“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by inferiors”- Plato
Youths, most especially in a country like Nigeria, do not like to involve themselves in anything political. They prefer to spend such time or effort on things that are more social, like social events, social media and other things. Why does this happen? Did the old generation send the wrong message of what politics is to us? What effects does this cause on our nation? What can we do to salvage this situation?
We will be looking at this in the course of this article. Now let us define some terms.
What is Political Discourse?
Political discourse “refers to the discourse practices engaged in by all actors – from politicians and organizations to citizens – in a political process.”
What is Social Discourse?
“Social discourse is speech or text communication that involves a social element.”
Who is a Youth?
“Youth is the time of life when one is young, and often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”
Reasons why Youth Participate in Social Discourse.
Parents and guardians of young people have not been able to understand why young people love to be more socially inclined than their generation. Taking social media for example, a parent can not rap their head around why young are constantly chatting, taking pictures, involving in challenge and checking the number of followers they have.These are some of the reasons for this;
“1.Develop better social skills
2.Feel less isolated
3.Learn about new cultural and societal ideas and issues
4.Bond with their friends
6.Be creative and share their own ideas with friends
7.Be better equipped to be active citizens in society
8.Develop real world skills to help them become more independent
9.Learn about world events and current affairs outside of their immediate environment”.
Reasons why Youth do not Participate in Political Discourse
- The change they want cannot be achieved in politics
- Lack of trust in the system.
- Lack of information
5.Absence of Security at voting centers.
Other reasons why young people do not want to involve in politics or anything political are
“6.The use of thugs, cultists, criminals and militants to intimidate political opponents.
- Hyper-critical negative media: Negative political news coverage and political criticisms, which in most cases are not always constructive, create cynicism in many Nigerians. Thus, voters are at times over-fed with falsehood and frightening images of the political environment.
- Illiteracy and poverty: Illiteracy and poverty are two powerful forces which militate against political participation in Nigeria. Victims of these forces have little or no interest in political activities.
- Failure of elected political office holders to honor electioneering promises and the imposition of candidates on voters by political parties. “
The change they want cannot be achieved
In the world, young people are the majority. Being young is characterized by passion, energy and positive thinking. Young people believe solely in change, most live on the mantra of change being the only constant thing. Throughout time in history, young people have been seen causing great transitions, inventions and scientific discoveries. They also want to see good governance and security. They want to see a new nation, but these things are like mirages. They are dreams that are not tangible. This just discourages young people, and they just fold their ends to watch how it unfolds. Even when young people participate, it still lands in the hands of old people. It is just a cyclical system.
Lack of Trust in the System
Trust is defined as, “firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.”from Oxford Dictionary.
A cycle of bad governance, with people having hope today and the hope getting dashed tomorrow. It becomes tough for young people to keep hope and trust in the government. The trust gets diminished, and young people get distracted in other things totally different from politics.
Lack of Information
Availability of information is one of the most vital keys to good governance. Making an avenue for young people to have access to public documents serves as a critical tool to shuning corruption, enabling them to participate fully in public life, making the governments more efficient, encouraging participation and investment, and then helping people exert their fundamental rights. 
Godfatherism is “A form of political corruption in which an influential individual handpicks another, often less influential candidate, to attain leadership in order to exert authority or influence. This may be due to the unpopularity of one candidate, or to work around incumbency term limits”, according to Wiktionary.
Godfatherism is like a cankerworm to the fabric of good governance. Where the godson has to dance to the tune of the Godfather. He listens to the will of the Godfather more than he listens to people. The God father gives him the platform to get to a position and in turn he returns the favor like a return on investment. Young people are lost not wanting to have a Godfather. You cannot beat them, you join them. The passion that comes is sipped out of them, and then they lose interest.
What are the Consequences of Young People not Participating in Politics?
It breeds bad leadership.
It causes an economic meltdown.
It reduces what democracy stands for you.
There is corruption
It breeds bad leadership
Leadership is service. A good leader for a cause is a faithful servant to that cause. A leader that gets into office to satisfy his or her own needs would not bother about the needs of the people.
In tough situations, he is not able to empathize with the people cause he has no connection to them. He sees himself like someone that just directs and not someone to emulate.
A person who is not moved by insecurity once his family is safe or not concerned with the tertiary institutions going on strike upon strike, as long as his children are schooling abroad. A bad leader is selfish, not empathetic and proud.
It causes an economic meltdown
Having selfish leaders or leaders that are not well equipped for the offices they hold will bring about a meltdown. Imagine an agricultural related course graduate sitting in the office of finance in a nation. It is like a bad joke, a tickling time bomb!
The price of exchange of naira to dollars keeps on increasing astronomically.
The amount of money that are being discovered to be embezzled by our leaders.
The lavish lifestyle people in politics live.
Total dependence on oil, without any intention to diversify the source of revenue for the country.
Herdsmen killing farmers and eating farm produce, leading to the high cost of food.
These things are enough to run down any economy. If young people do not step up politically to enforce a change in this nation, people will willingly enter the ship for slave trade in foreign lands.
It reduces what democracy stands for.
