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The 2022/2023 Nigerian Youth Revolution: Advice, Warning, Predictions (Part One)

By Abuchi Obiora

This discourse is meant to serve the triple purposes of an advice, a warning and a prophecy depending on how the Nigerian government authorities handle the unfolding events in the polity, before, during and after the elections of 2023.

It is not in doubt that Nigeria is experiencing some necessary hiccups in her polity as the country prepares for the 2023 general elections. For this reason, the central theme of this work is basically advisory, and where the government authorities refuse to heed the advice, I warn of the impending dangers. The predictions that may follow are borne out of my knowledge of the natural pattern of events around the world when sensible natural evolution and peaceful revolution have been rejected in favour of the choice of a violent, chaotic revolution as always happen in nature.

Before we find out the meaning of the first keyword ‘Revolution’ in this discourse, let us find out the meaning of its exact opposite, ‘Evolution’, because of the necessity in this discourse to prove that the natural or man-induced absence of one makes the manifestation of the other inevitable.

According to the Oxford Advanced Leaners’ Dictionary (Special Price Edition), ‘Evolution’ is:

  1. The gradual development of the characteristics of plants and animals over many generations especially the development of more complicated forms from earlier, simpler forms.
  • The process of gradual development, for example, “In politics, Britain has preferred evolution to revolution”, i.e. Britain has preferred ‘gradual development’ to ‘violent change’

So, what is ‘Revolution’? Some people, especially those people who lack knowledge especially some people in government who, out of fear of losing their jobs as a result of their ineptitude, always make moles out of anthills, want us to believe that ‘Revolution’ as an English word is evil, and should be dreaded and avoided.

According to the same dictionary ‘Revolution’ is:

  1. An attempt to change the system of government especially in a bloody way and by force; e.g. the French revolution of 1789.
  • Complete or dramatic change of method, conditions, or modus operandi in a peaceful, spontaneous and not necessarily bloody way, e.g. the recent Revolution in Sri Lanka that ousted the President of that country. (The emphasis and example are mine).

Having differentiated the two words ‘Evolution’ and ‘Revolution’ one from the other and found out their exact meanings, it is evident that the earliest political elites in Nigeria and their successors who have long misruled and ruined Nigeria since independence have quietly subverted the evolution of the political process of the country, and made revolution inevitable.

Let us, therefore, examine the possibility, necessity and urgency of a political revolution the peaceful way (the second option of our definition) through the ballot box, to address all the mistakes made by the present political class. From our definitions, we found out that though violence, anarchy and unrest are commonly and generally ascribed to the natural process of ‘Revolution’ when its exact opposite ‘Evolution’ has not been allowed to be, ‘Revolution’ does not necessary connote violence. On the contrary, it connotes a congruence of common idea, mass movement and spontaneity as opposed to the long-drawn subtle characters of its exact opposite, ‘Evolution’.

The natural process of change in all life phenomena comes about through evolution. Revolution happens as a result of the inordinate ambition and greed of human beings who wish not to be displaced from their comfort zones, rightly or wrongly attained. This set of people, as a result of stubbornness, negligence, or both, are usually not amenable to natural, peaceful change and transformation. For this reason, the advisory leg of the tripod upon which this discourse is anchored would be considered from the perspective of attaining a peaceful youth revolution in Nigeria through the electoral process in 2023.

Let us proceed to find out the meaning of the second keyword ‘Youth’ used in this discourse. Who are Nigerian youths? For statistical purposes of general and international application, the United Nations defines ‘Youth’ as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years old, though the international body allows member countries to identify who their youths are at whatever age brackets that is most suitable for their specific needs.

Biologically, youthful age means the age between 18 years and 35 years, after which year definite signs of maturity during the middle ages of 40 years and 60 years appear. This biological landmark is the reason for the aphorism ‘Life begins at 40’. After 60 years (the peak of middle age), signs of old age gradually begin to set in.

However, the new ‘Youth Policy’ (2019) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that persons aged between 15 and 29 years are regarded as youths and envisaged as being so in the national planning for budget, while the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Youth definition Document and the African Youth Charter of the A.U, (African Union) recognizes persons between the ages of 15 and 35 years old as youths.

For the reason of these varied definitions around the world, the word ‘youth’ as used in this discourse captures those people who are youthful in body, mind and spirit. Consequently in this discourse, and generally in Africa, the word ‘Youth participation’ in politics signifies ‘progressivism’ in politics, which by the way, is also the common understanding of the word ‘youth’ by most Nigerians.

The demographics (Nigeria population estimate 2022) puts the current population of Nigeria at 218, 601, 314 persons based on the projections of the United Nations data. The United Nation’s data also records that Nigeria has the largest population of youths in the world, with a median age of 18.1 years. As a result of this, 70% of the population of Nigeria are youths. These figures became effective last month precisely on 18th July, 2022.

If we were to take 70% of 218,601,314, we will be getting 153,020,920 as the total youth population in Nigeria. This means that most Nigerians are youths obviously because of the low life expectancy of Nigerians. According to statista.com, the life expectancy for Nigerian male is 59 years while that for Nigerian females is 63 years, obviously too, as a result of abject poverty, penury, minimum access to medical care, etc.

Looking at these facts, the total number of eligible youths to vote during elections in Nigeria is not a figure to play with. These youths therefore are a latent and potent force to determine the type of government Nigeria will have in 2023, if they decide to take over the political stage. But this can only happen when the preferred candidate of the youths is able to garner a block majority vote of the youths.

The recent figure released by the INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) after the recent registration exercise favour the opinion that a youth revolution in Nigeria is possible and can yield good results in the 2023 Presidential election, enough to take away political leadership from the older politicians and hand it over to the youths.

