v style="\"font-family:garamond,serif;">A retrospective look at the response of Nigerians in the last general elections shows how far our political consciousness has developed as a nation. A SWOT analysis of the past administration’s activities reveals that the All Progressives Congress, APC, capitalised on the weaknesses of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to sell to Nigerians the ‘change mantra’ that brought them to power.
As the collective consciousness of ‘change’ pervaded the nooks and crannies of our socio-political space, the Goodluck Jonathan-led government suddenly awakened from its leadership slumber to try to consolidate in six weeks a collective goodwill it enjoyed for six years. Alas, it was a little too late! However, going by the current economic pulse of the nation, one might be tempted to think that the ‘change mantra’ is a political charade driven by the APC to gain political power rather than a paradigm shift in the processes and politics of governance to produce a better livelihood for the citizenry.
From a youth perspective, our teeming population campaigned vigorously on social media and voted massively for Muhammadu Buhari, the APC and the ‘change project’. Through the youths, the gospel of ‘change’ surged through the social media platforms like a tidal wave of cataclysmic proportions, displacing the ruling party and delivering in the end its destined and designated objective, ‘change’ – a change in the government’s policies, procedures and priorities. The youths believed in Mr. President’s candidature because he is seen as a different breed from the class of unscrupulous and unconscionable politicians that have graced our political skylines with their self-serving politics of stomach infrastructure.
We anticipated that a Buhari-led government will not just fight corruption and corrupt public office holders but will also integrate the youth into the mainstream of our social system through policy intervention initiatives. To our chagrin however, Mr. President and the APC-led cabinet have reneged on their campaign promises as it relates to the economic empowerment of the youth and the less-privileged of the society. The truth is, to renege on electioneering campaign promises in the light of current political consciousness will not just dent Buhari’s moral perpendicularity but will also amount to an act of political suicide by the APC-led government.
‘Aka nri kwuo aka ekpe, aka ekpe akwuo aka nri’. It simply means ‘when the right hand washes the left hand, the left hand in turn washes the right hand.’ Implicitly, if the teeming population of un-empowered youths voted massively for President Buhari, the APC and the ‘change project’, will it then be seen as asking for too much if this administration drafts policies that targets on delivering an improved socio-economic wellbeing for the youths? Will it then be seen as asking for too much if the N500billion social security intervention fund in the 2016 budget is divided into two with half of it designated as capital intervention fund for youth empowerment and development initiative?
The recent narrative of scrapping the idea of economic empowerment for the youth and less-privileged because of the absence of a reliable database of target groups is an unpatriotic and undemocratic attempt to surreptitiously divert the intervention fund. Do you really need an existing database to identify a Nigerian that lives on less than one dollar a day? Do you really need an existing database to identify a Nigerian that lacks capital to float a viable business that will serve the interest of the society? The answer is an emphatic no. What we need to effectively disburse the social intervention fund captured in the 2016 budget to boost economic activities across the nation is a strong political will backed by a biometric process of identification and registration of intending beneficiaries.
For how long will the youths keep roaming the streets without a feasible source of income despite the fact that majority of them have a marketable skill-set but lack capital to set up a business platform? For how long in this country will the government keep preaching the gospel of job creation when they can easily make deployment funds available to empower the youths in their millions who have consciously and conscientiously developed their crafts?
The above premise therefore is the essence of the theory of political reciprocity. It is sheer wisdom for the present administration to engage in social intervention initiatives for youth economic empowerment as a way of reciprocating the kind gesture they received in the course of the elections. The echoed sentiment of the youths nationwide is that of creating opportunities for service and platforms for showcase. It is good to label the youth leaders of tomorrow but it is much better when they are laden with opportunities for a better livelihood in the present because the future is simply an eternal present. It is an established fact that once you hold political office in Nigeria either at the local, state or federal level, its capacity to alter your economic status for good is automatic; whether by looting, by huge remuneration packages, or both.
The reality however is that we all cannot simultaneously hold political offices but we all can simultaneously contribute towards societal development in the different spheres of our calling when we have a functional social support system. A society’s wellbeing depends on ensuring that all its members feel they have a stake in it and do not feel excluded from its mainstream.
Statecraft and the process of governance in the light of emerging global trends transcend the borders of personal ideologies and political dogmatism; it embraces with open hands the principles of economic pragmatism, policy mechanisms reflecting the people’s aspirations, respect for the preponderance of the law, independent judicial and legal systems, sustainable human resource development vis-à-vis infrastructural development, highly effective and efficient infrastructural frameworks and transparent bureaucratic systems and structures for personal accountability amongst others.
If the thinking of political leadership is not in sync with the current realities of contemporary political cum economic interchanges then the entire system will be headed for a sudden collapse. President Buhari cannot afford to fail considering the sole focus of his administration on the fight against corruption. Should Buhari fail, Nigeria is doomed!
On surface reality, the president means well for Nigeria judging by his mastodonic passion of twelve years standing to become a democratically elected President. But digging into the memory lane of historical moments, one quickly realises that delivering the dividends of sustainable socio-economic development in Nigeria’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-divergent interest groups certainly requires more than a mastodonic passion to rule. To achieve the good governance milestone that underpins the ‘change mantra’ of the ruling party, Mr. President must guard against the undertakers of our democracy, the devourers of our collective patrimony, the architects of our unending democratic retrogression.
However, for the Nigerian youths whose interest I seek to project, I dare to ask for how long are we going to bask in the whirlpool of hope while our waking moment is filled with hopelessness? For how long are we going to stand aloof and watch while our future is mortgaged on the platform of political looting and economic subterfuge? It is high time we leveraged on the power of social media and our numerical advantage to mould ourselves into one monolithic voice to establish our political destiny. Enough is enough. I therefore call for a national conference on youth comprising of all youth groups in Nigeria and the Diaspora alike to brainstorm on how to form and finance a progressive youth alliance that will pose a credible challenge for our space within the political landscape. Our time to act is now!
Ofodum, Lead Resource Person, ‘Passion & Living Resources Int’l’; lives in Abuja <a data-cke-saved-href="\" href="\"mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org\"" style="\"color:" rgb(17,="" 85,="" 204);\"="" target="\"_blank\"">email@example.com