Myriads of theorizing upon predictions, Africa is gradually earning a swelling reputation for over romanticizing ideologies than taking bold actions to concretize her developmental fortunes. And whereas in climes where development is done than said, leaders forecast the positive impact of development on successive generations; in jurisdictions where development is preached, every rhetoric of UN, IMF, World Bank is reechoed, while we wait for Macron or Obama to win elections, or for U.S., Japan and Russia to monopolize the outer space before we begin to chant in plagiarism ‘yes we can’.
But it will be uncharitable to hold that there is nothing progressive and developmental about the African continent, it is rather apposite to x-ray the pace, innovativeness and committed sincerity in actualizing meaningful development in Africa and the significant roles youth must play in the path to Africa’s renewal. The truism that youths are the trustees of a nation’s peace and prosperity begets the the socio-political concept of ‘Youthocracy’. The idea that young people with transcendent credentials of entrepreneurial and leadership savvies, competence, patriotism, and globally liberal can re-engineer societal progress, development and peace. How then can youth’s resourcefulness: intellect, energy, resilience, aspirations, time, vigor and hope be harnessed to proffer sustainable solutions to mankind’s demanding challenges?
Turning against astonishing odds, young men and women globally are becoming increasingly involved in reshaping the affairs of their nations and the world. This must not be seen as an age war against the older generation, but a strategic societal partnership to translate youth’s resourcefulness for social justice, peace, sustainable development and security. From Former U.S. President Barack Obama to Canadian Prime Minister Justein Trudeau, to the eloquent David Cameron of Britain, to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece and President Emmanuel Macron of Franc, the narrative is gradually dispelling all doubts of youths’ leadership capacity and capabilities.
There are legion of legal framework for youthocracy scattered all over different jurisdictions which are not limited to the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights; Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the African Youth Charter; and the Nigerian National Youth Policy (2009). In Nigeria, while the advocacy for the alteration of Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, to reduce the age qualification for political offices through the Not Too Young To Run Bill gains momentum, it is apt for youths to deliberately design a broader possibilities for their strategic involvements in societal affairs and decision making for development. The problem is not solely with the current legal regime that places age limit for youth’s participation in elective politics, but on youths playing relevant roles that sufficiently prepare them to run at the significant time. Obama started as a community worker and even with his Harvard law certificate he knew what he wanted and most appropriate moment for him; instead of the youth from minority ethnic nations to complain all day about the politicized marginalization of the minorities in Nigeria’s governance structure, political wisdom demands of them to strategically reach out to other young people in other tribes and build reliable alliances across groups while trying to understand the thinking of the diverse ethnic nations of Nigeria and their cultural richness. Through this we can intermarry, build inte-tribal and religious confidence for trust and true friendship.
In our generation, the most enabling legitimacy for youthocracy stems from the state of underdevelopment in the developing world, fearful global insecurity, widening unemployment, absence of gender and social justice amongst other social ail. Because the disasters hit us the most and because we are victims of these social challenges, the onus lies on us to lead the drive to re-engineer mankind, our nations and societies through our high-tech, entrepreneurial and leadership savvies and skills. The creed of youthocracy enshrines essential ingredients in service leadership such as sophisticated intellectual capital; progressive ideologies; rare courage and strong will for bold actions; innovation and ideas that alter status quo, and abiding patriotism that defies greed and corruption. Youthocracy produces youth that recognize the impact of their academic learning and degree on development and the promotion of societal good or nothing else. Those considered apostles of youthocracy are imbued with the credentials of credibility and uncompromising life standard for excellence, possessing unique values for services, good governance, and selfless.
With youthocracy accepted as an essential lexicon for our progress, we must then proceed to shun all unnecessary expectations for miracle or magic development, developmental revolution will prompt real development in all sectors of Nigerian economy for all components of our federation through strategic innovation for lasting change. In my earlier piece titled ‘THE DEBT OF DEVELOPMENT: YOUTH & DEVELOPMENT ON TRIAL’, I wrote that ‘the widening state of poverty, underdevelopment, ethnic and religious sentiments across national lines call for the Nigerian youth to take corrective measures to redefining and reclaiming Nigeria’s dream and greatness. Our generation in leadership must imbue ourselves with strong and patriotic characters and values to build strong institutions; build our economy for global competitiveness; create newie job opportunities through sustainable economic diversifications; we will build our technological sector and find new scientific solutions to old challenges; we must reestablish a global educational system that really support entrepreneurial innovations and can harness the impact of university degree on development; we must reduce the cost of governance to cater more for the welfare of our general workforce; we can not afford not to build quality healthcare system to avoid travelling abroad for every little medical attention’. Youthocracy enshrines youth’s governance in diverse sectors and not necessarily politics alone as against the current sole trade in desire of many people with the syndrome of ‘quick-money-through-politics’. Young people must exhibit stellar leadership exceptionalities in political, corporate, religious and traditional institutions.
