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“Three mistakes we must not make”
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“Three mistakes we must not make”

As Nigerians get ready to go to the polls in February, 2019 Olawole Olakunle, 24, a Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, has a word  of caution for young politicians. He argues that there are three mistakes his generation must not make.

Our generation is blessed with some of the best of talents in all stratums of societal endeavours and  I would implore us as young people to look at the blessings and curses of our past leaders,  and avoid the mistakes made.

Since the passing of the #Nottooyoungtorun bill, I have seen a host of young people with little or no political experience in any leadership/political field raise their hopes by throwing in their weight into contest for the 2019 elections. 

It is as a result of the vast increase in the number of young people throwing their hats in the ring for the  coming elections that I am inspired to write this piece, so that alas, we will not fall into the trap of reliving the failures of our past leaders.

The ability to understand politics and society the way it is and not the way it should be is the first and principal step in organizing a society. How then do we organize our society if we do not understand the murky water that lies beyond the rhetoric of #Nottooyoungtorun. Nigeria post 2019 might just be heading towards absolute collapse, if we as a generation, we are not conscious of the mistakes our past leaders make and avoid them.

Of all the mistakes made by our past leaders, making the following 3 mistakes would be disastrous not only for this generation, but for subsequent ones. Hence it’s imperative to take a close look at the pitfalls we must avoid..

Do not repeat the mistakes of 1999

Although successive governments tend to solve the problems of past generations, yet it is obvious that every generation has a challenge to deal with that is peculiar to it. The year 1999 was the beginning of our country’s return to democracy after many years of being dragged in the murky waters of dictatorship, civil war, coup d’etat, and military suppression. It took the intervention of the student community,labor unions, the press, notable young Nigerians,National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and most importantly the death of Abacha to help restore our democracy after over 20 years in military chains.

Our hopes were reignited, as high as the Moshood Abiola’s manifesto (Hope ’93) but unfortunately, after 19 years of return to democratic government, it has become glaring that the democracy we clamoured for is different from our current democratic realities – as some of political realities pre 1999 are still our realities  today .

For example it is unfortunate to see the scholars, unionist, writers, activists, businessmen, and other well-meaning Nigerians who clamored for our return to democracy, shying away from the political scene, leaving Nigerians with no option but to adopt the military hierarchies as our political elite and repackaged politicians.

The blatant mistake of 1999, made unconsciously by capable hands shying away from politics, paved the way for a new political elite composed of old military leaders whose definition of democracy is different from the norm.

To avoid a repetition of such bad history in the wake of the #Nottooyoungtorun, it is important that we take note of the young people who are putting themselves up for leadership. We cannot afford to be dragged back to 1999 in 2019.

Do not attain political offices without clear blueprints

If perhaps you’ve read Abiola’s Hope ’93, you would see a leader who knows the gravity of the challenges/problems on ground and whose manifesto answers all the problem with a designed blueprint.

Unfortunately, we are at a time where consultants produce manifesto (ready-made) for candidates at the right price. 

Over time, we’ve had leaders campaign with different manifestos and agendas in response to  the wailing of the citizens about the matters affecting them, but we have hardly seen a political leader present a detailed blueprint that covers the scope of our problems. 

It would be calamitous for us as a generation to repeat the mistake of getting power without the blueprints of what we want as a generation and how we can solve all our problems irrespective of who becomes what. One of the greatest political leaders of all times, Joseph the dreamer (Biblical Joseph) designed a 14 years economic blueprint for Egypt while in prison that helped salvage the nation from the worst economic recession that was looming ahead.How many Joseph do we have in our political space?

Unfortunately, we might just keep running the political rat race, changing political parties like football club with mouth watering manifesto and slogan, without solution to our ever looming challenges.

Do not fail to address foundation issues that shape the lives of Nigerians

Finally,  past generations either knowingly or not have shied away from having dialogue on pertinent issues that address the foundation of our nation Nigeria. A good student of Nigerian history would understand that at the root of Nigeria’s problems lies unresolved inequalities that affect our  co-existence.

In the quest to play to the gallery, we have became like a wife in an an abusive marriage who wouldn’t complain about the unbearable situation because, the marriage is dear to her.I am afraid that the greatest mistake our generation might repeat is in our inability to dialogue truthfully to address the issues that affect national cohesion.

Our generation must be able to provide answer to the question “What is Nigeria”? The answer to the above question would inadvertently pave the way for the blueprints of a new Nigeria.

I hope that we realize that the reason why we keep our elders close to us is to learn from the very mistakes that limited them.

Photo credit: The Commonwealth’s Asset Bank
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About me:

I am Nigeria’s youngest political party national youth leader, and currently National Youth Leader for KOWA Party Nigeria. A youth organizer and pragmatic leader who believes in the power of down ballot candidates in making any democratic revolution.
I am permanent host for “Morning Rave” a Political discussion that airs on Rave TV.  My book “Too broke to run” is expected to be out soon.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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