Low Nigerian youth participation in politics

In a decent community of right thinking humans, any argument against the distinctiveness and divinity in the position and responsivities of young people in nation building could be termed ‘insanity’ for upon them lies obviously, the strength, the energy and the innovation necessary for building a tomorrow that will work for us all. 

A report by Statista.com  ranks Nigeria in the 18th position of countries with the most youthful population. The report which further explained that half of the population of the giant of Africa is aged under 19 years, is yet another strong affirmation that the country is indeed endowed with youthful and useful human resources that can be harnessed for a progressive transformation in every functioning unit of the Nigerian system. 

Common knowledge also holds strongly that the Nigerian youths are by their nature, trailblazers, and pathfinders in their respective endeavours in and outside the country and this is evidently demonstrated in their technological innovations, scientific innovations, entrepreneurial leadership and social innovations. 

What seems to be very unclear with “the Nigerian spirit of the youths” up till today is their invisibilities in the Nigerian political ecosystem. Today, there are still very fewer than expected youths in active political participation. The reasons for our hesitations are sometimes unclear too, at least to me. 

It may be quite off-putting but it is arguably part of our reality that the very young people who are not only stakeholders but should be at the center of political reform in Nigeria are usually not in sight on the tables of political subjects. While a good percentage of them distaste it, others perceive it as an exclusively reserved right of the rich and many of us including the highly educated are in a way, unaware and undoing about things that have connections with politics. 

As young people, it is now pressing on us more than ever before, to by our own selves, begin to engineer a shift in our pattern of perception, our mindsets and our willingness to take control of our most needed roles in the Nigerian political system. More Nigerian youths and women must begin to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the recent development like the passing of the “Not too young to run bill”, the Freedom of Information Act as well as the possibilities presented by the proliferation of technological innovations to explore and lead a youthful reform.

The struggles and agitations surrounding the passing of the “Not too young to run” bill and other related bills into law is just a foundation and a single phase of a complex inclusive agenda to bring youth and women into productive and purposeful political participation. The other phase, and the most important as a matter of fact, lies in the willingness of the youth to explore the possibilities granted them by the bills not only by ways of contesting for political offices but also by deliberately altering our statuses from mere political instruments into active political agents who can act constructively and responsibly to shape the political narratives of our country and by extension, shape our destinies and fates.
This humble call is my way of participation and my advocacy is that young people can begin to act in different strengths; From the complex task of developing ideology and mobilizing other young people to align with your vision and pursuing the same responsibly to a less complex act of subscribing to an existing ideology and pursuing it actively with the founding fathers. 

as young people we must create spaces  and duties for ourselves in our porous political ecosystem. We must become actively involved in shaping our common destinies either by ways of demanding accountability of governance, transparency of processes, and credibility of policies or by active participation in political parties, voting, petition writing, peaceful demonstration, and political education – do something anyway. 

Sule Matthew,Fellow – Gidan Yanci Felowship, Ambassador, World Literacy Foundation, Second place winner, Act Foundation Leadership Challenge 2021.

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