By Caleb Ijioma
Students and analysts from different institutions in Nigeria have come out to share their views about politics and the way it should be practised in the country.
While speaking to this correspondent, some argued that politics have been left in the hands of old godfathers, while some argued that the youths are yet to wake up to leadership.
Ogunbote Mariam, a student of Abraham Adesanya Polytechnic described politics as a platform for those who can act without conscience. She said that godfatherism in Nigerian politics is a hindrance to youth flourishing in politics.
In her words: “Nigeria politics is a dirty game played by people who can play dirty without bothering about their conscience. Not only are their methods undemocratically correct, but their approaches are also different from the general belief of what politics should be.
“Politics in Nigeria is like Gerontocracy and any youth thinking of bringing a new idea into politics will meet a wall stronger than the Biblical Wall of Jericho. As a student, I can’t go into politics because I am a person who likes do things according to the law without considering Godfatherism and I know for sure that it will lead to my untimely exit from whatever post I might hold.
“As a Nigerian youth, I was beginning to lose hope in our electoral system as well as the process. The process has never been transparent and all-encompassing”. This fear was raised by Adesola Ikulajolu, a student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko
Identifying the menace of some persons determining the victor before the election, he also pointed to the selection based on financial capacity as a restraint to political participation among students in Nigeria.
“One other factor is the moneybag system. It is a race of who has the biggest money. And young ones like does not like that ideology which has kept us in a distance.”
Jeremiah Oluwaferanmi from Ekiti state University said “Nigerian politics is costly for a commoner to practice not to talk of students.
Arguing that time limit due to academic activities hinders students political activeness, he also blamed mainstream political figures for abusing power in youth loyalty.
In his words, “A student from Engineering might find it difficult to combine meeting days, rallies with lectures. This is another challenge student face while participating fully in politics.”
“The reason I might desist from joining politics fully is nothing but the way students are used by politicians for dirty jobs. After running errands for them to attain the position, they forget the institutions those student study to develop and equip with modern equipment. An example is the ongoing industrial action by ASUU. Many students supported the current administration but the government seems not to be responding to the plea of the lecturers.”
Nweke Mary from Federal School of Statistics, Ibadan attributed the political decadence to corruption in the grassroots.
“From the root to the apex body of government, corruption is rampant. The only politicians that succeed must have a Godfather and an average politician strive to eat of the national cake and engage in embezzlement of funds.”
“Nigerian politics generally is rotten. A state where the rich is respected and has more right than average citizens. Even in the Educational sector and on campuses, the dirty game is still in play. Nigeria is bound to endlessly suffer in the hands of the politicians”, she added.
Tunji-Bello Ayomide, a student of Lagos State University believed that active political participation is a vital key to national development. However, he berated the lies in the system as a discouraging factor for him.
“Getting involved with politics is the only way we can get this country up and do. But the kind of politics we run is too dirty and deceitful. I would rather not get my hands into it … But I will continue to help my country in the only way I think I can by voting for the person I think has the best interest of the country”
Speaking with Ehinmowo Ayorinde Francis (JERRY), the Coordinator of Edo/Delta Agenda from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, he condemned the do-or-die nature of political persons which is the major factor for the apathy generally witnessed in the political space.
“Politics is a game of the mature-minded. Taking it as a game of do-or-die affair was the main reason why Nigerians shed more innocent blood on our streets during the electoral process. If election would have turned out to be a free and fair process, it would have been easy to play and the masses would have enjoyed the process in which our political leaders govern the affair of our great nation Nigeria. But because our political leaders buy their way to the office with a very huge amount of money, they also want to gain their money back”.
“Nigeria will remain a failed country if the electoral process refuses to be free and fair. Much innocent blood will still be shed and many of our leaders will keep looting. I love politics but Nigerian politics and the politicians are not helping the matter. I hope to be there someday.”
“To be sincere, politics has been hijacked by political gladiators, only the strong survive the race to the throne. Everybody is doing all that it takes to assume power due to selfish reasons”, this statement is made by Alex Adedamola, a student of Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta. He, however, expressed his love for politics for diverse reasons.
“I really love politics because we can’t do without it, it covers all spheres of life. At the same time, I love politics only if it can be handled by people with great visions and cultivate the mindset of democracy”.
A student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Kofoworola Mobolaji critically explained the concept. She, however, berated the misuse of politics by some persons.
“In politics, the political view is called an Ideology. A political ideology is a specific ethical set of principles, ideas or doctrines believed in by a certain group of people. Those sets explain how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for certain social order from the point of view of the ideology of believers. Political parties base their political action on a certain ideology believed in by their members. Political ideologies mainly work in 2 directions (the goals and the methods). In other words what we are trying to achieve and how are we going to achieve it.”
“Examples for goals are Equality, Freedom etc. Each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best way to govern the country to achieve those goals, including political, economic and social governing systems. But it’s so sad that most of the people going into politics are not putting all these features into consideration.”
