Nigeria Youth: Character Assassination and the Future of Our Republic

By Jerome-Mario Utomi June 5, 2020

Nigeria Youth: Character Assassination and the Future of Our Republic

One glaring views that development experts and of course international community is strongly inclined onto is that any nation desirous of development in the 21st century must redouble its emphasis on education and investment in their youths as the future strength of a nation, depends on the young people. Their generation provides leaders.

At about the same time, the youths of Africa extraction and Nigeria in particular occupy the top striking diplomatic positions and development affairs mid fields at the world stage, but are under attack at home by governments.  It’s disheartening seeing these same youths of ours helplessly relegated to the background in the scheme of political and socioeconomic affairs of our nation. The youths by no fault of theirs are often made to watch the political and leadership affairs of our nation from the political gallery. 

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This loop sided architecture of our political theatre and onslaught against the youths was never by accident but perfectly drawn by our past and current crops of leaders right from independence. Youths on their parts have visibly but ignorantly endorsed this underground plots through their actions and inactions.

The skewed ministerial appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and 2019 which visibly excluded the youths despite his promise in 2015 that he will work with the youths is a very good example that youth’s political highway remain slippery, rough, and riddled with potholes and hopelessness. It also made nonsense of the seemingly gains of the not-too-young-to run campaign embarked on by the youths on July 2017, which brought about the amendment of some sections of the Nations’ constitution to accommodate youths desirous of seeking political or elective positions.

There is another gimmick used against the youths.

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In this clime, “youths are the leaders of tomorrow’’ has become a form of a mantra, a sermon by our leaders that we can describe as a gospel without the truth. They preach this without taking pragmatic steps to develop or design strategies that will help it see the light of the day. The youths in particular are also beginning to view it as a one sided narrative especially when it is coming from our present crop of leaders. It has become an epigrammatic tale that revolves round a particular plot construed around the electioneering campaign, with the sole aim of achieving electoral victory. Particularly, it becomes more of a slogan or anthem for the political parties. It lasts as long as the electioneering period and fizzles out as soon as the winners emerged. Youths are never assured again that they are “the leaders of tomorrow” till the next electioneering campaign. And the cycle goes on and on. This has been the grim fate and burden which successive generations of Nigerian youths have grappled with since 1960.

The youths should not be blamed for their inability to occupy political or leadership positions in the country, be it elective or appointment, but blamed on the nation’s inglorious departure from politics of ideas to money politics or what is currently referred to as the politics of the highest bidder which the youths have no financial muscles to partake in.

But observing the crowd of Nigerian youths that daily fraternizes with “social media with exiting progress’’, the instincts coming from the larger society, coupled with the fact that most of the youths have for the moments lost all fear of punishment and yielded obedience to the power of violence, it became obvious to the politicians that although, the media has great power to educate, create new ideas and promote human relations. But just as an unchained torrent of water submerges whole country sides and devastates crops, even so, uncontrolled use of the social media serves but to destroy.

Hence, not out of love for the youths but based on the consideration that they (politicians) envisage crisis that may nerve and terrify the country approaching in the near future, these sit tight political elders and leaders who claim the wisdom of Solomon as to how to run the polity but are not ready to let go of power or shift political boundaries to accommodate the restive youths came up with strategies/tactics that led to the proliferation of praise singing positions or what is referred to as ‘’Otinkpu’’ in Igbo local palace positions and the youths settled for this option at their disposal.

For most of our political history, it used to be Minister for information, at federal levels, and Commissioners for information (state levels), and Chief Press Secretaries at all levels. But today, exciting progress is being made in this direction. As we now have not Minister for information, Commissioners for information and Chief Press Secretaries but Senior Special Assistant (Media), Senior Special Assistant Media (Technical), Special Assistant (Media), Special Assistant (information gathering), Special Assistant (Print Media) and Special Assistant (Electronic Media), in most of the government offices at both Federal and state levels.

In concept and reality, the shift has without any shadow of the doubt gained momentum. And it’s obvious that media practice in this democratic era can no longer be seen in such a simple and unitary manner, the way it was before May 1999. 

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However, in discussing these proliferations in our democratic space, two sets of reactions come into view.

To some, the development looks good in words but useless in action. Aside from shooting up the cost of governance, it has in their views, evidently manifested that such appointments were never targeted at improving information flow between the government and the governed, But a ploy to settle political jobbers-as Nigerians have in recent years witnessed appointments into such office, people with neither interest in or minimum prerequisite to function in that capacity.

Acting on the basis of the above assumptions, it’s not by any means surprising that the second group-which, of course, constitutes a greater number; argued that these positions in their estimation are but mere robber stamps used to falsely launder the image of public officers without recourse to, or adherence with the ethos of media profession.

In fact, the best-known example and by far the most serious logic, employed by the group to drive their argument home is that; when these so-called media assistants are faced with embarrassing facts about their principals, instead of admitting their boss’s wrong-doing as expected of a well-trained information manager, they fall back on data that is hardly objective, generate inferences that can never be described as explicit. And the conclusion they reach is usually self-serving. What is in some ways an even more brazen is that some of these youths-turned-media assistants’ assassinates character of their principal’s political opponents.

To shed more light, Character assassination according to Wikipedia is defined as the deliberate, malicious, unjustified, and sustained effort to damage the reputation or credibility of an individual, while Merriam-Webster defines it as the slandering of a person usually to destroy the public confidence in that person or an act of lowering one’s character in a bid to ruin the character of others.

Going by the content and lessons from a piece published recently by the IkaWeekly Newspapers Limited, Agbor, Delta state-based tabloid, one point those indulging in character assassination fails to remember is that what people say about others, says a lot about them.  The things you say about others say a lot about you! False allegations are the most chronic form of mental abuse.

Certainly, in my views, if there is a sterling lesson the youths must draw, it is the new awareness that character assassination, thuggery, and other illicit political functions at the polls cannot guarantee a political position. Rather, what guarantees relevant political appointment and position is the possession of a keen sense of independence, self-respect and oneness, and insistence on choosing the right people as leaders during the election.

As illustrations, throughout the period of 2019 general election, the Nigerian youths hobnobbed and romanced these politicians without knowing that our political leaders are experts in adopting the tactics of the coquette.  ‘A tactic that makes the public fall in love with excitement while these leaders remain inwardly detached; while keeping them in control.

If Nigerian youths had during the build-up to 2019 general elections, identified the areas which really hold the key to political success, and applied the right mix of resources, make collaborative efforts and discipline, they should have been able to put themselves in a position of real competitive superiority to enthrone truly ‘democratic, pacesetting and coaching’ leaders.

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