The chants , Youth O'Clock, is deservedly a well coined parlance which aptly, described and capture the whims and desires of a demographics in the country. It was supposed to provoke a national conversation around many things -- youth participation in politics, youths involvement in governance, and total reawakening to current realities in the country.
Since the return to democratic rule, in 1999, same crop of leaders whom had hitherto been within the corridors of power, or had been in and out of power, and still influence the instrument of power in the country are still calling the shot in Nigeria's brand of democracy.
The age long and most incongruous statement; Youths are the Leaders of Tomorrow, has turned out, as it were to be unrealistic, at least in Nigeria.
What is more intriguing and appalling is, every formidable policies or structure which would guarantee seamless youth participation in politics has he been rendered ineffective by same class of people.
Education, for instance, which is roundly the surest path to escape ignorance has become a thing of luxury, only few could have access to it -- children of our political leaders and the privileged. How best can one describe the aloofness of even the youths, to the nearly five months old industrial strike by university lecturers, ASUU?
The supposed youths refused to take the proverbial destinies into their own hands, rather awkwardly remain a ready tool or pawn in the hands of politicians who, sadly mortgage their future.
Everyone's attention is fixated on 2023 presidential elections. Sadly, it is the same youths who are largely pursuing and amplifying these campaigns, which has reached fever pitch.
From Obidients, to BATist, Atikulated to Kwankwasiyya, the message is resonating so loud it has dwarfed the call to attention on FG-ASUU impasse.
While it is in their democratic rights to do so -- choosing who to support or not, the question is, what becomes of their efforts in post elections spoils, should their respective candidates win?
Usually, from experience, youths do not negotiate for a position, neither are they consulted or considered suitable for any cabinet positions after helping a government come to power. In appointing a minister of Youth, for instance, a quinquagenarian is most likely to be chosen, against a vibrant, energetic youth.
The system has been skewed to perpetually keep newbies, and commoners out of political equation, in the country. Whenever a youth makes a political headway, it's usually a son of some big name, as evidenced in the just concluded party primaries, where children of ex governors and ministers got their party's nomination slot.
The rigours and realities of 21st century, is predicated upon technology --a comfort zone of youths. Having a competent individual of a youthful demeanor should be a no issue.
Oddly, it seems, the youths don't even believe in themselves. currently, there are a number of youthful candidates vying for different positions, outside the fold of the front line or dominant political parties, in the country. For instance, YPP, which is the young people's party, AAC, PRP, ADP, AC, AA, etc. Candidates of these parties are youths, in the right sense if it. But, befuddlingly, most youth would rather opt for a known personality, probably an ex this or ex that, whom had stolen from their commonwealth. Clearly, such youth had abandoned his own.
These are fundamentally what is wrong with us as a nation. We celebrate mediocres and big names without recourse to processes of scrutiny of such individuals.
If a candidate says he's competent, regardless of his age, then, we must note here, competence requires sound brainpower and moral judgement, which according to clinical psychologist, declines in humans as they aged.
Again, some other candidates would boast of their capabilities. Most often than not, capabilities are hinged largely on what one is capable of doing, like being bold, fearless and natural risktaker. But research has shown, people in their 30s, 40s and up to 50s are most likely to take serious risk than older demographics.
Some other candidates would claim to have the capacity to rule, no matter the seeming natural law of decline, which includes fragility, slow comprehension, distorted or slurred speech and to some extent, dementia.
Nature cannot be manipulated, hence one cannot cheat it.
Most of the frontline candidates in the upcoming elections are well past their prime, while others are within a grudgingly appreciable or acceptable limits, like Labour Party's Peter Obi and Sen. Rabiu M Kwankwaso of the NNPP.
Those putting up an argument, around issue of age in governance and making sly comparisons with Joe Biden's America ought to be reminded about the latter's strong, independent and formidable institutions which checkmates and governs the country. Same, however, cannot be said of Nigeria.
Nigerian youths constitutes about 45% of the entire population, making them highest in terms of numerical strength and value. If they put up and support a candidate for elections, no matter the gerrymandering and rigging, such candidate would win, certainly. Pathetically, no such strength of valor is expended toward any youthful presidential or other positional candidate.
It is about five months now, Nigerian students, mostly youths are idling away as a result of strike action precipitated by insensitivities of political actors that the very youth help bring to power.
This should strike a cord and provoke a change of narrative on the conduct of our leaders.
World over, youths are the agents which bring about real change from the status quo. From Hong Kong to Latin America, and Arabia. As they desire change, they had their way.
For us in Nigeria, there is no better way to do it than through the ballot box, which, fortunately the youths has the numerical strength to do just that. Rather than allowing a generation which care less about them, the time to provoke that change is certainly now, especially as 2023 in staring at us right in the face.
Abdullahi D Mohammed is with the Department of Political Science, at the Ahmadu Bello University-Zaria.
He writes from Kano.