that are vying for sundry and various elective offices in the forthcoming general elections: Local Governments, States and National.
Each and every contestant has his personal reasons for contesting. However, the idea of having plenty of youths vying for political offices in the forthcoming general elections has its good and bad sides.
The good thing about coming out in large number to contest is that the youths are passing a very strong message that their time has come to be politically relevant and to decide their fate by themselves.
The youths are also passing a mesage that they have the numerical figure and strength to decide the tide of elections in any part of the country; to wrestle power from the old hands; and to entrench a new political order and ideology that are suitable to them.
Despite the above positives, coming out in large number to contest elections also has its negatives.
Too many cooks, they say, spoil the broth. Where the contestants are too many, it signifies some elements of desperation on the part of the youths. It also showcases them as political jobbers. For instance, the youths aspiring for the Zonkwa Constituency of the House of Assembly seat in Kaduna State are about fifteen (15). Other Constituencies may have same or more or slightly less contestants.
In other places, members of the same family have come out to contest for the same political office. For instance, somewhere in Kaura Local Government Area, three (3) blood brothers are vying for the Chairmanship slot in the forthcoming Local Government Councils elections: two (2) in APC and one (1) in PDP.
Where the aspirants are too many, it tends to show that their paramount consideration is not service to the community they desire to represent, but service to their selves. It is not about public service, but personal service. It is not about the public, but about their pockets.
Too many contestants in a political race have the tendency of breeding hatred, acrimony and disunity among the youths. And, these have clearly started manifesting. Today, we see youths fighting and insulting each other in the social and other media because of their personal preferences for their particular candidates.
Politics and political offices will lose their glamour and prestige where every Tom, Dick, and Harry comes out to contest. Separating the wheat from the chaff may be difficult. And, people may not take the youths seriously.
Today, we have bad elements and youths with criminal and wayward behaviours vying for political offices. Some of them want to use political offices as escape routes and cover for their criminal escapades.
The large number does not translate to quality representation. Most of those that are aspiring for political offices do not have what it takes to be in the offices they aspire for. They do not have a good grasp of what the offices entail. They have not developed themselves and therefore do not have the capacity to occupy the offices they aspire for. When they are too many, the wrong ones may be elected.
Agreed that the youths, like all other eligible Nigerians, have the right to vote and be voted for, but that does not prevent them from discussing among themselves with a view to producing consensus candidates or minimising the number of candidates to vie for political offices so that they can easily rally round and garner support for them.
The experience of the Kenyan youths in the recently concluded Kenyan general elections readily comes handy.
John Paul Mwirigi, a 23-year-old Kenyan candidate, campaigned on foot and defeated the ruling party’s candidate. After winning the Igembe South Parliamentary seat, Mwirigi is set to be the country’s youngest Lawmaker. He succeeded because the youths in the community rallied round him.
Simon Muturi, a 24-year-old, campaigned on his bicycle to secure his nomination and then went ahead to win in the general elections as the Representative of his Ward. He was voted into office by the youths of his Ward that constituted over 50% of the registered voters. He thereby defeated all the older, richer and politically more experienced and more connected candidates.
In Nandi County, located in Kenya’s North rift valley, 32-year-old Stephen Kipyego Sang made history after winning the gubernatorial seat in the County. Before now, Sang was also Kenya’s youngest elected Senator. All thanks to the youths in his County.
Lessons must be learnt from the experience of the Kenyan youths.
In the present political dispensation, the Nigerian youths have two (2) choices: to make use of their numerical strength and advantage to make politics merrier for themselves; or to make use of their numerical strength and advantage to make politics messier for themselves. The choice is theirs!
May the best candidates emerge winners.
By James KANYIP