Ifeanyi Michael Onwuachu is a young Nigerian entrepreneur and activist. He believes the participation of young people in politics holds the key of our freedom as a people. He spoke to the media about the just concluded general elections.
How would you rate the participation of young people in the 2023 electioneering?
The level of participation of youth in the 2023 election is quite commendable. From registration,to voter education , campaign , mobilization and even the election proper,young Nigerians controlled national conversations leveraging on the digital spaces.
On registration alone, out of the 9.4 million newly registered voters, 7.28 million or 76 per cent of them are young people. Again,you talk about the level of innovation that was brought to bear on the entire electoral process.The participation was quite massive and commendable.
What does that Participation portend in future elections?
Even though the voting process might have been flawed, I think there’s this level of consciousness by young people about what is happening in the country and are now aware about the power they possess. They are equally beginning to come to terms with the dictum, ‘the power of the people is greater than the people in power’.
Things might not have gone the way everybody expected ,but trust me they’ll put pressure on the system for an improvement and you’ll watch them lead the way with innovation. They might seem disenchanted,but I trust they’ll re-strategize and come out better. I have seen the things young people do in the other industries and believe they can change our politics which they have started.
What actually do you think is the anger of these young people?
Their anger stem from lack of accountability in the system, consistent bad governance at every level, the very fact that Nigeria runs a system that oppresses its own. A country where incompetence sits in judgement over merit. A country that has elevated irresponsibility and impunity to an unimaginable high. Nigeria has turned to one massive grave for great dreams and politicians are bent on seeing that our future get destroyed. If I may quote Chinua Achebe, they have lost the 20th century and are bent on seeing that we loose the 21st century. God forbid.
In what possible best ways do you think Nigerian leaders can begin to assuage this anger?
We need empathic leaders. We need leaders who will inspire the nation. Leadership is not about building flyovers and roads. A leader must be able to inspire citizens to move out of their way. A leader inspire people into patriotism and that is when nationhood begins and people are willing to put forward their talents to the benefit of everybody. We have got huge talents that can take Nigeria to the first world ,but people are not inspired and that is why the very best of us are leaving the shores of our country.
What greatest lesson would you say you have learnt from the election?
That the power of the people is greater than people in power. Truth is that anyday we all wake up and decide that we have had enough,things will automatically change in this country. Politicians are the most fearful people I have seen. They are aware that the very day we come together is the day their chess game on our heads stop and that is why they use ethnicity, religion and other flippancies to divide us.
What is your advice to these demography on how to consolidate on their wins?
My advice to young people is for us to go back to the drawing board. There’s possibility that things might not have gone totally the way we wanted it to be,but we were able to make a bold statement. Young people must continue to be united in our efforts to rid our country of unproductive political elements whose antics is to continue to divide us with ethnicity and other primordial sentiments.
Beyond voting, there’s nothing stopping us from participating in shaping government policies, driving conversations and promoting a culture of democracy through peaceful and productive means.