THE ROLE OF NORTHERN YOUTH lN NIGERIAN POLITICS: BEING A PAPER PRESENTED BY ENGR. SALEH ALHASSAN KUBAH FIMC AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS OF THE 3RDASSEMBLY OF THE NORTHERN YOUTH ASSEMBLY OF NIGERIA (NYAN) HELD ON THE 25TH OF NOVEMBER 2021 AT AFRI-HOTEL
There is a common saying, even if absolutely true, aphorism that claims the youths as “leaders of tomorrow”. This saying is not suppose to generate any debate in the contemplation of reality as dictated by the natural laws of succession, in which one generation plays out it role and yield the stage for another, as a general principle of advancing in the course of human experience. However, in Nigeria the reverse is the case as recycling of oldleaders is the norm rather than the exception.
The picture is pathetic for the Northern youths as they are faced with greater and unique challenges more than ever before. They are not only confronted with biological and psychological growth but they are grappling with challenges formidable external pressure such as poverty, diseases and violence. The northern youths havemuch at stake, yet they have little saying in the policies and activities that pertains to their lives. They have been reduced to objects of political manipulations as political leaders use emotional appeals placed within the prisms of religious and ethnic sentiments to mobilize the youth becausethey are more susceptible to ideological messages.
1.1 POLITICS AND DEMOCRACY
Generally speaking, politics is concerned with the aggregation of the inter-relationship of man, his environment and the management of any conflict arising from such association. Specifically speaking however, there is variation in definitional perception of the word ‘politics’ which is determined by the area of the subject matter in which an individual is interested. This may be the area of governmental activity or non-governmental activity. It is however noticed that more often than not, people tend to ascribe politics to governmental actions or inactions, and any struggle towards attaining the control of governmental power at any level within the context of the topic before me.
This is why Dr Ajodo-Adebanjoko, an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Federal University Lafia, argued that despite growing evidence of youth activism and �mobilization, Nigerian youths have yet to achieve the level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics. Leadership deficits, money politics, poor internal democracy among the older parties and an absence of a strategic political agenda pose ongoing barriers to young people playing politics in Nigeriaparticularly northern youths.
In Nigeria, the activities of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, H.O. Davies, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello and Samuel Akintola among many others in their 20s and 30s are legendary. Some of these youths are reputed for the formation of political parties such as the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM), which was the first political party in Nigeria, the Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP), and the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). These young Nigerians each used the media to speak against the evils of colonialism and demanded independence. Nnamdi Azikiwe, for instance, was reputed for the use of his newspaper, the West African Pilot.
And despite the track record of older generation youths, Nigerian politics is fast becoming the exclusive preserve of the older politicians, as seen from the constant recycling of government officials, especially those in their 60s. For many years, particularly after the country’s return to democratic governance in 1999, youths were at best seen as supporters, mobilisers or political foot soldiers hired to instigate violence, manipulate elections and intimidate opposing parties especially OUR Northern Youth. While this image is not completely the fault of the older generation, these groups enjoyed the idea of youths as political mercenaries rather than competitors, even after signing into law of the Not Too Young To Run Bill in 2019, led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Many northern youth and by extension Nigeria’s young people are a creative force, a dynamic source of innovations, and they have undoubtedly, throughout history, participated, contributed, and even catalyzed important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics and economic opportunities.
This is why Harold Lasswell sees politics as “Who gets What, When, and How?” By this definition, Lasswell conceives of politics from the perspective of incumbent power wielders within or outside of government and their means of power acquisition and within what time frame. The point here is therefore, youths in Northern Nigeria have been involved in determining who gets what, when and how in their region.
It is however regrettable that the political class in Northern Nigeria have bastardized and corruptly mishandled the democratic politics of the region in the push to gain political relevance which in effect criminalized the mindset of the youth since the inception of the Fourth Republic in May 1999. The pointers of these youths’ criminalities are seen in activities such as Boko Haram, kidnapping, armed robbery, armed banditry, cattle-rustling, political thuggery and gangsterism among others.
These are the current challenges confronting entire northern Nigeria because of the neglect, abandonment, and misgovernance, particularly of the rural areas. There is no doubt that the challenges confronting the region have affected the northern youths’ political misfortunes which caused the northern region to be in a serious security dilemma. The youth have been in a deplorable condition and had become ready-made instruments of the politicians to commit electoral crimes. Thus, they have become vulnerable to any anti-social conduct that can easily get them to quick and fast monetary advantages or religious extremism.
The menace is responsible for poor political culture as it results to death or poses deadly threats by deterring individuals from actively partaking into political processes and routine socio-economic activities at their homes, shops and on the streets within the northern region. Accordingly, Elites and politicians recruit unemployed youths into thuggery for their self-aggrandisement during political processes like campaigns and elections to serve as thugs, to snatch ballot papers and ballot boxes. The Northern Elite, most especially political class who hold political power used various means in order to remain in power without considering the state of socio-political harmony of their respective societies and the sustainability of democracy. This class of people recruits and sponsors some youth that pays allegiance to them and consequently they benefit from the services rendered to them by these thugs.
