By Andrew Agbo-Madaki
Nigeria is reported to have a population of over 170 million and is seen as Africa’s most populous nation. It is also important to note that 70 percent of the population comprises of youths between the ages of 16-35 years. Now with the current life expectancy of 35-45 years, it becomes only fair that the largest segment of the population should be at the helm of power and the decision makers in the country. The youths took a stand and voted for candidates of their choice without fear or favour. The dissatisfaction of the people was shown in their votes. But how many young people really contested and won positions in the recently concluded presidential and national assembly elections? What moves are we making to become the new leaders? This brings to mind the salient question: Is Africa for Sale? Is Africa Rising?
For once, the young people of Nigeria decided to play a major role in politics, secondary but major. They used social media and grassroot communication to lend their voices to the cause of accountability. They campaigned, held debates, rallied, fought with words and finally voted. They voted out an incumbent president out of power. This was not because of a political messiah who had arrived the scene, but a message to say, “if you do not perform, we will vote you out.”
The youth may be compensated with one or two ministerial appointments, a couple of women as well to show the semblance of equal opportunity and gender sensitivity, however at what cost is this to the Nigerian youth?
At what point do we actually support young people to take the reins of power by contesting in a level playing field with the older generation? It is high time we stopped the recycling of old leaders dwelling on past glory but instead put young people with the capacity, intellectual prowess and the will to contribute to the development of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
It is time to choose between the crumbs and the bread, between secondary contribution and primary participation, demystify the myth that we are happy with the pittance passed on to us. This can be done not only through direct involvement with government , it starts from community development projects, knowledge sharing, demand for accountability and resisting corruption. The time has come for African youths to protect their future, refuse the sale of Africa and most of all ensure that Africa Rising is as a result of positive engagement and involvement in the evolution and development of Africa as a whole.
Andrew is a Computer Forensics expert and an ePayment consultant in Nigeria. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers and the founder of the Vote In Peace Initiative.