We know what we are going through and we know what we must do to get out of it. We know what we have seen and we know why it must end. We know why we cry and we know how to dry our tears now.
We also know how to look into the eyes of those that have failed us now and tell them “Nigeria remembers; the youths remember and we are not going to give you the baton again. It will go to young visionaries; not to the blood of my blood but to those that understand my plight; to those that can end the rot you have started.” This is what we must do; this is what we must tell them. This is the way forward.
But it is not in any way going to be an easy ride, we have to find a way to answer this call; it is not your call and it certainly is not mine, it is Nigeria’s call… To serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith. The youths need to have a say in 2019, we don’t have to hold any office but I hope we do. But the road to 2019 is not in any way going to be easy, we may have misunderstandings between ourselves, join the wrong political party, get a bad brand of mentoring and maybe even lose our way. It is imperative that we don’t, which is why I came up with this piece to serve as a guide.
- ARE YOUR LEADERS SERVING YOU RIGHT?
If yes, then why contest? You should know that our aim should be to help a working system succeed. And to also replace the one that is not working with one that will. And the need for that arises where the leaders are corrupt and incompetent. By deciding to take action, know that “there is no more dangerous menace to civilisation than a government of incompetent, corrupt or vile men” – Ludwig Von Mises. This should be your inspiration in ousting the bad eggs.
- FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
The world is filled with good men; you might not know them but there are lots of them waiting to be unearthed. Find people on the same page as you; people that have also spotted the negatives in the system and are willing to end the rot, then make them your partners or allies. Because you cannot do it alone.
Make yourself a beacon of light and they will come to you and if there is such a group of people already, go to them and share your ideas with them and them with you for “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they fall one by one” – Edmund Burke
- DO NOT SEE IT AS “US VS THEM”
A lot of us see this as a fight between our generation and the previous ones but this should not be the case. No community will thrive without its elders and a youth, no matter how pure his journey is will risk losing his way by not listening to his elders and learning from their experiences. Simply put, a child cannot go to war with his parents. To echo the voice of late Dan Masanin Kano, Alhaji Maitama Sule in his infinite wisdom said, “New breed without old breed will breed greed”.
And one of the good traits of a good leader is carrying everyone along, irrespective of the differences or even his distaste for such person. 2019 should, simply, be about absolution!
- FIND A MENTOR
This would be your first reward for recognizing the importance of elders to our plight. Find a leader who fascinates, whose story inspires you and his decision making not only matches your ideology, it is always right and spot on. Know that he is not perfect, not everyone is. So, you should not copy him copiously and blindly. Pick what you need and look at how to become adept and it and with time you may even reinvent those skills to suit you, the people around you and those that believe in you better. Your mentor doesn’t have to be from your tribe, religion or even Nigeria and you are well within your right to have more than one mentor.
- BRING DIVERSE GROUPS TOGETHER
This will be the most challenging aspect of your journey, bringing together people with different political views and possibly, different political parties: People from different religions as well as those that follow no religion at all. You will also need to bring the lower, middle and upper classes together. Bring the young and the old together. The educated and the uneducated. That is how it should be, each person has a role to play in nation building and fostering the spirit of unity.
“Those of us placed in a position of leadership must be prepared to grasp the nettle if we unite in doing so, and if, in addition, we set a worthy example and a marat on pace in probity, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice, the people will follow, all too readily, in our footsteps” – Obafemi Awolowo.
But there would be challenges, they may not all understand your ideas. They may not even want to unite themselves with others. Don’t give up when this happens because, upsetting the status quo and bringing something new, no matter how good it is, may be disregarded at first. Make them understand you and try to understand them too, you cannot all be totally wrong or totally right but you can all follow the same light with the hope that it leads to general happiness and satisfaction for everyone. And if your mentor is in the same mold as Martin Luther King Jnr, Nelson Mandela and the likes then you already know that it is possible.
So, find a common ground. Build the chemistry between you all and grab your popcorn and watch the ideas gushing out. And when the same wanton politicians come again, they will come again I know, they will discover that divide and rule is no longer an option. They will learn that 2019 is not a year for mediocrity or so-so, everything in 2019 should be top-notch. Then, you will see that unity will not only be willingly achieved, it will be enjoyed by all.
