Following my talk during a live session on a youth platform on Instagram (policy and politics), several young people come to me to ask for recommendations on how to improve youth participation in politics in Nigeria. The best way to recommend something to a person is by providing the benefits of the thing to the person. I thought to share some of the benefits of youth engagement in Politics and on another occasion I will share how to achieve these benefits. I am going to use one of the famous Youth advocate as a case study (Maryam Laushi).
Here are four benefits of Youth participation in Politics in Nigeria.
It will increase your civic engagement
To understand what is going on in politics, you have to talk to the people in your communities and villages, hence, by engaging in politics eventually it will lead you to participate more in the society. However, civic engagement is broader than political commitment because it includes service to the community through involvement in education, charity work and health. Political participation is a more targeted aspect of civic engagement which is expressed through voting, participating in political demonstrations and signing petitions for specific issues.
Political participation makes you a Better Citizen
I don’t like to generalise; however, research has shown that young people who participate in politics in their communities from early on are more likely to become engaged citizens and voters. Just because you get the idea of how things operate from your young age and you find the solutions using a different point of view than the elites who are already in government. Therefore, to have a better “young” citizenship, politics is one of your best tools.
Challenge the status quo for a better system
A typical example we witnessed recently, is the #nottooyoungtorun movement, those behind that advocacy helped in reducing the age limit from 40 to 35 which is not a significant change, however, imagine if a lot of youths come out to talk about issues that are bothering them. Additionally, the younger generation’s fresh ideas and new leadership can help to overcome authoritarian practices in government. Demonstrations led by youth leaders can make the leaders amend the already existing status quo, by allowing these youths to become part of formal decision-making.
Only the Youth understands the Youth
I know there are several issues which the older generations have no idea about and young people face many problems in Nigeria, but these issues are not mentioned or discussed. Hence, since only the youth would understand other young people better, the best way to improve the lives of the next generation is through politics, which is the primary tool used to take action for development across the world.