Yesterday I bumped into an interesting conversation between these great men, Chinedu Amah and Mtrill Teria and it was first about Atiku and then the participation of youths in our political process. Chinedu touched on some points that sadly represent our reality.
Are we just interested in the election of candidates presented (young or old) by any party or we actually want to be involved in the process of selection of candidates by these parties?
Nigeria has 36 states, every state has local governments and then wards. How relevant is this information? I am from Oyo State with 33 local government areas. My local government, Ogbomosho South, has 10 wards.
Akata – Ward 1
Alapata – Ward 2
Arowomole – Ward 3
Ibapon – Ward 4
Ijeru 1 – Ward 5
Ijeru 2 – Ward 6
Ilogbo – Ward 7
Isoko – Ward 8
Lagbedu – Ward 9
Oke Ola/Farm Settlement – Ward 10
Every party has excos at ward and local government (LG) levels. In some cases, the ward excos can be as high as 10 but the most important positions are;
1. The Chairman
2. The Secretary
3. The Women Leader
4. The Youth Leader.
This is the case for all wards.
There is another level higher than this, which is the LG level where you also have excos drawn from all wards in the LG.
Now how does this concern you?
All politics they say is local. This is where the so called elders, who you claim have hijacked the political process outsmart the rest of you. They understand grassroots politics and will do everything possible to own that structure. You can almost guarantee and I mean 100% that the delegates that will partake in the primaries that will produce the eventual candidate will be from the list of excos at the ward and LG level and that’s where the real issue is. To ensure I get some considerations whatsoever, I would need the control of my ward to start with and then the LG. In my case, that would mean the 4 key positions in my ward and at least half of the remainder. Please note that I am not the only candidate so 40 key positions across the 10 wards is keenly contested for support. The warfare begins.
At congresses, which most of us ignore anyway, they (this would mean folks you call elders) ensure their candidates get the key 4 positions in every ward and then do same at the LG level. Whenever the guidelines for the primaries come up, these people end up as delegates. Now this is the catch.
Before elections, and I mean years before, these politicians set up what they call caucuses where they hold monthly meetings with the would be delegates and locals who would be elected at the congress. This is where financial muscle begins to play out and this also explains why they always want to be in and around any government to have access to funds that will keep the political machinery in place. They hardly worry about the next generation, it is always about the next elections and unlike you, they start from the day the previous election ends. Can you match this funding? If no, are there ways to deal with this financial concern? These are hypothetical questions.
It’s a year to the election, you show interest, pick up forms, attend few ward meetings, my friend, it’s too short a time to buy loyalty. Kindly note that someone has been feeding them years before. Sadly in some cases, the delegates go rogue and stick with the highest bidder but then again, as primitive as it may sound, I saw people being threatened with oaths they took during the last elections, and since poverty and ignorance are in bed together all day, all night, their product is well informed in both, the hopelessness and self imposed helplessness continue. I never knew the potency of oaths had no expiry date, that’s even if you believe in them. Debate for another day.
What do we do? Politics again is local, there has to be some connection with the electorate way before elections. It could come as a message of hope with a very high level of awareness and education or a deliberate, well thought out strategy to break this hold on ownership of local structures utilized in the emergence of candidates particularly in the big parties. This is where all ye youths (intellectuals and strategists) should converge and choose your future. Stop being comfortable with status quo, yes a lot has and can be achieved with social media but we should never ignore the groundworks. That’s the game changer.
Donald Trump was said to have sold Americans their fears, I think our realities are worse. I have kept asking my constituents, what’s the worst that can happen to you?