IN the final analysis the 2015 General elections are about our collective welfare-our common good and a better future of which the youth are the leaders . And hence this piece to prod the youth to demonstrate responsible leadership, wisdom and patriotism in this season of elections. No election has been as bitter and filled with untruths and dishonesty as this and we have to be careful not to step unto traps set for our downfall by enemies. Recall the dreadful prediction by those with big lenses about the possible collapse of our dear country- Nigeria this year following the catastrophes that would befall the country as result of failed election. Rigging and other forms of violations of the integrity of the electoral process are pointed as the bane. The youths must reject rigging, shun any act of violence bearing in mind that any time the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. In other words any time there are rigging and violence it is the youth that suffer most-so be wise and stay cool away from violence.
Though in a recent writing I argued that Nigeria would not break because there are no fault lines to that effect, yet the rough way politicians have conducted themselves even after the Abuja Accord for peace leaves much to be expected that should trouble the hearts of any patriot. With increasing harsh words and deeds of provocations- many of them unnecessary, with lies and senseless fabrications, with the deliberate misuse of history to confuse the electorate for votes and with the shadow of the military too close to power for comfort, there is sprawling fear and reasonable ground for much apprehension about the future of our big, and potentially great country.
Rapidly the politicians are driving the country crazily and dangerously to the ebb of the precipice. But there is a reliable route out from our ancient, pre-colonial history –the effective and positive use of the power of the youth and the intelligent utilization of their boundless energy and creativity. For instance, in the Africa of old, when things get to such dangerous breaking- point in society the elders would call in the youths for necessary actions such as territorial defense and protection. It is in this sense that the youth remains the hope and savior of society. This is largely so because of their power, intellect and idealism to do the needful magic in the higher collective interest of society.
Things are no longer at ease and they are falling apart steadily. There is no doubt that poorly conducted elections- a rigged outcome would hasten the fall. The Nigerian youths should get things right. The elections are not about religion, ethnicity, tribalism. Those are propaganda, the manipulation of the elites to advance selfish narrow interest. No one has power to Christianize or Islamize the country. It is essentially an elites game for political power with those with those with saying that they would use it to more and those without it saying that they would do far much better. So sharpen your eyes and think deeply, and evaluate speakers to make a difference between lies and truths, between honesty and dishonesty before casting your vote.
As strong believer in the power of youth to make our world a better place I am writing to urge you to be responsible and positive in actions throughout the elections. Your Voter’s card is your treasure, part of your power that makes you equal to any person in the country. Use it to help put the government of choice in power. Don’t sell it. Rather use it to make a point that you are as important as the next person no matter his present status. This is the practical meaning of one –man , one vote democracy . It is the source of your strength- so use it well. The Nigerian youth must reject attempts to recruit them as thugs to do violence. Ask any politician who approaches to either show you his child or get lost. Your life as precious as his own or that of his child. I have heard people talk about stomach infrastructure – reject such people for the real and better things of life. Remind them as Jesus Christ did to the Devil who came to tempt him with food that ‘ life is not about bread alone’. Ask what they have for the youth especially in terms of employment, poverty, inequality, rural neglect, poor infrastructure, insecurity etc. In short ask what they have to make life more meaningful for everyone including the youths rather few privileged ones. The youths working for INEC must show exemplary conduct- diligence, patriotism and determination to save democracy in the higher national interest. They must resist temptation and be mindful of the many cunning ways of the elites to corrupt the system.
No society grows without respect for the rule of law. The youth must therefore acquaint themselves with the ‘dos and don’ts’ of the elections .For example note the date , time and place for accreditation and voting and act according to instruction, stay on the queue for necessary actions, fill your papers in secret in the area provided and drop the papers in the ballot box. On the day of election no canvassing for votes within 300 meters of polling units, shout slogans concerning the election, carry dangerous weapons, wear colours or symbols of political parties, snatch or destroy any voting materials, blare siren loiter after voting or being refused to vote. Consequence of violation is ugly- a fine of N100,000.00 or six months imprisonment for any offences. So if any politician recruits you for such thing say no to him and go about your lawful business. This the time to move the nation forward on the democratic lane,-no to rigging, no to violence. Vote wisely according to your conscience and conviction.