Mobilising youths for civic duty in 2023

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BY MUJEEB AWONUGA

Uba Group

A poem by Joe Carnahan culled from the movie, ‘The Grey’, which reads, “Once more into the fray; into the last good fight I’ll never know; live and die on this day; Live and die on this day”, loudly echoes the energy and mentality that every Nigerian youth must develop, maintain, and sustain in anticipation of the upcoming 2023 general elections (the seventh of its kind since the beginning of the Fourth Republic).

I must state that the word ‘die’ used in the poem doesn’t convey a literal interpretation in this piece.

This energy must be similar to that exuded by warrior-youths who stared death in the face during the historic and revolutionary 2020 #Endsars protests.

Like the poem suggests, the 2023 general elections are a fight we must never run away from.

But the question remains: How many youths are willing and ready to? The answer appears to be a resounding ‘nobody’ because no one (not even the country’s over 150 million youths) seems to be disturbed as the country continues to plunge headlong into an abysm of doom and nothingness.

Despite the 62 years down the line of public mismanagement, abuse of office, unfulfilled promises, unrealistic manifestos, political monopolization, projects that begin never to end, and the practice of a lopsided democracy where the rich get richer and the powerful hunger for more power while the masses — the very essence of the existence of this nation — continue to wallow in despair and abject poverty, Nigerian youths have a rich history of showing apathy to the electoral sector, showing no interest in what happens to them in that regard.

“But the question remains: How many youths are willing and ready to? The answer appears to be a resounding ‘nobody’ because no one (not even the country’s over 150 million youths) seems to be disturbed as the country continues to plunge headlong into an abysm of doom and nothingness”

They always seem to have an ever-ready unending list of ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’ to justify their undue apolitical stances. However, it is high time the youths began to embrace the idea of a paradigm shift; a recalibration that will amount to change.

In recent times though, it is thrilling and inspiring to see this generation of youths expressly agitating towards 2023 with increased involvement in the electoral process. Recent statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission show that 71 percent of the 12 million newly registered voters are under 35 years and that the 96.2 million registered voters have a youthful majority. These show that indeed, there is a strong desire for change. Therefore, we the youths have no excuse not to be involved in the 2023 general elections. And yes, it is time to change the narrative.

I must, however, put it to you and anyone who cares to listen that being involved in the electoral process come 2023 goes beyond registering to be a voter; it goes beyond being in possession of the much coveted Permanent Voter Cards; it goes beyond airing your thoughts on social media (as in recent times); it goes beyond leaving the comfort of our homes and casting our votes. The strife for 2023 transcends beyond 2023.

It is about pooling resources, strengths, and ideas and putting efforts (big and small) to make 2023 a success by choosing the right leaders. It is about standing firm on the principles of democracy and duly requesting a transparent and accountable government from those leaders. It is about going forward and questioning where we are, how we got here, how we are hurting, and what to do to stop hurting. It is about going against the youthful trend of sycophancy and standing for what is right. It is about aggressively advocating for youth inclusion in governance for indeed, being youthful is more than just the theme of the day, it is the song of the decade and centuries to come.

In light of the foregoing, I implore everyone to be on their guard as we are once again faced with the daunting task of choosing the right leaders who will govern us right. This we must do if we are to birth the Nigeria of our dreams for you, for me, for us, and our generations unborn.

Awonuga writes from Lagos State University, Ojo

CAVEAT: Views and opinions expressed here are those of the writers and are not in any way those of The Point Newspaper – Editor