Youthocracy will enact shared volunteerism in governance, reducing the ‘glamorousness’ of our political culture and drastically cut the cost of governance to focus more on the welfare of workers for productive and social security than the welfare of few politicians. Shared volunteerism in youthocracy means that the young leaders have to sacrifice and share their major leadership entitlements for the common benefits of the generality of the people. The young leaders have to invest more in developing both the human capital of her people and the natural resources of the state for state development.
It is already out of fashion to keep blaming the old men at the exit lodge of our nation’s affairs but even more woeful if our generation turns a disastrous liability obstructing our progress, integration, security and development just as most of our retiring leaders did. The relevant youth must therefore, proclaim his usefulness through the manifestation of his content for solutions to societal issues at all time. Define your life identity; register a business and start your entrepreneurial passion no matter how small if you are business inclined; participate in electoral process if you are qualified; join voluntary or pro bono community edifying engagements; support advocacies for common societal good. The truth is these things may not immediately make you rich but will certainly define your path to genuine success in life. My fear is however engaged by youth’s excessive scrambling for materialistic honour and luxury which somehow is not a fault of a handful few. Make no mistake to misconstrue my opinion as anti-richness, for God forbid that we teach poverty as a virtue or an appreciable state of life but hard work, patience and legitimacy to success are familiar factors for good society. And matter-of-factly, the society’s contributory negligence and failure to institutionalize social security largely push the youth to avoidable crimes with internet fraud as an average rich youth’s rescuing career. And this is the case not becaus the youths naturally desire to occupy such huge criminal identity but for the unfriendly environment and lack of opportunity to actualize one’s potentials and legitimately make ends means. There is however no acceptable excuse for criminality.
And because our future is nearly butchered to emptiness by greedy politicians, we must make haste to recreate a nation of new possibilities for our generation and hope for the generations after us by harnessing our demographic and voting strength, resilience, and intelligence in defence of our democracy and development. Though it is in the best interest of governments at all levels to ensure inclusive youth participation in major decion-making and development process of our nation, the stake lies more in the hands of the young people to rekindle they role in diiferent sectors of nation building from local governments to federal level. In our time, you will be certified a great man if racism, tribalism and religious fanaticism is not found in your attribute; you will be considered rich if you cherish ideologies that promote collective good against personal greed; you are exceptional if you imbue yourself with distinguishing skills, competence and capacities to save the world, for in all these shall mankind be free.
For the youths to make lasting impact, their may consider building sustainable partnerships both in business and politics as well as other endeavours of life. Partnerships produce assurance of results where individual strength could fail. Given the large scale of our socio-economic and leadership challenges, an individual’s ideas and strength may not be sufficient to execute giant developmental investments, community projects and leadership initiatives, hence, the compelling need to combine talents, skills and fund for more prosperous results. This will enable youths to credibly start up value adding ventures legitimately with better prospects for greatness. A readily instance is the All Times Law Partners projected to be Africa’s largest legal partnership by 2025, offering clients expertise solutions in different aspects of law and leading in Africa’s development transactions.
I love Nigeria my place of origin and the world’s most naturally and humanly endowed Nation. The hope of making Nigeria great lies in the hands, heads and hearts of the youths. May God guide us aright to reaffirm our unalloyed commitment to the Partnership for Developmental Revolution in our nation. For certainly if we work faithfully through the valley of patriotism, then the promise of building an export, technology and knowledge based economy is assured; the dream of an efficient and corrupt-free institutions will be achieved; the reality of selfless service in governance will manifest; our infrastructures will be rebuilt to provide basic amenities for the common man; and surely our nation will regain our seat of greatness among the comity of nations.
Ekpa, Stanley Ekpa, writes from Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University.