By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, retired Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, has advised Nigerian youths not let themselves be used as willing tools by do-or-die politicians who want to stir up trouble in their communities.
He challenged them to instead, embrace the tenets of political dynamism and root out every factor contributing to the democracy deficit in Nigeria, such as voter apathy, ballot snatching, looting, arson, and the likes.
According to him, youths constitute a large percentage of our voting and working population and are also going to be the number one population block that will suffer the consequences of bad governance and incompetent leaders in the future.
“Therefore, you must do everything to safeguard your future survival and welfare in mind. Get actively involved in the democratic process by joining a political party and electing those who will lead you. Remember that voting is a civic duty expected of every Nigerian,” he said.
The former Chief of Army Staff said he spent his entire service life defending the nation and democracy because of his conviction that the political system is most conducive to peace, sustainable development, rule of law, and respect for human rights.
He said that Nigeria’s 22 years of uninterrupted democracy is worth celebrating, saying that elections devoid of integrity could not bring legitimacy to the winners, security to the losers, or public confidence in their leaders and institutions.
This, according to him, weakens polities by encouraging disaffected groups to seek out less constructive outlets for their discontent, saying some people feel that there is no need to commend the Nigerian democratic project because of this challenge associated with all nascent democracies.
“I respectfully disagree. We are evolving, and as you can see, the system is improving daily as a result of our leaders’ periodic enhancements to the democratic system.
“For instance, the 2022 Electoral Act which the President, Commander-in-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari just signed into law, is a factor that will undoubtedly improve the transparency and acceptability of the country’s future elections and promote democratic governance.
“Democracy remains a universal aspiration because it actually delivers.
“For example, of the 20 countries with highest levels of human development as measured by the UN’s human development index, 19 are liberal democracies.
“Among the top 40, 36 are liberal democracies. And even the citizens of poorer democracies live, on average, nine years longer than citizens of poor autocracies, because they have better access to health and education.
“Democracies are also less vulnerable to famines and conflicts.
“It was the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, who said, “Man is, by nature, a political animal.” It means that a man is born, lives, and dies as a member of a community, and the affairs of that community are therefore his and vice-versa.
“This is why since my transition back to civilian life from the Army, I have continued to participate in every civic activity I could to promote peace and strengthen our democracy. It is the reason I decided to send this message to all Nigerian youths,” he said.
Buratai also urged Nigerians youths to take the critical issues of participation and a vibrant democratic system in Nigeria as sacrosanct, and embrace what he termed political dynamism.
He defined political dynamism as vigorous political activity that is geared towards progress, and strength in the polity usually characterizlsed by patriotism, service to the fatherland, and youth inclusivity.
According to him, youth can be a creative force, a dynamic source of innovations, and they have undoubtedly, throughout history, participated, contributed, and even catalysed important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics, and economic opportunities.
“However, young people also face poverty, barriers to education, multiple forms of discrimination, and limited employment prospects and opportunities.
“This is a global challenge although it differs across countries, and it is why the youth must take the issue of electing their leaders very seriously,” he said.
Buratai hailed the dynamism exhibited by the founding fathers such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Obafemi Awolowo and offering an inclusive impression that all the regions had a say in the formation of the country.
He said that President Buhari had laid a foundation for a new Nigeria, adding that he had kept faith with his vision and principles in spite the myriad of challenges.
He urged youths to carry the vision and principles beyond the current administration and protect the legacies for a greater Nigeria and a formidable future generations. (NAN)