…… attracted attention with “Not Too Young To Run” bill

By; Emeka Ral

The issue of youth inclusion in the politics and administration of Nigeria has in recent times attracted popular attention. With the passage of the “Not Too Young To Run” bill sponsored by YIAGA Foundation into law and the assent it subsequently received from Mr. President, it appeared as though “uhuru” had come for Nigerian youths who yearn for unhindered political expression, with a view to righting the wrongs of the past. In the buildup to the last general election, national leaders like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (Ebora Owu) promoted the “Third Force” concept, challenging Nigerian youths to take back the country. From Alhaji Atiku Abubarka to Mr. Peter Obi, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Prof. Kingsley Muoghalu, this clarion call reverberated.  

…Active youth participation 

Like most politically inclined Nigerian youths, I support in principle, the idea of active youth participation in the leadership of this country. However, I do not subscribe to the misconception that our prevailing national calamities stem from the age of the dominant actors in our government. The largest and most active youth group in Nigeria is the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), and I make bold to say that this association is about the most regressive and reactionary youth institution since the dawn of this century.

I was privileged to participate in a number of the youth groups which sprang up before the last general election, and I can tell you for free that most of these platforms were floated for pecuniary objectives. Most youth leaders are more interested in appearing on screen, which is seen as having the potential of lifting them to national importance and fame. This explains why as soon as the elections were over, they automatically went under. Indeed, most of the “oshebe Oshebe” and “we no go gree” of youth groups are nothing but “hocus-pocus”.


……Genuine youth groups exist on the fringes

This is not to say that there are no genuine youth groups. There may be, but they only exist on the fringes. Most of what you see is calculated abracadabra aimed at attracting political relevance for selfish reasons. Same misfortune ravages the struggle for women participation in politics, as the few who eventually find their ways into the corridors of power tend to place more priority on their personal aspirations than collective good. In their journeys to becoming, it is “aluta continua”, but when once they are elected or appointed into political office, it is “aluta stoppe”, victory having been achieved.

Of course, Nigeria is plagued by a plenitude of challenges – economic, social, political, etc., and poor leadership is largely responsible for this parlous state of affairs. To aver, however that the age of our leaders is the major reason for their poor performance is to miss the point. Indeed, this practice of gerontocracy has been further ascentuated by the current administration, whose performance is anything but appreciable. Be that as it may, this still does not justify the rather sweeping conclusion. Not with the unsavoury leadership of NANS across board over the years; not with the rascality associated with the different factions of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN); definitely not with the open display of intellectual void by most Nigerian youths on social media.

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No doubt, there is a growing global inclination towards active youth involvement in the politics of states. In countries like France, Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, and elsewhere, leaders in their thirties have been elected to run the affairs of their states, and more often than not, they have discharged their responsibilities with due sense of commitment without let or hinderance. But his age (72) notwithstanding, and despite the many stones and pebbles before him and the many huddles he has to deal with, the achievements of President Trump of the United States cannot be disavowed. 

That age is has a place in the activeness or otherwise of every human cannot be overstated. That it is not a major factor for our national misfortune cannot be substantiated, as our current generation of youth isn’t any better. Rather than the age of our leaders, the age of our ideas is responsible for our inability to attain the lofty heights we desire. The prevailing value in Nigeria is such that promotes the individual against the collective. It is a dog-eat-dog mindset; hence every man strives to promote his cause, without consideration for the rights and existence of others.

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 …….Nigerian environment seems to have annihilated sense of value

Unlike what obtains elsewhere, the predatory Nigerian environment has successfully annihilated every sense of value we once had. Sadly enough, successive governments just like the current administration have continued to deepen this trend. This is the concept that we must tackle, if government must function for all. Many who promote youth political empowerment, like most who scream of ethnic marginalization do understand that they are not our major issues. 

………Many agitators of youth inclusiveness presently use that to wriggle to power for selfish interest 

However, they prop themselves up under such slogans, only to wriggle their ways to power where they feather their own nest. When next they come to you with the cliché – youth marginalization and youth inclusion in politics – my brother, flee. These are self serving activists. We need a holistic value reorientation which must cut across board. 

Just as there are good men cutting across age brackets with the right idea to move this country forward, so also are there vacuous brains, though sometimes I am compelled to believe that the latter could be found mostly amongst the youth.       


Emeka Ral


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