“The word democracy comes from the Greek words “demos”, meaning people, and “kratos”meaning power; so democracy can be thought of as “power of the people”: a way of governing which depends on the will of the people.”
Democracy is simply the government of the people, by the people and for the people. The popular definition by Abraham Lincoln.
Those two definitions show that democracy is anchored on the people,in that in everything the interest of the people should come first. Once the laser beam is shifted from the people to something else, the purpose of democracy is lost.
Another area to look at is, the word “by the people”, once people are not involved actively, they would not be properly represented.
So anytime democracy is not properly represented, it is not the fault of only those in government but also we the people.
Tyranny is “government by a ruler or small group of people who have unlimited power over the people in their country or state and use it unfairly and cruelly”.
A tyrant is a dictator.He uses his power to deal cruelty on his people. People he is supposed to govern over.
In an economic times publication(updated on 5th May,2016), ten most tyrant leaders were listed and one that should be looked at is Adolf Hitler.
Adolf Hitler was born on 20th of April 1889. He is an Austrian born German. He came into politics at the age of 44, ruling as a dictator till he died in the year 1945.
He started the second world war in Europe by invading Poland on 1st September,1939. He is known as being the leader of the Nazi Party.
“Hitlers virulent anti-Semitism and obsessive pursuit of Aryan supremacy fueled the murder of some 6 million Jews, along with other victims of the Holocaust. After the tide of war turned against him, Hitler committed suicide in a Berlin bunker in April 1945.”
A tyrant’s leadership is marked by everything negative and bad. A government where the young people are not interested in the government and just folding their hands will help in tyranny and dictatorship.
There is corruption
“Corruption is dishonest behavior by those in positions of power, such as managers or government officials. Corruption can include giving or accepting bribes or inappropriate gifts, double-dealing, under-the-table transactions, manipulating elections, diverting funds, laundering money, and defrauding investors.”
With youths getting less concerned with the government of the day, weeds start to sprout among the good crops. There would start to arise people without good intentions ruling the country and more and more corrupt practices would be happening. It would not only occur at the top, it would flow down to the bottom. There would be corrupt police officers, corrupt lawyers and doctors. Everyone will be for what their own gain is not caring who is affected. You would have to start giving bribes for what is supposed to be free, and anything not making you not stand up will uproot you. Like a weed taking up the space of the planted crop making it choked up and reducing or stopping its growth.
What can we then do to make youths participate actively in politics?
In a Grazia Daily publication,”Eight Ways to Overcome Political Apathy in this Snap General Election”, eight cogent points were listed which are;
Educate yourself about politicians and policies.
Take responsibility for the country’s problems.
Amid the politics,find the issues that matter.
Apathy creates a vicious circle.
Remember, politicians are humans too.
By not voting, you could fuel a toxic approach.
At the very least,spoil your vote and campaign for electoral reform.
More than a choice, it’s your duty to vote.
From these points, there are some things that can be deduced from waging war against political apathy.
Taking into consideration that young people like to avail themselves with socials, we can educate ourselves by researching what politics is all about. We create an awareness for ourselves and know how this politicking is done. A change cannot be created when the source of the problem has not been identified. A problem known is a problem half solved.
A child is different from a youth or an adult by responsibilities. As a youth we are taught to take responsibility for our actions and a young person of today becomes someone in power tomorrow. There is a need for young people to re-orientate themselves on what the country’s problems are. We all share blame for whatever the country is going through at the time.It is usually said that a person’s future is a calculation of the person’s today and yesterdays.
In politics there are different things that would be trending, leave the unnecessary things and take the ones that are important. Not every discussion on politics is important, learn to seive through and pick your truths.
Apathy brings about more harm than good. It is best to be part of the solution than just leave the problem. There is a neutral ground on this; it is either you are part of the problem or part of the solution. An apathy creates a vicious circle of corruption, bad leadership,god fatherism and tyranny. It would take active participation to break this circle.
We should also keep in mind that politicians are humans too and we should stop being too judgemental about them. If you face a person with accusations instead of suggestions, the person would also try to fight back. Trying to see things from their own point of view would also help.
When we do not vote, we create a toxic approach. The mantra of young people is that our votes don’t count. It makes us so laid back and causes more problems. What is the worst that can happen? We waste our votes.
At the very least, it is best to spoil our votes and campaign for an electoral. Failing forward is the best thing every time. What we do not know is that the more we fail at some things, the more lessons we learn from it and the more we are better equipped for better things. Providence has a way of making things come our way when we persistently pursue it. Thomas Edison got the light bulb at his 1,001 attempt, imagine he had stopped at the 1000 attempt.
Lastly, more than a choice, it’s your duty to vote. All individuals on Earth all have duties and responsibilities in varying capacities. As long as we are citizens of this nation we are meant to vote and we should use our votes to effect a change. Nothing changes without us changing it. Our votes give us that power to effect a change. Let us not sit down and talk! Let us talk and do! Let us get our PVCs and vote. Together we get the change we want. Talk and do!
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- https://www.coe.int/en/web/compass/democracy, last accessed 6/6/22.
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My name is Ojetunde Esther. I am a student of the university of Lagos. I am a lover of books and I love to lend my voice through writing.