Ruth Elohor Ighomrore, University of Benin bemoaned missing ingredients which can foster political participation.
“Politics is the way a group of individuals make decisions,It is the way Countries are governed,It is the way Government make rules and laws.”
“Politics in Nigeria ain’t favourable to the masses, the decisions made are most times not in favour of the masses who have little or no say at all in the country.”
“Rules and Laws are made so there will be Order. In Nigeria, our political leaders seem to be above the law. There is the absence of Supremacy of Law, checks and balance, Press independence and Freedom of Speech”, he added.
Ogunsuji Abimbola, a Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Finalist described the Nigerian political system as immature. Mentioning his interest in politics, he disclosed that he detested impunity in government and corruption which has run deep in the system. He prayed that a political messiah will clean the system soon.
“Nigeria’s political atmosphere is in shambles. Although, we pattern our democracy to that of the United States, personally, I still feel we are immature in following all that such democracy entails. I can boldly say that we are yet to metamorphose into a full-blown democracy. We have sugarcoated our own tyrannic and corrupt military government with the so-called democracy we say we’re practising. In a real term, to me, we are yet to practice democracy.”
“Let me not leave my point unsaid. I love politics and as a young school cert holder then, I wanted to study law and political science. The passion was born out of my uprightness; justice and equity are my strong value.”
“I was born in the middle 80s and was able to witness the Abiola election that year. Though I was small my consciousness was awoken to the military impunity against MKO. As a young boy who fell in love with politics, I followed the matter till MKO died in prison, and also till the death of Abacha. From there on, I built a disdainful passion for politics.”
“The polity and system have been bastardized that it’s even very impossible for ICPC, EFCC and other anti-corrupt body to track and prosecute or jail these corrupt thieves.”
“We understand the authority stealing during the military era, but what can we call the kind of stealing in our democratic time? Every year, they borrow trillions of dollars from foreign countries all to be embezzled by few.”
“As much as I’ll like to be part of police investigative wing, the impunity surrounding these sectors are the pain in the ass. Who knows, a political jihadist may rise up tomorrow to give someone like me a fresh breath of hope.”
While speaking with our reporter, Femi Oke who is a political expert gave his candid analysis on how students can be actively convinced into political participation.
Citing criteria and challenges for any young person aiming for a political office, he said:
“What will limit them is lack of education, lack of focus, commitment, comprehensive strategy, grassroots structure and committed team with realistic goals.”
“For any young person to seek any political office, he must first be educated in politics and in Man-management and he must be a disciplined and determined Person with a Proven Track Record of Success.”
“He must be a People-person with strong effective communication skills able to listen and digest other opinions from both his supporters & Opposition.”
“You must first start by building a Core Team with Specific Goals & Roles. The Power of 10 is a process of starting with a Team of ten and each finding and convincing ten others to follow each of the team and that process continues in a pyramid structure, with all being united by a singular purpose.”
“The Originator must have a Unique & Convincing Selling Point to Calvanize Followers. There must be a List of Attainable Goals with Time Scales and Check/Review Mechanisms to Verify the Status of Attainment of Goals.”
“Politics is a Game of Numbers. If you don’t have the numbers, then you are destined to Fail. In most countries Political parties have a student wing.”
“Student unionism should not be mixed up with politics as it is not based on party affiliation. Student unionism for improvement of student facilities, standards of teaching & education is not partisan.”
“However, student activism of general political issues based on party politics aligning themselves to a particular party, ideology or in support of particular campaigns, legislation or political leader & principles in the interest of a greater united nation is a Patriotic duty that is paramount for students who wish to one day take part in active politics, elected or appointed positions or leading”, he concluded.
Khalifa Musa Muhammad, the Research Officer of Kaduna Youth and Community Development Volunteers further stated the necessity for students to join political parties and actively participate either at the ruling party or the opposition.
“It is important for students to join political parties. These parties form the government or become part of the opposition. So, if students become members of ruling parties they will acquaint themselves with the manifesto of the government of the day and how their lives can be bettered. Also, if they belong to parties in the opposition they will be informed on constructive criticisms that will make Nigeria better.”
“Political parties influence the administration of the state. So it is pertinent for students to be part of these parties. Lest I forget, it’s the students that will be leaders someday so the need for them to be well informed on handling the affairs of the nation can never be overemphasized.”
He further stated that students have cogent roles to play in shaping Nigerian politics. He concluded that the vigour which is associated with youths can help produce a positive result in Nigerian politics.
“Students have a vital role in shaping the political space of Nigeria because they have a large population and politics is a game of numbers. We have a poor political orientation in the country. If students become active in politics they will raise political consciousness in the land and this will help shape the political space.”
“The youth are energetic and this energy should be channelled towards monitoring and evaluation of government programs and policies. Also, the student can shape the political space if they contribute to the performance assessment of those that hold political offices.”