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Reflections on Nigerian Youth and the 2019 General Elections

In the build-up to the 2019 general elections, one would have believed that the tomorrow in the popular saying was here, finally. Just as there were youthful aspirants on the ballot, there were also young people who appeared tired of the status quo.

Unfortunately, the results of the elections show that young Nigerians are still too heavily divided along religious, ethnic and political lines to cause any real change in the leadership structure of this country.

A few months to the election, the president assented to the “Not too young to Run” Bill. Many young people were seen jubilating, thinking that the time to rise and wrest power away from the routine of recycling old leaders had come. However, a few weeks to the election, everyone became either ‘Atikulated’ or ‘Buharilised.’

Who do we think we are deceiving? We are not too young to complain about being marginalised by the system, yet, we consent to this same system every four years.

After the Presidential Election held on the 23rd of February, if you did a survey and asked how many people chose a candidate who was not Buhari or Atiku, you will find the numbers abysmal. Yet, we keep complaining about the structure we are currently ruled by.

The fresh breed of youthful politicians who contested in February and March was a reflection of the good old days when the crop of politicians vying for public offices were young and filled with new ideas. But, unlike those days, the mentality of today’s voters is sealed in the belief that “if it is not PDP then it must be APC,” and this is tragic for a plethora of reasons.

The most aggravating part of this, however, is when you ask people why they voted for either of the popular candidates, after openly supporting the unpopular ones. The most frequent response is: “They don’t have a chance.” But did you give them the chance?

In spite of their thought-provoking and detailed manifestos, these unpopular candidates were only able to receive votes from themselves, their families and those who voted for them out of pity.

After watching the Channels TV Presidential Debate, my neighbour quipped: “This is the kind of people we need but they can’t win.” I asked him why he thought so and he said: “They have no structure.”

I understand that popular candidates already have their structures well built and maintained by the people around them, but that’s where the politics of unemployment comes in. They put their relatives in spaces you are more qualified to fill in the Civil service and keep you out of a job so that you can rely on them for your daily bread, while they rely on your maintenance of their political structures.

What is the solution? When will tomorrow come?

Even with its visible lapses, I still believe in the Nigerian electoral system and I believe the solution to the trouble with Nigeria is a Democratic Revolution where we will all vote overwhelmingly (for candidates) outside the status quo and the powers that be will have no other choice than to accept the overwhelming choice of the masses. It is then that our long-awaited tomorrow will come.

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