By Ejike Onuogu
AS the Anambra State election of November 6, 2021 approaches, youth empowerment must be our mantra and must re-define our body polity if we must take our beloved state to a new level of global competitiveness. Anambrarians, like their counterparts in Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia states, have a shared heritage and history. Their journey over time has been captured in the reflections of Elizabeth Kubler Ross, when she said: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of those depths.”
Since the end of the civil war, the Igbo nation has struggled to formulate a cohesive bargaining chip formatted and championed by unadulterated representation with a nationalist vista. The failure to bridge the gap between the old and the new explains why our current ambassadors have not projected the unified agenda of our pre-colonial nationalists who invested heavily on youth empowerment in keeping with the doctrine that the child is the father of the man.
The re-birth of any nation or state must take into consideration the core fabric of that nation and whether its foundation was formulated on faulty pedigree. Without this backbone, the foundation of such nation is on hollow ground, and it will only be a matter of time before it caves in to the shearing forces of global scrutiny. Youth empowerment is not a grandiose delusion; rather it is sine qua non in the existential pursuit of regular order in our body polity. In other words, it is the foundation stone of the re-birth of a broken nation where there has been a cyclical endurance of pouring new wine into old skin until the latter gives up the ghost.
Youth empowerment is not about the emergence of a ragtag army of hoodlums usurping the affairs of a nation by hook or crook, and holding a generation hostage by invoking the power of clandestine tactics and other dark practices. The unfortunate end result is a society in stagnation, with no strategic agenda, a society bereft of effective policies and practices designed to lift itself out of a hellhole of bureaucratic ineptitude.
In reality, elections are designed for people to cast legitimate votes to support the emergence of a representative government of the people at local, state or federal level. Elections are designed to be seamless with an electoral commission overseeing the process. Nigerians have watched with awe the systematic erosion of clarity in this process and the deviation of the electoral commission from being an independent umpire to being an extension of one political party and more specifically the party in office.
Unfortunately, for decades now, the Nigerian electoral system has been turned into a charade filled by men and women with no scruples, individuals who put the self first and the people last, men and women who have no iota of love for their country but would rather pledge allegiance to a sectional ideology just to come to political attention.
Nigerians mourn the current political process and rightfully so because it seems we now ride into town on the back of the old horse wearing the banner: “The end justifies the means”. It no longer matters whose ox is gored. What is equally sad is that the Senate no longer holds the executive accountable for any matter of national interest, including the wave of extrajudicial killings taking place across the country, which is now spreading like an inferno. The Senate seems to have forfeited her power of oversight given the suggestion that her membership is morally compromised.
Among many Nigerians, the question that keeps popping up is whether the Senate is now a retirement home to most state governors in that there seems to be an established trend of transitioning from the Government House at state level to Senate once the second tenure is completed, and then re-cycling as ministers in a popular acronym called GSM.
Looking back at history, it seems the emergence of the current political theatre was made possible following the fall of the Second Republic when the Nigeria currency was artificially devalued to create unsustainable economic hardship and so forced the elite of our society into economic exile. The vacuum created by their exit was surreptitiously occupied by what we now find to be our current representation and which has raised many unanswered questions.
Why did the Zikist Movement fail to hand over the baton of leadership to a prudent group that would have continued their policy of collective nation building? Does this explain why we don’t have any sequential and time-weighted developmental plans like other leading countries of the world? Nigeria can boast of the most educated individuals in the world today. However, this has not translated into any positive development for the country. Could this be that we have not looked inwards to believe that we can also export technology to the rest of the world?
We churn out engineers every year: chemical, agricultural, electrical, mechanical, electronic, petroleum, yet we cannot harness their expertise in nurturing a Project Development Institute that lays the foundation for small scale industries, and so pave way for a vibrant “made in Nigeria” technology that is appreciated by the rest of the world.
It is a shame that the Nigeria’s healthcare delivery system is in shambles. The current healthcare apparatus is not only lacking in inventory, it is lacking in infrastructure, accessibility and sustainable personnel. The answer lies in the fact that no nation has achieved meaningful and sustainable growth without carrying the youth along.
Whenever the youth of any nation is suppressed, the heartbeat of that nation dies, and so goes the soul of that nation. Youth empowerment is a pathway to sustainable economic growth, recovery of a landscape lost to time, inertia and inattentiveness. Youth empowerment is a form of leadership and a time-sensitive revolution in the pursuit of a virile and vibrant state. To awaken the consciousness of the youth is a call to duty.
In short order, we shall no longer accept parcels of food and money so as to mortgage our conscience and sell our votes to the highest bidder. As Peter Drucker put it: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked. Leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” Therefore, the upcoming November 6 election in Anambra State will be a referendum on the survivability of youths all over Nigeria. The youths of Anambra will once more be provided with an opportunity to take their destiny into their hands and use the power of voter franchise to change the trajectory of governance in the state.
Short of using the power of ostraka to send into exile all the bad moles that have eaten up our society, they should adopt the positive dimension of introducing a pragmatic leadership; one that will welcome the youths aboard the new ship that once at sea will carry the people of Anambra and by extension, the Igbo nation, across a void of ocean of opportunities for a new beginning and a predictable future. Indeed, this would be the moment that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India spoke about on the eve of independence of the state of India:
“Long years ago, we made tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge…At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” In the same vein, may it be said that on November 6, 2021, when our youths decide that the day has come to take their destiny in their hands, Anambra State will awake to life and freedom.