…Says Nothing will change until we start telling ourselves the truth.
THE PLACE OF YOUTH IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA; THE ENUGU EXAMPLE
Coal City Youths Development Initiative.
YOUTH according to the United Nations are persons between the ages of 15 and 24
Youth in Nigeria according to new youth policy includes citizens of Federal Republic of Nigeria aged 18-35
Also, the African Youth Charter recognises youth as people between 18-35
With the various definitions offered above, one can reasonably assert that youthful age terminates at 35 years.
Youth are the most active, vibrant, energetic, adventurous and innovative part of every society.
Nigerian Youth between the ages of 18-35 years as defined in the Nigeria’s National Youth Policy and the African Youth Charter constitutes 70% of her estimated 180 million strong population.
Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations stressed the importance of youth not only as future Leaders but as actors of society today with direct stake in the development process when he said “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy.
Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over time. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cut itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death.
This assertion by Kofi Annan is apt, but how committed are our leaders of today to the inclusion of the youth in the process of nation building?
How prepared are our Nigerian youth to take up the responsibility that nature and society have bestowed on them.
It is in furtherance of this nature given responsibility that National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) was founded in 1964 by well meaning Nigerian Youths to be the voice and the umbrella organization for youth organizations in the country.
The Council is a Non Governmental Organization, Non Partisan and Non Profit Organization.
Unfortunately, the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) of today has been politicised and polarized as results of greed, lack of integrity, corruption, inferiority complex, ethnic chauvinism and lack of patriotism by the new generation youth who now celebrate affluence, bragandage over integrity and excellence.
Today the leadership of National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) is determined by the political elites thereby eroding the non partisan attribute of the organization, making it an appendage of the ruling Political Party.
This trend portends danger for the future of the Nigerian youth who are now at war with each other just to protect the interest of the ruling elites.
The consequences been that the youth can not longer act as one thereby denying them their voice and rightful place in the society.
The youth who constitute 70% of the population as statistics have shown, have been turned to political thugs during election, whereby wrecking havoc to the system through violence and electoral fraud only to be relegated and abandoned after the election resulting to frustrations, high rate of criminality and other related social vices.
THE PLACE OF YOUTHS IN DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
It has been proven that the youth are the most active, energetic and most vibrant members of the society and therefore the drivers of the democratic processes.
The youths serve as Electoral Officers, Political Party Agents, Security Agents, Election Observers and Monitor, therefore they ought to own the process and determine the outcome but unfortunately, the Nigerian Youth have chosen to play the second fiddle in the electoral cum the democratic process in Nigeria despite their huge contribution to the sustenance of system.
The Nigerian Youth since the return of Democracy in 1999 have been selling their birth rights in exchange for bottles of beer and paltry sum in form of salaries as political appointees at the lowest ebbs when they should ordinarily be in charge.
CHALLENGES/PROBLEM OF THE YOUTH
The Youth are sharply divided along party lines, ethnic lines, class lines and religious line making the youth to lose their voice and rightful place in the affairs of the country.
Today you will find many youth Organizations bearing seemingly but slightly different name with almost the same objectives, yet they are at each other’s jugular, castigating and casting aspersions. No unity of purpose and as a result, they are not taken seriously.
- ENVY AND GREED
The youth of these days are so envious of each other and destructivey greedy to the extent that a youth can easily kill to make money to live big and extravagantly. This informed the growing cases of internet fraud, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery. These rising social vices are prompted by envy and greed.
Majority of Nigerian youths have become copycats, imitating others.
Today in Enugu State, many Youth Organizations are springing up with seemingly the same agenda and slight difference in names simply because some vision driven youth Organizations are making impacts, getting accolades and recognition, now everyone sees it as a means of survival.
- CONSPIRACY OF THE ELITES.
The ruling elites are smart in their games, they are the ones behind the division and proliferation of different youth Organizations in Enugu State to maintain their hold on power and continue in their plundering of our collective resources.
The elites knew that the unity of the youth will end their hegemonic reign hence the deliberate balkanization of the youth through sponsorship for the formation of different youth Organizations with all at each other’s jugular.
So sad and unfortunate as it were.
OPPORTUNITIES BEFORE THE YOUTH
As the world celebrate Youth day today, it is a Clarion call for the Nigerian Youth to take advantage of the new law “Not Too Young to Run” to participate actively in our democratic governance.
The essence of the new amendment to the Nigeria Constitution is to enable the youth aspire for the highest position in the land without legal encumbrance.
Prior to the “Not Too Young to Run Act which amended Sections 65(1) 106(b) 131(b) 177(b) of the CFRN 1999 as amended,
The Constitution required that anyone vying for a seat at the National Assembly must attain the age of 35 years for Senate and 30 years for the House of Representatives.
But with the recent amendment, a youth of 25 years can now aspire for the Chairmanship, House of Assembly, while a youth of 30 years can aspire for the House of Representatives, 35 for the Senate and the President Federal Republic of Nigeria respectively.
It is quite disheartening that with the legal definition and prescription of a youth, people above 40 and 50 years of age are still youth leaders of various Political parties with PDP Enugu State Chapter as a good example.
It is now a challenge for the youth to look beyond immediate monetary gains and rise up to the challenge to make their marks and earn their places of honour in Nigeria and Enugu State in particular
Happy World Youth Day.
Hon. Remigius Ejike Ozonwama
Coal City Youth Development Initiative.
Hon. Simon Ede