“The test of democracy is not whether the people rule, but whether the government is responsive to the will of the people.”
– Peter F. Drucker
(Austrian-American management consultant, educator, and author)
Young people have an important role in molding Nigeria’s democratic processes and future. As the country’s youth population grows exponentially, it is critical to acknowledge their relative power and potential as agents of both positive and negative change. Nigeria, like the world’s other most populous countries, has one of the youngest populations, with almost 60% of its people under the age of 35. This demographic shift provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance for young Nigerians to actively shape the destiny of their neighborhoods, and thus the country as a whole.
Nonetheless, despite their numerical strength, young people in Nigeria confront numerous artificial barriers to political involvement. Many people are disengaged from politics because they lack trust in politicians and the government, have limited access to information, and feel excluded from decision-making processes.
Furthermore, many young people are economically disenfranchised, either by individuals who do not wish to relinquish public office or by policies that are no longer in sync with contemporary economic forces. This, in turn, limits young people’s ability to participate in politics and affect policy.
To ensure young people’s active engagement in Nigeria’s democratic future, an enabling environment that promotes youth inclusion and empowerment must be created. This can be accomplished through projects and programs that encourage civic engagement, enhance access to information that prepares young people for leadership roles, and provide economic opportunity for young people to succeed. Political parties and civil society organizations must also create more opportunities for young people to participate in political decision-making processes.
One way to do this is to recognize and celebrate young people’s positive contributions in all aspects, as well as to build all-inclusive governance systems that include them in decision-making processes. While the 2023 election voter turnout of 27% falls below expectation, it calls for a critical overhauling of the system, policies and voter register which might not be a true picture of our reality about previous election turnout.
Finally, the not too young to run initiative is a good political initiative because political parties gave some forms of consideration to young people and females aspiration for political positions in the last election, which is a good step forward; however, those in positions of authority and governance must learn to give way and trust the young people with leadership roles; only by doing so can we have more active participation of young people in politics.
Godwin Boyi Ngwai
Writes from Wamba, Nasarawa State, Nigeria