The youths can be a creative force and a dynamic source of sustainable innovation; however they also face issues of poverty, barriers to education, and limited employment prospects and opportunities. In the area of political participation, eligibility for national parliament starts at 25 years old or older. 1.65% of parliamentarians around the world are in their 20s and 11.87% are in their 30s. The average age of parliamentarians globally is 53 (50 year old for female parliamentarians.
There are numerous advantages attached to the inclusion of youth in politics, having charismatic and passionate youths who are politically conscious will foster a rapid growth and development in all sectors of the economy. Also, the youths are better performers in the area of Sensitization and mobilization of the electorate during electioneering campaigns. The vibrancy of youths makes them indispensable in politics as such their inclusion in politics cannot be overemphasized. If this energy is channeled well into politics it will go a long way to affirm their relevance in the polity of their countries.
Another prominent youth that made history based on his vibrancy and passion for a peaceful America was the civil rights activist, Martin Luther King. He made a difference in America several years ago even when very few people shared his vision. It’s on record that he led a historic march in Washington on August 1963, where he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech; emphasizing his belief that someday all men could be brothers. in another instance, in the West African Gaint, Nigeria, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe to mention a few were all youths when they led the struggle for the independence. Their active participation in politics at that time in the country changed a lot of things in the political landscape of Nigeria. Their efforts gave birth to the independence of Nigeria in 1960.
Young people between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population but people under the age of 35 are rarely found in political leadership positions. The main challenges for youth are limited opportunities for effective participation in the decision making process, limited opportunity and exposure to meaningfully participate in inclusive decision making processes, young men and women feel excluded and marginalized in their societies and communities. There is a need for participatory structures and greater trust between youth and institutions and for greater capacity development.
Another advantage of youth inclusion in politics is the access to information. Politics thrives on information not propaganda. With the advantage of the internet and the social media, youth have virtually an unrestricted access to information and this paves way for the sophistication and robustness of their knowledge base. The youths are an asset for sustainable growth and development. It is a fact that the youths are in the productive stage of their lives and they require proper orientation from the adults in order to approach politics with a positive mentality. Youth agencies and civil rights groups have to come in this regard to ensure that the youth make impact in politics and governance.
Youth inclusion in politics becomes a curse when there is a higher population of youth without education in the political system; education is a tool for enlightenment and it must be given utmost priority by our leaders. Likewise, the war against poverty must be in place in order to make youth inclusion a blessing to our generation. In Nigeria today, youths are already aspiring to make a difference because they are much more enlightened. This is the right time for the youth to arise and challenge the status quo of being left to dance to the tune of unscrupulous elders who try to lure the youth into political vices like violence, rigging, ballot snatching, etc without highly educated, highly literate, highly skilled, intellectually brilliant and self-confident youth.
Generally, youths have innovative ideas and are passionate for change in any capacity they find themselves, but the much desired change in the political landscape can only happen if the efforts of the youth are encouraged by the larger society. The youth need to be given a chance to make use of their intellect. The young professionals from various educational backgrounds can make meaningful impacts in the economy by way of contesting for elections and being appointed into political offices. A passion to serve and move their countries toward a sustainable future must be at the centre of their hearts. While there may be numerous advantages of youth inclusion in politics, there are also few disadvantages to youth inclusion in politics. Many youths have been sidelined even though they have what it takes to be change agents in politics. The youth face poverty, barriers to education, multiple forms of discrimination and limited employment prospects and opportunities. The human capacity of any nation really lies in her youths; but because of the aforementioned challenges, many youth are now being used as political thugs in many countries. Educationally disadvantaged youth in the society will surely be a tool for political violence.
Without active participation in politics, a nation is toys with its future, and undermes its existential capacity. The active participation of youths in politics must be seen as a beacon of hope for attaining purposeful and sustainable political leadership and stability.
~comr Ogbole Christopher APC ZONAL YOUTH LEADER BENUE SOUTH ZONE C
19th October, 2022.