It is less than 23 months before Nigerians will once again go to the polls to elect their political office leaders in an election that is already touted as the most important election in Nigeria’s history. Political watchers and analysts postulate that the 2023 general elections will either break or mar Nigeria; that is, it will ultimately determine the fate of the country and its about 200 million citizens.
So much is at stake such as Nigeria’s unity, which region should produce the next president, who should be Nigeria’s president, restructuring, and so on. Unlike in 2015, when the choices before Nigerians were either APC or PDP, the choices ahead of the 2023 elections are plethora, unique and diverse in their ways. The unemployment rate in the country has shot up to 33.3% from 27.1% in the second quarter of 2020. What this means is that over 69 million able Nigerians are unemployed. The combination of a bulging population of unemployed Nigerians and soaring prices of commodities in the market has
brought untold hardship to the citizens. Job creation is very critical to the economic prosperity of Nigerians at this time. The mood of Nigerians towards the current administration, which has been tainted with accusations of nepotism, incompetence and insensitivity, has been nothing short of disappointment and dissatisfaction. The economy has refused to blossom, job opportunities have plummeted and unemployment soars, high levels of insecurity, rising ethnic and religious tensions, massive corruption, etc have made it all imperative that Nigerians must make conscious choices to restore Nigeria’s stability and growth in all sectors. Also in contention, in addition to competence and capacity, is the youthfulness of the president. Recent debates about the actual age of the national leader of the All People’s Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he marked his 69th birthday in the city of Kano, is a clear indication that Nigerians will vote an individual who is not only competent but also has age on his/her side. It is not surprising that the age of a man who has been rumoured to be
courting the presidency in 2023 can be of public concern. This is because the tedious responsibilities of a president befit someone of a younger age who still has lots of energy in-store; someone who is innovative and a creative leader.
One of the most important choices before the country is either there are deliberate efforts to strengthen the unity of the country with a shared purpose or allow it to continue to wallow in religious, ethnic, and partisan infractions. Should the eventual choice be strengthening Nigeria’s unity, then the country must be restructured as a foundation towards unity. The actualisation of these choices hinges greatly on the political participation of young people. Participation in the political process gives opportunities to individuals and groups to effect the changes they want to see or influence policymakers to effect those changes. This is the work that an organization like Raising New Voices has been doing with young people across the country to ensure youth participation and inclusion in politics and governance.