Emerging trends in Nigeria have shown that young people in Nigeria have finally awoken from their slumber. Rather than the outright docility and apparent lack of interest in the affair of their country, quite interestingly, many youths in Nigeria today are increasingly participating in the process of enthroning leaders and that in itself is a big step. Sadly, their inability to project tact and strategic thinking rather than emotions has become their Achilles heel.
In the build-up to the just concluded national elections in Nigeria, many young people saw themselves, perhaps for the first time involved in the complicated world of politics either as electorates or office seekers, and if reports from the just concluded exercise are anything to go by, it was surely an awesome moment of baptism of fire for them.
Against the wishes of a considerable majority of them, the former Governor of Lagos State and Presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu stole the show and left most of them devastated and knocked out. Many of these youths failed to take cognisance of the fact that the ‘Jagaban’ as many of his followers call him, spent a considerable part of the last 30 years plotting and strategically positioning himself for this.
Before now, many of these young people had often considered the world of politics to be a dirty world that they shouldn’t be found soiling themselves in. There were obvious reasons to conclude that indeed there were institutional barriers put in place to ensure that young people never get an opportunity to climb the ladder of leadership and relevance.
As far as the Nigerian clime is concerned, ‘youths are the leaders of tomorrow’ and many other blanket statements, over the years had become a sermon by the old-generation leaders that can be described as gospel without the truth. Due to the absence of mechanisms to extract needed commitments from them, they found great joy in preaching this without taking pragmatic steps to develop or design strategies that will ensure that it sees the light of day. Over time, it became an epigrammatic tale that only revolved around a particular plot constructed around electioneering periods with the sole aim of achieving electoral victories.
Following a few cases of perceived successes, it ended up becoming more of a slogan for political parties that lasted as long as the electioneering period only to fizzle out as soon as winners are declared. Afterward, youths were never reminded again that they were the leaders of tomorrow until a new election timetable is released by the electoral umpire.
Despite their demographic advantage which was evident in the glamour that graced their much-celebrated #EndSARS protests a few years ago, Nigerian youths have remained on the lowest echelons of decision-making as far as leadership in their country is concerned. Several factors have continued to form clogs in the wheels of their quest to correct that anomaly and rather than hinging their efforts on well-structured interventions anchored on strategic thinking and devoid of emotions, they have continued to make horrible mistakes.
One big lesson that present Nigerian youths must hold very dear is the fact that young people cannot get to the next phase of the political project in Nigeria or achieve their leadership vision without a grinder mindset.
Granted that there is a desperate need for a shift in the leadership structure of the country that has become inevitable to accommodate young technocrats who can take responsibility for their actions and results, be accountable where previous administrations were not and tell the truth about their failures without blame games, however, none of these will ever be possible if young people do begin to proffer strategic solutions to surmount the barriers which are staring them in the face.
One fundamental obstacle that will prevent this from coming to fruition is the subjective view of the electoral process/positions by the youths as a right that must be given, even in the face of obvious inabilities and gross absence of planned programmes and pragmatic strategies to making a positive impact by the youths who seek power. To Nigerians with discerning minds, electoral exercise as practised the world over is both programme and strategy based and a keen contest where the candidates with the best programme and realistic strategies for achieving that programme is favoured by the electorate. The youths at the moment, have neither been programme specific nor strategic.
It is without any iota of doubt that, seeking an elective position with the aim of effecting political and socioeconomic changes is synonymous with fighting for emancipation from captivity, which is never voluntarily given without personal sacrifice, as the beneficiaries of the old order will do everything to thwart the moves. Up until this moment, Nigerians are yet to see such sacrifice, be it ideological or material, from the youths. The situation is even made worse as some of the youths, for pecuniary benefits, work across purpose while others have settled for political crumbs that fall from the table of the masters who are of course the thieving politicians.
A critical look at what the youths currently project and demand will show that it is well-intentioned but pragmatically vague to be taken seriously as their actions and strategies are masked in ambiguity with unclear vision and blurred goals. If young people are determined to change these things, then they must find ways of eliminating these ambiguities.
For Nigerian youths to be taken seriously, therefore, what Nigerians expect is a development of potentials that are politically new, which will establish new political configurations. This is an imperative demand as their political survival should not be left to chance just as anyone that fails to search for his potential leaves his survival to chance. Very instructive also, the argument for a generational change from the head and the placement of our fate in Nigerian youths who have the needed integrity, energy, and the drive to recognise that extraordinary conditions call for extraordinary solutions is indispensable but must be accompanied by a reassurance from the youths.
In a dynamic world dominated by technology, big data, and lately, artificial intelligence which is mostly driven by young people, it is sad and perhaps surprising that young Nigerians have failed to unleash their intellectual prowess on the Nigerian political establishment to change it to their advantage. What the youths need right now is strategic thinking and well-planned moves that will deal fetal blows to forces they are up against. In the just concluded elections, rather than resort to complaints and social media rants when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to transmit results to the IREV portal by breaking their own laws in the process, Nigerian youths will have achieved better outcomes if they took control the server themselves using their hacking skills and ensured that every result was successfully transmitted as soon as voting was concluded.
Going forward, Nigerian youths must understand that if they are ever going to be taken seriously, they must be prepared to make big moves that will shake up the establishment. The place of strategic thinking can never and should never be sacrificed on the alter of emotions and sentiments that are clearly devoid of any iota of logic.
In conclusion, young people must begin the process of reinventing for strategic politicking. They must understand that it is not enough to be young because if one is young and empty-headed, it won’t count for much. They must equip themselves with the right information, knowledge, and experience and relocate to the drawing board. Rather than spewing so much noise into the cyberspace, they should rather expend those energies on strategy sessions if they want to be ever taken seriously and invited to the table of influence and prominence. The time to unlock that goldmine is now!