YOUTHFUL EXUBERANCE AS A TOOL FOR POLITICAL CHANGEMar 01, 2023 02:00PM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe
Header Image: End SARS Prayer Walk, Source: Wikimedia Commons
October 20, 2020 has become a commemorative day for the young people of Nigeria. A day set aside to remember their brothers and sisters who were victims of police brutality. For long there had been widespread complaints over the high-handedness of the Nigerian Police Force who deemed it necessary to violate the rights of people more especially young Nigerians.
Reasons for these violation bordered from the preposterous to the most absurd. Young people only needed to just carry an iPhone, style their hair into dreadlocks, or have a laptop and they could immediately be profiled as a criminal or tagged the popular yahoo boy by members of the Nigerian Police.
This was all the excuse the needed to strip these young men and women of any form of dignity they deserved. So when young people rose up in protest to the continued violation of their rights it became a watershed moment for the Nigerian political landscape. All of a sudden, Nigerian youths had had enough of the years of abuse.
Protest against th Special Anti-Robbrey quad (SARS) in Lagos, Nigeria. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Before the October 20, 2020, there had been peaceful demonstrations all across the country as the Soro-Soke (Speak-Up) generation came alive. But despite the sad events of that day which led to the loss of lives due to the ill-advised manner by which the Nigerian Government handled the growing discontent, the spirit of 20-10-20 refused to be buried in the past.
A sudden awakening has come upon the Nigerian youth who continually nurse a growing discontent with the so called political class of elders who have continually short-changed them at every turn. Offering them nothing but unemployment, multi-dimensional poverty, a non-existent future while still violating every human right accruing to them through the instrument of police brutality, these young Nigerians quite frankly have had enough.
As the 2023 Nigerian elections scheduled for February 25, 2023 draw close, these young men and women over the course of months have questioned everything they have been thought by those whom they deemed as elders. Refusing to be take a back seat in the affairs that affect their lives, they have raised their voices to such high decibels that the much touted political pillars are beginning to rattle.
Like the Arab spring, there is change in the air and everyone can feel it.
Notwithstanding the seeming change that permeates the political landscape of Nigeria, there seems to be a smug cynicism amongst the older generation who believe the younger generation do not have the guts to make the impossible possible. While it seems easy for the so called elders to dismiss this as youthful exuberance that would peter-out over time, what seems to be going for the Nigerian youth is their willingness not to accept anything as their lot in life. Their quest to not make the mistakes of their fathers by speaking up and demanding better for themselves. This is definitely what makes the 2023 Nigerian elections very exciting.
With the numbers being on their side seeing as young people between the ages of 18-45 make up above 70% of the voting population, it is safe to say that young Nigerians are the ones who will call the shots by determining their leaders at the polls.
Indeed, the soro-soke (speak-up) generation are on the verge of writing history.
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