- HAVE A CLEAR PLAN
Know that it is not all about you, it is not all about your group before asking the question “do we run?” Make the decision together because “a disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.” Let your decision be that of statesmen and if they choose you, then know that you have a great purpose to serve and that your journey has only merely begun.
A lot of great men didn’t reach the Promised Land. Decades ago, Luther had a dream that is not realised until 2007. You don’t have to see the Promised Land, guiding people there is in itself an achievement and you will be remembered for it.
- ARE YOU READY TO RUN?
What can you offer the people? How would you improve them individually? Are you capable of inspiring others? Can you stick to your path plan when the going gets tough? Answer these in your mind and if you are satisfied with your answers then, great! Now peruse through this statement by John Bucham “the task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit is, for the greatness is there already” there and then you will know if you have evoked the greatness in you and if you have then, are you willing to unselfishly help others attain greatness too? If not then, do not rush into contesting. Sit back and let another person that you believe is ready to take the wheel while you concentrate on developing this part of you. It is better for you to miss the opportunity to serve your people than to go when you are ill prepared. Another opportunity will present itself when you are ready.
- JOIN A PARTY THAT MATCHES YOUR IDEOLOGY
This is where you risk throwing away everything you have worked for. Don’t go to a party simply because it has the largest follower base and gives you the best chance of winning. But if you look at our parties today, you will see that the lack of visions and ideologies are telling. They are just a collection of disjointed people on a journey to a city, scribbled by a kindergarten kid on a piece of paper, they do not know but they all want to arrive there hastily and at the expense of the electorates.
You have to go deep into our history to find parties with ideologies, parties that were created for a purpose other than just getting into office. With Awolowo’s Action Group that is famed for its Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism and Aminu Kano’s NEPU and its Social Liberalism and socialist economics ideology. That was a time of progressives!
But, it is expected that you are now part of an army of young progressives. Why not form an all youth party with the aim of not just winning elections? It will take time for it to reach the top but it is worth it. Moses didn’t live to see the Promised Land but the people he led did. Martin Luther King Jnr didn’t live to see the Promised Land but his dream came true with the emergence of Barrack Obama as President of the United States in 2008.
“After rain comes sunshine; after darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly terrible mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask!” – Obafemi Awolowo.
- FIND FUNDS AND KNOW HOW TO SPEND IT
Our generation should explore and embrace a means to end politics of money and the funds you need here should not be with the intendment to make you the highest bidder. You will need funds because you are embarking on a process of learning, a process of self-fulfillment, a process of connecting with those at the grassroots.
You will need to travel, widely, around the country. And you may need to hire people to manage some aspects of your campaign.
- DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU CANNOT KEEP
This is where even seasoned politicians get it wrong, telling you they have sown hybrid seeds when they don’t even have the conventional seeds. Building castles in the air should not be your forte. Whatever is started with one lie will lead to another lie and then another one and you would end up having a whole flock of lies.
- PRAY AND BE PATIENT
Pray because it feeds your spirit, it keeps your hope alive and when accepted, prayers can move mountains. Prays will help keep your patience in check, make you persevere and endure every hardship that comes your way. It makes you relentless but most importantly makes you remember that you are only human and there is a limit to what you can or cannot do. So, pray and wait but hope.
- LEAVE BEHIND A LEGACY
Don’t rest on your laurels if you succeed, know that it is not over. So, don’t stop trying, don’t stop evolving because you will struggle to fulfill even the simplest campaign promise if you let your head down. That requires courage, it requires dedication, focus and letting the same progressive minded individuals you started with from the bottom to be the fulcrum of your government.
And don’t give up if you fail, be proud you gave it all. And after that analyse your campaign and the winner’s, look at where he got it right and how you got it wrong. Then find other ways to serve your people.
Gimba is the Coordinator of Forward Yobe, Forward (#FYF) and can be reached on: 08100000888 and firstname.lastname@example.org