A Party for Nigerian Youth: What Are the Chances of Success?

A Party is poised to overtake others in the country’s political space as young people endorse the Africa Democratic Congress as their party for a new Nigeria project. The party, based on inclusion, diversity principles, transparency and transformational leadership, posit that it now has what it takes to bring Nigeria out of the doldrums.

According to Vincent Anthony Ubani, the head, Nigeria Youth Headquarters, NYCSRF SAFE LIFE, Abuja, “ADC has shown readiness to put forward completely new leadership at all levels and give our youths prominent positions to build a country that every citizen, young and old, and generations unborn will be proud of.

“President Muhammadu Buhari words in 2019 was clear that Youths should wait until 2023 and it is on this words of Mr President that Nigerians Youths Home and Diaspora has been on a strategic joint synergy just to ensure that the formation of the New Nigeria Government of the young generation is totally constituted, ahead of the year 2022 when we gather together in Abuja to hold a National Youth Joint synergy, National Convention and National Youth Summit from all Youths Organizations and Groups in Nigeria.”

Vincent noted that Nigerian youths have come together to adopt African Democratic Congress (ADC) as the party for every youth and young candidates starting from the Lagos State Local Government Chairmanship and LCDAs with Ward’s counsellorship elections in Lagos State, Anambra State and Ekiti State Governorship election.

Indeed, Africa’s political history cannot be complete without appreciating the roles that youths played in achieving the countries’ independence. In the years that preceded independence in virtually every African country, youths were the driving force behind the nationalist activities that led to the dismantling and eventual overthrow of colonialism and the colonial masters.

In Nigeria, the activities of Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, H.O. Davies, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello and Samuel Akintola among others in their 20s and 30s were remarkable. But it is a different story today. Despite growing evidence of youth activism and mobilisation, Nigerian youths are yet to achieve the level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics.

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Pundits opine that leadership deficits, money politics, poor internal democracy among the older parties and an absence of a strategic political agenda pose strong barriers to young people playing remarkable roles in national development. The ADC is however stepping out as a party for the youth now.

In light of this, some have said it is a general consensus that the two major political parties have failed the country, and that this new party for the youth stands a higher chance of edging out the APC and the PDP, particularly in view of the growing calls for youth participation in politics. It is however important to note that in spite of talks of failure, the APC and the PDP have continued to domicile Nigeria’s political turf for years in the face of several other political parties.

Officially, Nigeria has eighteen political parties as the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) deregistered over 75 political parties last year. Prior to the dissolution, the country had a total of 93 political parties. In spite of these numbers, only two national parties are recognised and that is the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The two parties have dominated all Nigeria’s geopolitical zones. Both the APC and the PDP share the state-level governance of all 36 states of the federation. The All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) is the only exception with political authority in Anambra State.

It is noteworthy that the over 75 political parties were deregistered for certain reasons such as failure to win at least 25% of votes cast in one state of the federation in a presidential election or one local government of a state in a gubernatorial vote.

But before the emergence of APC, PDP was a contending force having held sway for sixteen years. It took an alliance of several parties to form the APC and edge out the PDP from central political power. The question is, can a new party like the ADC do the same? Do they stand a chance against the two major political parties that have already domiciled Nigeria’s geopolitical space?

It is important to mention that Nigeria’s politics is exceptionally unique. While in other climes, ideology forms the basis of political parties like the Republican and Democrats in the US, it is a different thing here in Nigeria. The reality is that politics in Nigeria is not governed by ideology. It is largely built on the popularity of personalities combined with some ethnic affinities.

While some have continued to rebuke Nigeria’s political apparatus in this regard, maintaining that it is responsible for the country’s retrogressive state, it is the hard fact and will take some years to change. Ideology has never formed the basis of Nigeria’s politics, as well as the attitudes and disposition of the electorate. It is who is known and who “performs” that is voted for. No matter how sound or educated a candidate might be, he stands little or no chance against a popular candidate or a less popular candidate backed by popular candidates.

This was the case with Muhammadu Buhari before he emerged president. He had made several attempts at the coveted position for a good number of years until the merger of Nigeria’s three biggest opposition parties which brought about the APC. These parties include Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress of Progressive Change, and the All Nigeria’s Peoples Party (a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance and PDP). Politicians who made up the coalition were well known, with household names such as Nuhu Ribadu, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Aliyu Wamakko, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Rotimi Amaechi, and a host of others. It was the popular politicians who made up the new party that Nigerians “considered” when they supported the candidate in the person of Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigerians would rather stick to an Atiku or a Buhari to revamp the country than a less popular candidate from a less popular party. So it takes more than just ideas to gain relevance in Nigeria’s political turf. Popularity holds the key. Popularity in Nigeria is an envelope with diverse content. A blend of some smooth ideology talks and popularity opens any political door in Nigeria. The ADC however stands a chance if it is domiciled by top guns in Nigeria’s political space. Unfortunately, that would mean a recourse to the status quo and the same scenario we have seen play out in Nigeria’s politics which runs counter to the formation of the ADC in the first instance.

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Political analysts and observers have never failed to emphasise that in Nigeria, nobody can emerge to the top of any political position alone. To stay relevant or emerge victorious in Nigeria’s politics, a lot of groundwork and bridge-building has to be done. That is the roadmap for political success. In carrying this out, ADC would have to solicit the support of the country’s political bigwigs to make the needed statement, but that would mean working outside of the party. The top guns could also convince them to join their own party where they could realise their dreams of a New Nigeria Project. This is however a risk as it could equally see the end of the ADC.

Besides, while most political players and stakeholders have backed Nigerian youths as being ripe for politics, particularly with Bawa’s appointment as EFCC Chairman pioneering the way, not many (youth inclusive) believe in the present-day youth as capable of delivering on the dividends of governance.

While some believe the question of responsibility might pose a problem for the Nigerian youth, others insist the players would not be different from the typical Nigerian politician who sees government as a money-making venture. Cases of Student Union General elections that turned violent, with some leading to the death of certain candidates amplify the misgivings. The #FreeAlexSaab campaign that was largely domiciled by Nigerian youth, as well as the part of the #EndSARS movement that was hijacked, equally worsens the question of responsibility. ADC is poised to be a test case, but where it stands in the face of all these perceptions and even more leaves much to bear.

Categories: Features, Politics

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