By Charles Umeh
The year 2014 and 2015 would test the continuation of Africa’s democracy. With Nelson Mandela’s exit, and South Africa going to the polls in May 2014;and the Nigerian electorate spending St. Valentine’s Day 2015 on the queue choosing their next leader, one thing is certain, democratic process in Nigeria and South Africa would be tested fiercely in the upcoming polls come 2015.
April 14 1994, South Africa’s democracy took a global front role as President Nelson Mandela became the first African leader under the umbrella of the ANC (African National Congress). The South Africans have had the ANC in power for twenty years. Public opinion believes the ANC has lived under the shadows of Nelson Mandela. The Democratic Alliance would be giving the ANC a run for their money in the next polls. As the South Africans go to polls, it sure would be an interesting contest to follow closely.
The case in Nigeria is similar in some light. Nigeria’s fourth republic (1999 – present) ushered in a democratic era where the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) have held the power at the center of affairs. With APC (All Progressive Congress) an alliance of political parties similar to the D.A. of South Africa, the Nigerian election would likely be fiercely contested in 2015.
African youth demands from our governments are similar only varying slightly in differences. They are clamoring for participation and the past four years have revealed the tilt in the balance of power towards youth.
The Arab spring in Egypt is a great indicator of this tilt. In 2011, 30 year old Google executive Wael Ghonim with the aid of an anonymous Facebook account mobilized tens of thousands to Tahrir square on a protest of the killing of Kullena Khaled Saeed. Kullena was a28 year old man who died in undisputed circumstances in 2010 after being arrested by Egyptian policemen.The whole world watched the exit of President Mubarak of Egypt through the power wielded by these young minds.
If the effect of the Egyptian revolution was a fluke, I guess the spread and what is now referred to as Arab Uprising (or Spring) and its effect must get your attention! The social media has proved to be a powerful mobilization tool. I recommend Wael Ghonim’s master piece Revolution 2.0. It gives you a glimpse of what the power of an idea can do.
Having lived in Nigeria all my life, I am tempted to believe young people can make a change. With 70% of Nigerian population under age 30, I believe we have numbers to make this change and in politics, numbers is everything.
To get a view of what young people in Nigeria can do to prepare for the election year, I decided to ask how youth can prepare for 2015 election. I have summarized their recommendations. However, this list will be incomplete without your contribution – when you add yours (as comments) and carry out what we advise; we might be a formidable team.
•Educate young teens who are turning 18 years on the power of their vote and why they must let it count. This responsibility goes more to NYSC members for 2014/ 2015 Batch, and youth advocates. You are advised to choose community development projects in this light.
•Registration of voters: Young people should mobilize their peers to register early and get a voters card. Someone should be responsible to inform the public on the number via social media.
•Expose track records of contestants: We seem to be guilty of political amnesia in Nigeria. It would be good if some of us remind electorates of past records of contestants; this would help people make wise choices.
•Join a political Party: When young people join political parties in legions, they count and are able to influence decision making.
• Go social: Be a photo journalist and report all election results with your Smart phone
I might not agree with all the opinions here however they are valid opinions from people and we need many more realistic views and next steps. As we count down to 2015, let us exercise our power of numbers and always remember that “The power of the people is greater than the people in power” Wael Ghonim
Charles Umeh is a life coach who makes impact through his writings and speaking engagements. He is an Alumnus of LEAP Africa Youth Leadership Programme and heads the LEAP Alumni in the South Eastern states. Twitter @CharismaCharles