|Duru Samuel Azubuike|
The just concluded free, fair and peaceful presidential elections in the US has aroused strong emotions and raised questions on the state of leadership, governance, public service, and elections in Africa. Let’s step away from wishful thinking and blind optimism, and be realistic!
Politicians respond to issues that will help them get elected or re-elected and build their career. This means they respond when the youth show up in large numbers – when we come out en-masse to let them know what we want and what will get us to vote for them. When I cast my vote as an individual, all that it tells the politician is that he/she has done something to get it. They probably think that: “It may have been something they said. It may have been something they did. It may have been part of their history, or it may just be that I dislike their opponent.” They do not know exactly what got me to vote for them.
I believe that when we vote as part of a group of young people who stand for good governance and environmental issues, for instance, our group can make a clear statement about why we are voting. That statement then becomes part of what the politician has to deal with while in office in order to get reelected. This way, our vote becomes a vote for the issue we care about.
Until we come together as a group, our individual votes will continue to be like a grain of sand on the seashore. It gets washed and blown about to little effect. Unity is strength, hence when we come together, our voice becomes very loud, and beautiful like a clear crystalline sand for what we care about; a sand that others will notice and be drawn to. A stand which the political process will have no choice than respond to.
Recently, at Resource 2012 in Oxford, former US President, Bill Clinton laid the blame for politicians’ failure to advance the sustainability agenda on the ignorance of voters. “The whole consciousness of a significant number of voters" must be changed to allow their governments to address resource scarcity, he said. “Change, yes we can!” has become the slogan of not only a successful campaign but also a message of hope at a time of national and global crisis. Of course, change for the sake of change is not enough. The goal and direction of that change is far more important. Thus, our concerted actions as vibrant and talented African youth can pull down the rampart of dysfunctional institutions – together we can triumph over the inertia that circumvents meaningful and people-focused growth and development in our African States.
More so, it’s more imperative now than ever for a new breed of visionary, honest, and patriotic youths to get actively involved in African politics. In essence, as much as we need to come out en masse to vote, we also need honest and transparent youths to vie for public offices and to assume the leadership of government institutions in various African States. This is critical for obviating electoral shenanigans and irregularities and for ensuring our collective progress and prosperity.
It’s time we got off the mat and did something collectively. Let’s be inspired by this African proverb – “sticks in a bundle cannot break!”
Thank you! God bless us! God bless Africa!
Duru Samuel Azubuike