“…And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.” Martin Luther King
Twitter, Facebook – wherever you look, you really cannot escape ‘The Politicians’, their praise singers and their critics. We are all in one of these groups and I do not see this as a bad thing. However, I have noticed that most of these politicians sell themselves to us as ‘have been’ or ‘would be’ greats. Their tweets and updates range from being inspirational to mind-numbing.
While it is true that only a small percentage of Nigerian youths are on social media sites, social media remains a powerful tool and its potency should not be underestimated. President Jonathan in a way successfully exploited facebook during his presidential campaign. Despite the fact that another election would not be held for another three years, past and future aspirants are coming out from every corner. Before you know it, 2015 will be here. They know that they have their work cut out for them as the #occupyNigeria protests have stirred people up and Nigerians are becoming more interested in what their leaders are up to.
I am here to say, do not lose your minds people! It is time to get out of self pity; it is time to forget the noise; it is time to THINK.
Politics has a big role to play when it comes to changing the deplorable state of Nigeria. As youths, we cannot let the opportunities of getting our voices heard slip by. This is the time to ask questions. Fighting each other is not going to bring about change. Respecting others and giving everyone the chance of calling for the change they want to see would be more productive. We cannot all have the same interests - a business man whose deep desire is to see a break in taxes should not belittle the housewife whose wish is to see a drop in prices of basic products like food.
Do not get swayed by clichés and rhetorics. Do not go with any 'do as I say and not as I do' leader. Being against the ruling party is not enough. It would get us nowhere. What would be our gain when we elect the ones clamouring for change and they turn out to be no different from the ones they replaced? If integrity is important to you, judge on that; if yours is leadership experience, you are well within your rights to base your assessments on that. Ask questions respectfully. Credible leaders will take time to teach and educate others about their positions on different issues.
I believe that the fact that someone has an amazing track record when it comes to providing certain amenities such as education does not mean we should discount their abysmal records relative to other issues such as healthcare or even human rights. Judge aspiring leaders by results - what they have done with what they were given is a credible measure of what they will do with whatever it is we are going to give them. A former local government chairman who tarred one out of ten roads failed! Parents would never praise you when your report card has 10% in it. Social amenities are our rights. No government official is doing us favours by doing what they were elected to do.
When we study more developed countries, it is easy to see that 'RESPECT' is a big deal. President Obama, David Cameron and the likes do not go around insulting people. Ones who let their anger get the best of them issue apologies. We have issues with defining our self-worth and rights. The person who talks to you condescendingly is not one for you to hero-worship. Self-esteem and confidence are totally different from pride. Over-inflated egos should have no place in true and sincere leadership. People who do not see you and me as worth their time when they are not yet in power would never have our time when they get into power. Remember, leaders are there to serve us.
Do not get shouted down. You are as Nigerian as every other person and it is well within your right to choose who you want. We are all unique and decisions made by leaders would affect each and every one of us.
Fighting, cynicism and labels help no-one. We all have causes that we are passionate about, be it charity, education, politics etc. It is our responsibility to present others with the best. I implore the people who are passionate about politics to not be close-minded. Do not feed Nigerians with just anybody, search out politicians that you know are true to their causes and introduce them to Nigerians. The eras of colonialism and slavery are over but we are still enslaved by our minds and the things that we choose to accept.
Do not stop asking questions.
You have a voice.
Share with as many as you can :)