The INEC ended the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise for this year with a total number of 96.2million registered voters. The last figure before this was 84 million voters. According to INEC, there was an increase of 12.2million voters after the exercise with youths consisting of 70% of the newly registered voters. If 70% of total registered voters are youths, then there will be about 67,340,000 youth voters for the 2023 elections.

Furthermore, a look at INEC statistics of registered voters, voters turn-out and percentage turn-out of registered voters since 1979 when the Nigerian democratic dispensation started shows a steady increase in the number of registered voters, though voter turn-out and percentage turn-out as a result of voter apathy and/or concern for safety of voters as a result of the increasing insecurity in the country, have not been in tandem with the increasing number of registered voters.

At a glance, the figures portray the increasing desire of Nigerians, especially the youths, to be part of choosing the people who occupy political offices as shown in the table below:

INEC STATISTICS ON REGISTERED VOTERS, VOTERS TURN-OUT AND PERCENTAGE TURNOUT.

YEARREGISTERED VOTERSVOTERS TURN OUTPERCENTAGE TURN OUT
197948,499,09117,098,26735.25%
198365,304,81825,430,09638.94%
199335,156,05514,293,39643.10%
200360,823,02242,018,73569.08%
200761,567,03636,397,51757.49%
201173,528,04039,469,48453.68%
201567,422,00529,432,08343.65%
201982,344,10728,614,19034.75%

REASONS FOR LOW VOTER TURN-OUT

The following four reasons may be adduced as reasons for low voter turn-out in Nigeria elections:

  1. Lack of interest as a result of unpopular, not people-oriented candidates.
  • Fear of violence instigated by prospective election riggers at the polling stations.
  • Electoral malpractices both by the INEC and the political parties (‘our votes will not count syndrome’).
  • Lack of interest on the electoral process as a result of poor governance by the government conducting the election.

The report card of the elections conducted by the INEC in eight different election years summarizes that the number of registered voters when considered with candidates who emerged victorious in those elections do not present a rocket science guarantee for victory for the best and most popular candidates after elections. There is always the rigging factor and the pattern of consistent abuse of the power of incumbency has been established to be the major source of rigging, excepting, of course, in 2015 elections when the then President Goodluck Jonathan accepted defeat and handed over power to President Mohammadu Buhari.

What may not be clear until the elections are concluded in 2023 is the impact of the new electoral law signed by the President, which makes a provision for on-the-site, on-the-spot electronic transmission of election results. But it is commonly believed that Nigerian politicians are adepts in election rigging and may have concluded ways and means to electronically rig the 2023 elections. Time will tell.

The present generation of Nigerian politicians and leaders (some of them have been in the saddle for more than 30 years of the country’s political history) have steered the ship of the nation to rocky waters. Thomas Jefferson (13th April 1743 – 4th July 1826), a legendary spokesperson for democracy who is regarded as the father of American democracy being also the principal author of America’s Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States of America between 1801 and 1809 did say that, “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government”. For decades, this has not reflected in the Nigeria story though the country claims to practice the democratic system of government copied from America.

Another statesman, this time from England, Sir Francis Bacon also known as Lord Verulam (22nd January, 1561 – 9th April 1626), a philosopher who served as the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England in his time, observed that “….he that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils, for time is the greatest innovator”. So is it that the innovation which is the entry of Nigerian youths into politics as a result of lack of new remedies by the old politicians to Nigeria’s numerous problems is quietly building up a silent revolution necessitated by the long years of neglect of Nigeria and Nigerians by her leaders.

Diogenes of Sanope who referred to himself as Diogenes the Dog (404 BC – 323 BC), the world’s greatest cynic (he was the founding father of Cynic Philosophy and the founder of the not-too-popular school of intellectual thought called Cosmopolitanism) in his uncommon wisdom expressed through queer, satiric outbursts, noted that, “The foundation of every stall (a word which literally means ‘specie of animal’, including humans) is the education of its youths.”

If the survival of animal species are based on the education of their ‘Youths’ (offspring’s) as we observe in the characteristic features of animals such as the lioness whose sharp roars send her cubs hiding away from predators, what can we say about human beings, Nigerian politicians and government officials who have exhibited a nonchalant attitude to Nigerian University youths that have been locked out of their schools for about six months for an issues the government can easily address?

If hens can shield their chicks from the ragging kites when the chicks are vulnerable and drive the chicks away and even bites them when it feels that they can fend for themselves but prefer to follow their mother, it sounds ridiculous that the old Nigerian politicians whose ideas are worn out, having been overtaken by time and the force of change, have refused to allow Nigerian youths to take over the sociopolitical and economic leadership of the country. These, and more are signs of failure of a government and political leadership which is supposed to give way for better direction by Nigerian youths.

Benjamin Disraeli (21st December 1804 – 19th April 1881) a British statesman and the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield  who was a major factor in the creation of the modern Conservative Party in Britain and served twice as the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, noted that “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”. Is it not frightening, leaving Nigeria with an uncertain future that the old Nigerian politicians have been recycling themselves in different political offices for many decades, creating a clear vacuum of succession plan and absence of effective leadership?

This clear vacuum of a succession plan and absence of effective leadership necessitated the emergence of a Nigerian youth revolution which is presently sweeping across the country. On the strength of this vacuum too, Mr. Peter Obi and Dr. Yusuf Datti-Ahmed, two technocrat-politicians have risen above the stagnancy of the status quo, as they dissociated themselves from the rotten system and decided to chart a new course for Nigerian youths by flying the Presidential and Vice Presidential flags, respectively, of the Labour Party in Nigeria. 

(TO BE CONCLUDED)

ABUCHI OBIORA

abuchiobiora@gmail.com

FOR:

Global Upfront Newspapers

www.globalupfront.com

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