Young Nigerians can achieve whatever the heck they want to achieve if they set their minds to it.
I was one of those whose mouth was left hanging open during the nationwide #EndSARS protests of October 2020.
I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that so many young people hit the streets across Nigeria to protest decades of police brutality and human rights abuses, after witnessing decades of apathy from young Nigerians from close quarters.
In my younger days, each time we beckoned on folks to hit the streets in protest, only a few would show up. So we ended up drowning our sorrows with bottles of beer in our little corners of the country instead, while achieving nothing.
We clubbed and socialised as our nation deteriorated before our eyes.
Today, my generation wished it had come out to protest and fight for the country. Mine was a generation of cowards, alcoholics, football fanatics and ‘enjoyment no dey kill person.’
We were a generation of cruise, vibes and Insha Allah. We were a waste. We couldn’t rally support for a chairmanship candidate to save our lives.
Don’t be like us.
#EndSARS was very much the tipping point for many young Nigerians–the rallying cry for all that is wrong with our nation as it were.
Police brutality is a metaphor for all that ails Nigeria. When the history of how Nigeria turned the corner is written someday, the #EndSARS story will no doubt occupy several pages.
In my conversations with young Nigerians after the protests were quashed by soldiers and law enforcement, I have repeatedly stressed that now is the best time to begin organising politically with a view to getting out the votes ahead of the 2023 election.
The ground game for young people has to be near perfect to wrest power from the thieving, corrupt political class pervading the land right now.
More than half of Nigeria’s population is young and starry-eyed. However, not a lot of young people bother to register to vote ahead of election season, not many young people know their councillors or local government chairmen, most young Nigerians would rather play street football or video games during elections and many young Nigerians do not care about the political process–or have left politics for the politicians, in a manner of speaking.
This is like my generation all over again.
It is why our country hasn’t made any headway since independence in 1960 and why the political elite has maintained an asphyxiating stranglehold on our country; and continue to stuff our common patrimony into their rotund tummies.
We all have to care about politics and about who governs us–from the local government level to the legislature. Politics is way too important to be left in the hands of career politicians. Ahead of the 2023 vote, we all have to become politicians. There is no other way around this.
If there’s one thing the #EndSARS movement taught us, it is that young people can achieve whatever the heck they set their minds to achieve if they organise and scream at the top of their lungs. There are just so many talented, tech savvy young Nigerians out there for us to give up on the land of our birth.
If you are a young person who has never registered to vote in any election, don’t worry, voter registration will resume in the first quarter of 2021. You’ve got another opportunity to set your country on the right path by just registering to vote.
If you are a young person with a voter’s card that has never been used because of apathy or because you just wouldn’t be bothered, you have another opportunity in 2023 and beyond.
Apathy gives room to rigging. When only a few people turn out to vote, the thieving politicians continue to rig and perpetuate themselves across all offices.
Going forward, we all have to care about local government elections, legislative elections, governorship elections and presidential elections, if we intend to change our country for good.
In a democratic system of government, the local government chairman may not have as much powers as the president, but he’s just as important in the larger scheme of things because real change begins from the grassroots.
Young people have to be encouraged to register to vote, join political parties and encourage their friends to register to vote and join political parties.
If everyone who participated in the #EndSARS protests registers to vote, what’s to stop young people from electing persons who represent their values and aspirations across all public offices in future? It may read like a long shot right now, but it is doable.
Now is the time to translate all that righteous street anger to the ballot because the ballot is the best way to entrench change in a democracy.
To paraphrase ex-U.S President Barack Obama, don’t just protest or shout. Vote!!
*Topnewstv Editor’s Opinion is the viewpoint of an Editor at Topnewstv. It does not represent the opinion of the Organisation Topnewstv.