by Emmanuel Addeh
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, has asked young people in Nigeria to actively participate in politics and help reshape the future of the country.
In his opening remarks at the first “Elevating Youth Voices Virtual Summit”, hosted by the Institute for Governance and Economic Transformation (IGET), Moghalu argued that the youths should no longer be indifferent while the nation continues to deteriorate.
He stated that all the indices indicated that the future was looking bleak, with unemployment rate at 33 per cent and 40 million young Nigerians still unemployed or underemployed.
Quoting from recent national statistics, Moghalu stated that currently about 100 million Nigerians live in extreme poverty, while the United Nations demographics recently projected a population of 400 million by 2050.
“What does the future hold for our young people who make up nearly 70 per cent of Nigeria’s population? That future is now, and you must colonise it and shape it for the better,” he said.
Moghalu reminded the summit participants that while peaceful protest remained an essential right in a democracy, it cannot replace the importance of voting in elections as a way to create lasting change by electing more competent leaders.
The former presidential candidate recalled the Arab Spring protests that were driven by social media, but said that the gains of the demonstrations were lost because the youths did not seize the opportunity to actively take part in elections.
“A decade later, the social and economic conditions of the Arab youth are worse now than at the time the protests swept through the Arab world.
“That’s because the Arab youth failed to take the energy of the Arab Spring into structural politics by joining political parties, voting in large numbers for candidates of their choice, and standing as candidates. This left the old guard in these countries still effectively in charge,” he argued.
Also present during the event were activists, singers and actors, including Jude Abaga (MI), Kate Henshaw, Regina Askia-Williams and Joseph Benjamin, as well as #EndSARS activists Sandra Ezekwesili, Rinu Oduola, Catherine Obianuju (“DJ Switch”) Udeh, and technology lawyer Timi Olagunju.
In his comments, Abaga noted that Nigerian youths can no longer afford not to use their platforms to push for for change.
He added: “Just because someone knows how to manipulate the elections doesn’t mean they will be good for us. Today, I can see how the ignorance of our young people about how elections are won affects the quality of our lives”.
On her part, Henshaw, a leading Nollywood actress, noted that it was time to move beyond complaining on social media to taking action at the grassroots.
The quarterly summit, according to the organisers, had over 1,000 participants from Nigeria, South Africa, Canada, France, United Kingdom, United States and other countries.