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For  The Nigerian Youth, 2023 Is A Defining Moment.

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By Dakuku Peterside

Will 2023 be a defining moment for  the Nigerian youth and the future of Nigeria? Obviously a slippery question that deserves attention. The most recent Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) voter registration data suggests that youths have a historic role to play in the forthcoming election. They have an incredible demographic advantage and, if they choose, can decide the outcome of the election in any way they deem favourable to Nigeria.

However, the crucial rhetorical question to consider is: will Nigerian youths constructively deploy this demographic power to influence the outcome of the elections and redefine the future of Nigeria, or would they sacrifice it on the altar of immediate convenience of primordial sensibilities of ethno-religious sentiment, political party affiliation, and economic considerations? The youths are the most powerful voting bloc by number, and  ironically they seem unaware of the power they have to  decide the fate of power strugglers and reshape the political landscape of this country to the way they want. Achieving this requires the youths coagulating into one potent and unique power bloc in the Nigerian firmament.

INEC recently released updated voter registration data showing the distribution by age group. The data revealed that 37,060,399 registered voters constituting 39.65%, are youth between the ages of 18 and 34; 33,413,591 (35.75%) are middle-aged persons between the ages of 35 and 49; 17,700,270 (18.94%) are elderly voters between the ages of 50 and 69 while 5,294,748 (5.66%) are senior citizens aged 70 and above. If you chose 39.65% or 75.4%, assuming you extend the definition of youth to age 49, it is a demographic you must recognise. Nonetheless, we shall restrict ourselves to ages 18 to 34 as a youth for this conversation.

 

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This age group still made up about 40 percent of the registered voters and, if properly mobilized, can tilt the balance of political election outcome to whom they choose. The key to achieving this lies in mobilizing youth to participate in voting. And articulating their voices into one coherent voice in support of a political ideology and ideologues who they believe will not only stem our slide into perdition but will also radically change our fortunes – repositioning Nigeria into a country that harnesses its great potential for the benefit of all.

Judging from historical antecedents, achieving this is a herculean task requiring more than any candidate or party is doing now in their campaigns. Our youths are more open to the political process than we have thought of in the past. They have always participated in the political process by joining political parties, participating in election campaign activities, engaging with parties and government officials, and engaging in communal activities with political ramifications.

Political candidates recognize the nuisance value of some young people that during elections, the de facto youth leaders are the toast of every candidate and mobilize them into a dangerous and sinister team ready to die to do the bidding of their masters by scattering the electoral process or defending it depending on what their transducers require of them. However, the youth participate less in the most critical aspect of the electoral process – voting. Herein lies the conundrum, how can youths influence the country’s leadership when there is enormous voting apathy among them, and the few that vote are not coordinated to vote en bloc to influence the outcome of elections? What a waste of political power. Little wonder youths have no say in the governance structure and the dictum “youths are leaders of tomorrow” seems nonsensical in the Nigerian parlance because the past leaders are still the present leaders, with youths refusing to fight for power.

The political landscape has indeed changed in the past 3-4 years. This change has been perpetuated by the combined forces of technological determinism brought about by the deepening of the internet and its effect on online participation in political activities; the harsh economic conditions of the country that impacts negatively in a significant way on the youths, the higher civic enlightenment, and a massive appetite for change in the country. These forces are unleashing a great revolutionary spirit among the youths and opening them up to becoming interested in the political process.

The 2023 election campaign is quickly becoming a social media event where a bulk of young people have seized the narrative and are forcing their voices on all and setting the agenda for a political campaign in most instances. Although very pungent to youths’ political emancipation in Nigeria, such engagement in social media among the youths is not seen outside the social media in the real political space. However, it is generally too early to conclude how this will affect youth voter turnout and voting patterns. Many of our youths are outside social media which is dominated mostly by urban youths. How are these youths mobilized and sensitized when they are cut off from the active and vehemently visceral social media youths?

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What is known is that enthusiasm has been high among the youth since the “EndSars movement” period, but political consciousness to drive change is insufficient. This may be disappointing to candidates whose electoral thematic thrust and strategy are to galvanize the youth to vote for them. The youth are still not united by consciousness but mostly by poverty and social malaise in the land.  We only have a few weeks before the elections so it seems to be a tall order to turn the tide, but in politics, nothing is impossible. Only time will tell how the pendulum will swing regarding youth voting and its impact on the election.

Harnessing the enthusiasm among the youths is easier now than ever. The reason is that they are getting the brunt of the critical issues plaguing Nigeria. They feel the heat and understand now why it is essential to rescue the country from the brink of collapse. They are beginning to link their myriad of problems to poor leadership. These problems include mass unemployment, but critically massive youth unemployment is crippling many young people; national insecurity; poor quality education from primary to university with ASUU strike a common feature of university education in Nigeria; endemic corruption; and dearth of economic opportunities. These issues stop people of all ages, primarily youths, from fulfilling their potential.

Unfortunately, but true, youth issues are not on the front burner in the discourse leading to this election. Youth issues are given secondary attention or mention and do not constitute key campaign issues. The campaign has been mainly about personalities and less about issues. Youths seem to have fallen back on their default setting of political party, religious, and ethnic affiliation. After the “EndSars saga”, Nigerian youths seem to have lost the Patriotic spirit that defined them.

Because of the fallback affiliation mood, the tendency to vote en bloc is minimal or completely lost, and this is my fear that the youth demographics may mean little after all. They are incurably fragmented along different lines to the benefit of the orthodoxy, which is not about their interest. And they are not making a demand on the candidates and political parties on issues of concern to them.

A dichotomous pattern between youths in the south and those in the north, informed by varying levels of education, different levels of opportunities, and civic culture, is evident. This divide has meant that although there may be a commonality of experience between youths from both divides, their modus operandi in electoral and political engagement differs. This difference also exists between youths in urban areas and rural communities. How to bridge these gaps has been a nightmare. This is more so for those championing youths’ ascendency in the political firmament of Nigeria. Most urban youth in Nigeria are using social media networks to engage in political participation. However, it is known that there is a weak or no correlation between online and offline political participation. The only way the Nigerian youth can translate their demographic advantage to tangible influence is to come out and vote and vote in a way that will shape the kind of future they want. Youth in other countries have done it at different times. Young people must take advantage of this opportunity to reshape their country.

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Voting gives youth the power to influence decisions. Youth disenchantment with governance in Nigeria will become an empty threat if a critical mass does not vote and does not express a clear preference for a secured future. Disjointed participation by Nigerian youth will dash the hopes of those who wish to see fundamental changes in the landscape.

Nigerian youth can significantly impact the outcome of the 2023 elections if they are intentional about what the future means to them. There are instances in another clime when youth influenced electoral outcomes. Perhaps the most well-known is former US President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and election, which was driven by young people. In another example, the term “youthquake” was used in the United Kingdom after young voters saw British Labour Party deny the Conservative Party an expected majority win.

Since it worked elsewhere, we hope it will work in Nigeria too. I call on all youths to roll their sleeves and get to work in this 2023 elections. Get your PVC and vote for the candidate of your choice.

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Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States

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The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.

The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.

In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.

Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”

“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.

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“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.

“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”

Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”

 

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CRIME

Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life

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Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.

Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”

Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.

The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.

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While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.

According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.

The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.

“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.

“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”

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Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.

Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.

The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.

Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).

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Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks

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The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.

The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.

Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.

CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.

Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.

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DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.

She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.

Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.

Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.

Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.

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ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.

CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.

CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.

The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.

CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.

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  • Source: Independent

 

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