For our youth to play that desired role in ensuring clean politics and emergence of young persons into the political arena, it is my firm belief that their condition must be improved to deal with emerging social threats such as thuggery. This can be done by investing adequately in education, social services, infrastructural facilities and instantaneous provision of employment opportunities. The Northern elites must provide these opportunities for our youth to engage in real governance and participate in political and decision-making processes.
1.2 WHO ARE THE YOUTH?
It is important to contextualize our discourse by defining who a youth is.
The concept of youth is defined within the framework of different sociological perspectives, which could also depend on cultural contexts. For Economic community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), youth are those within the ages of 15 and 35, as recognized by African Youth Charter; while the United Nations considers the youth as people in the ages bracket of 15 to 24. Although United Nation equally gives allowance for national context to guide the definition of those within this category. In Nigeria, the National Youth Policy of 2009 defines the youth as those between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Youth researchers has therefore, come to define youth as personal experience especially in terms of individual’s level of dependency which can be marked in various ways according to different cultural perspective. Youth level of dependency refers to extent to which they still rely on their family emotionally and economically.
According to Dr. Sadiq, youth connotes age, but age can be a biological terminology or sociological category. As a young man through social mobilization can occupy the apex of the socio-political pyramid. In Nigeria the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2012 National Baseline Youth Survey puts the youth population in Nigeria (from 15 to 35 years) at 64 million, Scholars have consistently argued that age – based definitions have not been consistent across cultures or times, and that thus, it is more accurate to focus on social processes in the transition to adult independence for defining youth.
Youth is therefore the stage of constructing the self-concept. The self-concept of youth is influenced by several factors such as peers, lifestyles, gender and culture. It is the time of a person’s life in which he makes crucial choices which will affect his future. What matters, therefore is not the age but the quality of a youth and meeting its attendant features as an individual.
1.3REALITIES FACING THE AVERAGE NORTHERN YOUTH TODAY
In our today’s north the youths live in fears, speak in fear, walk in fear and sleep in fear. Our brothers and sisters go to school in fear, our women go to market in fears, our brothers go to farm in fear, our herders goes to the fields in fear, our parent goes to work in fear. Fear of bombs from terrorist, fear bombs from aerial bombardment from our Air forcetargeting bandits, fear of kidnappers and bandits, fear of assassins, fear of being caught-up in clashes between people of different faith have become unfortunately, part of our daily lives. It was not so before. This is not the north that our founding fathers bequeathed to us. What went wrong? Who is to be blame?
In the past we are our brother’s keepers, we live in peace and brotherly love.
So, the big question is what role can any group of people under these prevailing conditions play I n the politics of their nation, communities or villagesno matter the characteristics of their demography ?
My brothers, sisters and comrades in the Northern Youth Assembly of Nigeria (NYAN) any feasible role we intend to play in the politics of our nation must not out of self-preservation, but be gear towards restoring these cherish values of love, peace and unity.
Our participation in politics therefore must not just be reduced to seeking for political offices, appointments or supporting politician of our choicesto assess power but we must do everything possible to stop this rising violence and gradual decent into anarchy in the north. We must cooperatively work hard to stop or eliminate illiteracy, poverty, rural urban drift, crimes and criminality. We must work hard to promote media integrity and accurate reportage, we must reposition ourselves to prevent manipulations of religion and support individual or groups to imbibe religion tolerance, we must fight drug addiction and support credible leadership culture, we must preach and practice love above all.
1.4WHAT WE NEED TO DO
Our major task in politics in the North as youths are to consistently call on all elected Governors, Legislatures and political appointees to ensure that accrue and allocated resources are properly channel towards education, healthcare, agriculture, solid minerals development and infrastructural and the endemic corrupt culture of self-enrichment, of dispensing patronage to local political cronies and immoral appeasement of religious clerics and local Chiefs with State resources to the detriment of the improvised poor must stop.
In conclusion, as youths, your participation in politics goes beyond supporting an aspirant, voting and making political contributions online. Get involve, join political party, aspire for office in your political party, join the policy making and decision taking cycle and above all don’t allow any selfish politician use you as agent of political violence. Youth participation is right not a privilege.
Thank you for good listening.
Engr.Saleh Alhassan Kubah FIMC, CMC, CESM, IoTA
National Secretary General
Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore Socio-Cultural Association
Youth, Politics and the Future of Nigeria, By Ololade Bamidele https://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/441775-youth-politics-and-the-future-of-nigeria-by-ololade-bamidele.html
UNDP’s Publication on Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle –
A good practice guide:
|UNDP4YOUTH Teamworks Space:|