The my-crowd-is-bigger-than-yours gesticulation of the politicians in the ongoing campaign rallies is an orchestrated insult on the corporate sensibility of the average Nigerian youth. Pretentiously, the victim has chosen the ignoble path of looking the other way, feigning ignorance of this glaring fact, ostensibly blinded by the mess of portage thrown to him by his oppressor.
With the unemployment rate in Nigeria put at 23.10 percent in the last quarter of 2018, from 22.70 percent in the second quarter we should ordinarily be worried by these mammoth crowds that populate these political rallies. What it implies is that tens of millions of people are out of job. Irrespective of where these crowds are found, East, West, North and South, there is a common trait among them. They’re mostly energetic youths between 18-40 years who should be busy at work or their places of business at the moment these rallies are held.
Expectedly, these political actors have decided to feast on it as a show of their popularity. Really? Who would want to jump out of the banking hall where he works to attend a political rally by 11am? Which insurance company worker will leave the client before him to attend a political rally at 12noon? Which airport or factory worker will abandon his duty post to engage in a business of rabble rousing in a football stadium? Obviously none. These are mostly young men and women who have no job doing, which sadly the politicians have shamelessly decided to gloat over. Their deeds are waiting for them.
According to Human Rights Watch about 1, 000 were killed in the political violence that greeted the 2011 general election in the Northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Relief officials estimated that more than 65,000 people were displaced. “The April elections were heralded as among the fairest in Nigeria’s history, but they also were among the bloodiest,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. In 2015, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kogi and other states in the South West also recorded electoral violence.
Instructively, the planning and execution of these violence would not have succeeded if not the willful and voluntary self donation offered by the youths. Or would any right thinking person say these violence were perpetrated by frail old men and women who have just a bar to their final journey? Or were they carried out by children who are not even of the voting age? Or better still, by the ghost of our forefathers whom we have refused to appease? Our youths cannot be extricated from such unpatriotic, unnationalistic activities. They are part and parcel of it.
To even assume that these politicians whose agenda our young men fight to protect have little or nothing for them in stock the moment they ascend office makes the entire episode sickening. This, again has birthed myriad of insecurity challenges in our country, hence these political foot soldiers are dispensed into the society without proper disarmament program. Whatever becomes of them after these political festivities, those who armed them do not care. They become a national headache to the rest of us as they go on orgy of mayhem. This scenario has been linked to the birth of boko haram.
One would have thought that our youths by now should learn from history. No politician uses you today and remembers you in his cake sharing table tomorrow. It is high time we start telling ourselves the home truth. Youths who allow themselves to be used as tools for destruction are not only doing our dear country a whole deal of disservice but their family members and themselves. The question we must ask ourselves before accepting our employment letter of such nasty jobs, the politician recruiting me, where is his own children? Are they part of the tools stationed to go risk their lives in the selfish interest of a politician who forgets you like the puff of a cigarette in the air, the moment you’re gone?
Why are our youths readily available for any hatchet job at the drop of two coins? Does unemployment take away one’s engine of sound reasoning and common sense? Sen. Ben Bruce may give us some clarification here. Today, it is a common scenario to see a procession and counter procession go on simultaneously. In fact, it is a recurrent decimal. The recent case of CJN where two opposing protesters almost clashed in Abuja is still fresh in the memory. The number of protesters on each side depends of the number coins available and not really on the agenda, subject or conviction. Some people go on a protest without knowing what they are protesting.
With barely ten days to the 2019 elections, our youths must resist the temptation of being used as tools to disrupt the electoral process and jeopardise our democracy. No matter how the devil pushes and entices you, resist him and he shall flee. Our parents and guardians must consistently remind their children and wards this message and never allow it depart from their mouth.
It is heart warming to note that top entertainers and influential opinion moulders in our country have been at the forefront of campaign against violence during elections. Our young ones must have this message sunk into their skulls. They must be told that if they die while engaging in electoral violence, they die for nothing, apologies to Fela.
We have for a long time been relegated to the background, if not subjugated under the table. They have refused to give us job, hospital, good road, potable water, good education, decent housing, efficient transportation system, security and all the indices that make life more liveable, which paradoxically, they have in excess. So why should we fight for them? People of my generation, let’s shine our eyes and shun all forms of electoral violence. Life has no duplicate. Our mumu don do.
Enemanna is an Abuja based journalist.