We need a new political party. If you’re a Nigerian reading this article, you’re all too familiar with our current political system and its demerits, so I won’t rehash it. For the first time after 4 attempts at democracy, Nigeria finally has a generation of young people born under democracy and have attained the voting age. Many of them voted for the first time in the 2019 elections. Their impact in that election might have been negligible (considering the impact of rigging), but in a country where the median age is 15, the coming election cycles will increasingly be determined by 18-year-olds.
They represent a powerful force that must be tapped politically for the right ends. They are increasingly frustrated. They will be the most educated and exposed generation of Nigerians in a country with no economic opportunities. They are led by 70-year-olds who have no vision for the future. No serious nation should entrust nation-building to men and women for whom death bells are tolling.
If you won’t tolerate a civil servant or a judge serving beyond 70 years, then why should your political leaders be treated differently?
We need a new political party — a youth-based political party, not just in metaphorically, but literally. We should restrict the membership base of this party to young Nigerians between the ages of 15 and 45. Once a member exceeds this age, he will have to resign.
If we are this strict with the membership base of the party, how can we expect the party to scale and attract new members?
That is where people get it wrong. A political party should not be an all-comers affair.
When you try to appeal to everybody, you stand for nothing.
When you stand for nothing, there are no lines.
When there are no lines, there are no scruples.
When there are no scruples, you get the APC and PDP.
You admire the Democratic and the Republican Party in the USA. Any averagely conversant Nigerian can tell you what distinguishes both parties. Why? Principle. Ideology. Their officeholders might not always stick by it, but those values have become so ingrained that the actions of individual members cannot detract from the reputation of the party.
It is time that we stop admiring American and British politics and replicate it here in Nigeria. The political party that I propose will be youth-based in membership, and this will provide for its ideological positions. This party will support merit over federal character and quota systems because most young people honestly don’t give a fuck where their leaders come from, they just want jobs and for the government to get out of their way as they strive to improve their lives.
Will the political party tilt towards the left, or right? I don’t know. That decision will be based on rigorous discussions and debates. Oh, and the ability to debate and defend your position should be one criterion for being a member of the party. Not the depths of your pocket, but the depth of your mind.
Intellect might not be a measure of character, but better an intelligent dictator who can at least defend his actions than an idiotic despot.
Africa’s history is replete with the latter category.
This political party will be elitist in membership, but grassroots in focus. The very best of us will be the flag-bearers. The entrepreneurs, the subject experts, the young civil servants, the corporate workers, the creatives.
This party’s constitution will expressly stipulate that no one who has been an office holder on the platform of the APC and the PDP may join it. The vermin it seeks to fight should not infect it. This party will allow young people to stop being ‘Hallelujah Boys’ and run for office. Forms for running for office will affordably be priced, with the highest being for Presidency, probably around N500,000 to give everyone a chance.
This political party will have a position on all the issues important to all young people — startups, restrictive rules that prevent new entrepreneurs from breaking through, gender equality, LGBTQ, economic development, foreign policy, security, police brutality, etc. I cannot say what the content of these positions will be, I am just one man, but I will say, whatever the party position will be, it must result from rigorous debate and analysis.
How will this be party compete against behemoths like the APC and PDP?
Studying the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010, there is no provision of the law that prevents a political party from engaging in business activities and investments. The only restriction in section 88 of the Electoral Act is that these investments must not be outside Nigeria. The economy might not be in the best of shape, but there are ample economic opportunities that we can take advantage of to raise funds.
Our approach to funding will be that of start-ups. We will raise funds from our members and donations and dues which will be invested in diverse ventures. Sometimes, this political party might even invest in businesses of its members. This shows that the party will require members who have experience in investment management. They will have a legal role in the party. This party will have an official Director of Investments in its National Executive Council. It will have a Creative Director. None of the major and minor parties provide these platforms.
Why settle for the ceremonial position of Youth Leader in the APC or PDP when you can call the shots? Why settle for Women Leader when you can have 50% of the positions?
In other not to overstretch itself, the party will not immediately jump into contesting all offices. We will start from the ground up, from the State Houses of Assembly and Local Government, then Governorship and National Assembly, then ultimately Presidency. All these will happen in different stages, following different electoral cycles, the rate of the party’s growth, and the returns from our investments. If we can register the party before the 2023 elections, I predict that we can complete this gradual revolution by the 2031 elections.
I mean to start this project, slowly but surely. But I cannot do it on my own. I need conspirators. We need media presence. We need foot soldiers. I need crazy people. I need angry, frustrated people. The more Nigeria has frustrated you, the better your credentials to be a member of this party. We need your funds to register the party, establish branch offices in all or most states of the federation. We must not overstretch ourselves trying to carry this out. I suspect it is an intentional tool to compel parties to accept godfathers who can provide the funds.
Why should you support and maybe get involved?
Because you don’t have better options.
If you join any of the major political parties, you must first ‘pay your dues’ to a godfather, hoping he can favour and sponsor you for a position. Even if you go the Seyi Makinde route and fund yourself, that might take a few decades to happen, and Nigeria doesn’t have a few decades to get it right.
If we don’t make critical changes by 2030, we might as well re-convene the Berlin Conference to break up this corporate entity.
We have a climate crisis, a population crisis, an energy crisis, a food crisis, an education crisis, a health crisis, a security crisis. We need at least 6% annual GDP growth to keep pace with our population growth. We know the things that have to be done to achieve the right numbers, but we cannot expect those who created the problems to help fix it.
What will we call the party? I propose it should be the NIGERIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT (NYM), in honour of a previous party that bore the same name and was also youth-focused. The original NYM was founded in 1934 by young Nigerians, many of them in their 20s and 30s, just like us. Without social media or the internet, they built the first nationalist party in Nigeria and it was the second political party in Nigeria’s history and the first multi-ethnic association in Nigerian history. Some of its members were Professor Eyo Ita (Founder), Ernest Ikoli, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Samuel Akinsanya, and many of the heroes of Nigeria’s independence.
This party might not have survived to see Nigeria’s independence, but it provided a veritable training ground for the most genuinely progressive leaders in Nigeria’s history. In the same vein, the new NYM should not last forever (it would be prone to corruption if it lasted beyond its time), but it can and will provide a veritable training ground for the next generation of unsullied political leaders for Nigeria.
If you believe in this and would like to be a part of it, share a link to this post with the hashtag #NigerianYouthMovement