2015 General elections: Why Nigerian Youths Should Avoid Merchants Of Hate

(By MustafaYusuf-Adebola)

Nigerian youths must wake up from their slumber. My focus is constrained to them because available statistics in terms of population show they have a large impact in determining who wins elections. It is unsurprising that in the build up to the 2015 elections, the older ones are now “drumming up wars for young ones to fight and die in”. Nigeria has been through a lot in her nearly 100 years of amalgamation–to destroy is easy but to rebuild never is.

SOMEONE I considered an intelligent youth published a Facebook post of the list that had gone viral of the executives of a political party which had nearly 90 per cent of these executives belonging to a particular religion. This friend of mine went on quoting some ‘leadership quotes’ to express his disappointment on the supposed ‘marginalisation’ and I had to enlighten him that he came late to the tea-party as regards this issue.

  Sometimes I wonder – if the youths of today were enfranchised during the 1993 elections, would they have withdrawn from the process because the two main contenders belonged to the same religion? These days, I am alarmed at how ethnocentric jingoists have permeated the mindset of the Nigerian youths. It is bad enough when the religion card is thrown to the uneducated and they make biased decisions, it is worse off when the supposedly educated ones further promote this weapon used by politicians to buy votes and cause (avoidable) rancor. Ethnicity is now being championed at the expense of democracy.

  Undoubtedly, bad governance has fuelled our hatred so much that adherents of a religion see one of their followers in government as theirs only and non-adherents as outsiders in a country that has no official religion. I understand that one can get sentimental when a follower of his/religion is contesting for a post or is in government but this sentiment must not becloud our objectivity of doing things right. Some time ago, I attended the inauguration ceremony of a governor in this country and the cleric unabashedly told participants that the governor won the election because he chose a running mate from his (the cleric’s) sect and the losing candidate chose a running mate from the same religion as his. The cleric further revealed that he admonished followers not to vote for the losing candidate due to this bias – “no one can win in this state without our support” he boasted and chided the losing candidate for his naivety in not realising this.

   Corruption is a major problem in this country; corruption itself knows no ethnic group or religion, yet some so-called leaders employ ethnicity and religious sentiments to cover up their corrupt practices. Are youths happy to be what Lagbaja terms “mumus” (foolish people)? Isn’t it rather ironical that politicians can forget their differences in sharing the ‘national cake’ but the people are encouraged to hate each other?

   Nigerian youths must wake up from their slumber. My focus is constrained to them because available statistics in terms of population show they have a large impact in determining who wins elections. It is unsurprising that in the build up to the 2015 elections, the older ones are now “drumming up wars for young ones to fight and die in”. Nigeria has been through a lot in her nearly 100 years of amalgamation–to destroy is easy but to rebuild never is. If we go our separate ways, we will still remain neighbours to our perceived enemies just as Sudan is to South Sudan. Even amongst the major ethnic groups, we’ve had so much intra-tribal wars. Till today, some families are yet to recover from the effect of the civil war.

  This is not a utopian posit – I admit that there is so much injustice in the land but we must learn to manage our diversity through objective diagnosis of issues instead of fanning the embers of hate.

   For every war, dialogue still resolves the conflict. There’s so much to gain from harnessing our diversity than exterminating it. These hate propagandists forget that some of us are products of inter-ethnic cum inter-religious marriages Nigeria has had to offer us.  A country that wants to progress learns from its history and avoids the mistakes made in the past that could further plunge her development downhill.

   Nigerian youths; quality education is already being denied to them today because these mischievous people know how much they can ‘benefit’ from their ignorance. There is a need to understand where to table reactions instead of castigating entire tribes or religion just because of the actions of a few people. Every ethnic group has its good and bad people–“there are only two kinds of people in this world. Good §people who do good deeds. And bad people who do bad. That’s the only difference in human beings, there’s no other difference.”

   The enlightened ones have a task to spread this message of positive development instead of these aggressions. Nigeria’s diversity in terms of religion and ethnicity must be respected. Borrowing Ahmed Sani’s words in a recent interview; “If a party presents a candidate and you don’t like him, you vote him out. It is not by shouting: No, I want a northerner, I want southerner, I want Ijaw and if the Ijaw man does not win, hell fire will come, if a northerner is not president, the country will break. Let us follow the constitution, let us follow the democratic channels and express our opinions, some of these pronouncements are just overheating the system, creating unnecessary enmity.

   Next time that man, politician, candidate, cleric or what-have-you preaches hate to you, avoid him or her for those who bring to us hatred and spite never have constructive contributions to make to the work of this world but its opposites.

  “O God of creation . . . Help our youths the truth to know.”

• Yusuf-Adebola wrote from Ogudu Road, Lagos.

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”

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