Nigerian youths have blamed themselves for the current high level of insecurity, poverty, unemployment, and hardship under the current government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The youths blamed non-engagement with governance, politics and public policy for lousy leadership in the nation and have vowed to make a better future for the nation’s large youth population by getting more active before the 2023 general elections.
This is the resolve of youth in the earliest Elevating Youth Voices Virtual Summit hosted by Prof. Kingsley Moghalu-led Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET).
Speaking at the function which sought greater youth engagement to improve governance, M.I, stated, “We can’t afford to not use our programs for change.
“Just because somebody knows how to control the elections game does not mean they’ll be helpful for all of us. Today, I will see how the ignorance of our young folks about how elections have been won affects the quality of our own lives .”
Prof. Moghalu had earlier urged young Nigerians to take control of the present so as to form the future.
“With unemployment at 33 per cent and 40 million youth jobless or underemployed, 100 million living in extreme poverty, and United Nations demographics projecting a population of 400 million by 2050, what does the future hold for our young people who make up almost 70% of Nigeria’s population? The future is now, and you must colonize it and form it for the better”, he said.
Actor Joseph Benjamin, added,”We have a responsibility to engage with public coverage and we have a responsibility to sensitize the people, however, we as influencers have to be careful about that which we give our voices because it also affects our brand”.
In her address, DJ Switch, who played a prominent part in the #EndSARS protests and is currently in hiding for her security from the Nigerian government, criticized creative business influencers who hobnob with tainted politicians while criticizing bad governance.
“If you aren’t good for me personally, then your cash is not good either. Influencers need to have a stand! We can’t criticize a government that steals from us every day and turn about and collect their cash”, she emphasized.
Regina Askia, the former beauty queen and actress, noted that the #EndSARS youth uprising highlighted the impact and power of social media.
The favourite actress, a United States-based nurse practitioner and public health advocate stated,”#EndSARS hashtags yielded over 28 million tweets over a weekend.”
Askia noted the challenge stayed that of the way the youth can be steered to more active involvement from the governmental process, in particular voting in elections.
Sandra Ezekwesili, a powerful radio talk show host, opined that”Nigerian youth are realistic about the reality of the electoral process and the political space”, but if it came into the #EndSARS protest, she said,”we have yet to be disobedient enough, more #EndSARS have to occur” for real change to come to Nigeria.
Rinu Oduola, the #EndSARS activist, stated, “Many people prefer to take part in a demonstration than vote through associations that have failed us in the past.
“I abandoned the judicial panel because I did not see any justice coming from it”. Miss Oduala believed that”voter apathy is fuelled from the unsuccessful politicians that the political parties put up as candidates”. “We need tried and tested individuals as candidates, not political party opportunists”, ” she said.
Moghalu educated the summit participants who while calm protest remained an essential right in a democracy, it cannot replace the importance of voting as a means to create lasting change by electing more competent leaders. The former Republican candidate in Nigeria’s general elections in 2019 remembered the Arab Spring protests that were pushed by social networking.
“That’s because the Arab youth neglected to take the power of their Arab Spring into atomic politics by joining political parties, voting in massive amounts for applicants of their choice, and standing as candidates. This abandoned the old guard in these countries efficiently accountable”.
Kate Henshaw, a leading Nollywood actress who has been a candidate for elective political office, stressed: “It’s time to move from complaining on social websites to act at the grassroots. The people who vote, half of these aren’t on social media”. She added that”social websites have its good side, but we just have to give it more meat”.
“Culture shapes the destiny of nations, but politics may change the culture”, Timi Olagunju, an intellectual property attorney mentioned in his contribution at the summit. “Yes, societal media matters, but advocacy is not enough, and we must move into action at decentralized community levels” he explained.
The IGET will sponsor the summit on a quarterly basis, focusing on subjects affecting Nigerian youth and the nation’s development.