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67 Million Youth Failure and the Ghost of Past Youth Movements

Again, another youth awareness drive is failing as fast as its forbears. For those familiar with new media channels, there has been a recent campaign seeking for youths to mill under the 67 Million Youth banner but it was instead received with scorn and suspicion.

The composition of its conveners was largely tilting towards the ruling political party and the Twitter handle used for it was found to be vastly critical of the former government, thus, it quickly lost credibility. It is now largely believed that any such initiative is just meant to eventually shortchange the youth in the end after the romance Red Media Africa had with the campaign of President Buhari whom youths are quite disappointed in. This scepticism and due diligence perusal of youth movements stems from no other reason than the milling distrust amongst the youth and anyone championing an altruistic drive nowadays.

This will not be the first time a youth movement would be formed only to quickly dissipate energy as soon as it came. 30PercentOrNothing too failed in the end due to same reasons 67 Million Youth Initiative is falling fast on. Less than 6 years ago, GenVoices was formed after the Fuel Subsidy protests. Some would say its conveners, led by Kola Oyeneyin, cashed out after riding on the waves of what the protests and its fallback (evident in GenVoices) had gifted them. Many of these youth leaders would go on to take either juicy government appointments or be awarded enviable contracts after profiting indirectly from the Occupy Nigeria windfall. Anytime this happens, at any given cycle of such betrayal, the average Nigerian youth groans in abundant disappointment and heartbreak while many of them say, “Never Again!”

Even more so, could it be mere coincidence that Red Media, a media strategy outfit led by Chude Jideonwo, is again featuring prominently in the set up of 67 Million Youth Initiative as it was in the defunct GenVoices? Is it the profiteering season again where these supposed youth leaders hide behind seemingly noble causes, misguiding the youth and exploiting same leverage to fuel their own agenda? If this is true by any chance, public cynicism would definitely be ideal and ripe enough.

The only youth movement which seemed to have somewhat succeeded, #NotTooYoungToRun, had the initiative to push a bill through the National Assembly until it was assented to by the President. They rocked gently on the support provided by that bill and sailed with the power provided already by the engine of its campaign. This was albeit easier to achieve than movements which were set to take off with no impactful long-term goals.

There was heavy criticism on social media that the 67 Million Youth movement neither engaged in youth-oriented activism such as with #EndSARS, nor did it speak against it either as a body or as individuals constituting its governance. This is a huge fail on the part of its leaders. Taking a stand in principle on matters of national importance is obviously something many citizens do not take with levity. Knowing the position of such bodies on particular matters does send a message that they are able to support it or criticize constructively.

We cannot thus blame the youth for being more sceptical of every move of even the truly altruistic citizens. They keep reminding themselves that “the beautiful ones are not yet born”, so they expect saints for their redemption no more. And they are no longer keeping silent in the face of tyranny or injustice or impunity, as this would amount to the man dying within them.

The average Nigerian youth is now more self-aware, even better informed in civic matters, governance and their identity. Information is being redistributed at an unprecedented speed that hoarders of knowledge can no longer hide behind a finger as it used to be. The latter can no more trust in their methods of brainwashing a more aware citizenry. It is a silent revolution no person in their right mind dares stop. It is no more a situation of identity politics where a micro-minority profit more under a large group – as it was even until 2015.

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Macaddy Gad

Macaddy is mostly a farmer in the day who also dabbles into technology at night, in search of other cutting edge intersections. He's on Twitter @i_fix_you

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