In 2019, young Nigerians who were born at the turn of the millenium (2000, 2001) will actually be able to vote. Those of us born within the 80s and 90s may be able to run for offices. It may yet be our time to stop being kingmakers and rise up to become kings, ourselves.
For the better part of my adult life, I have dedicated valuable time, and attention to solving the Nigerian question; the question of human development, good governance, responsible and responsive leadership, building businesses that last forever.
The incubator I live in, has in the last two months afforded me the opportunity to walk through literature, observe global patterns and ideas, monitor ideals that changed the world, but I have the same old conclusion; young Nigerians need to get into politics to change Nigeria.
The three most popular ways of changing the world in the 21 century are; building an app, starting up a social enterprise, often a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), and going into politics to participate in the real policy making. In Nigeria, all three have the potential to make you rich, but the first two are seen as better ways to changing the country honourably — a lie we have believed for too long.
We have seen young Nigerians build ambitious mobile applications to change a certain portion of society. They have made money via the apps, but the Nigerian question highligted above have not been answered by any of these apps.
I have observed the best apps in the world, and none of them have radically changed the world the way politics does. No one can say for sure, what the best app in the world is, but there’s a concensus around Uber, AirBnB, Google Maps, Ushadidi, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook.
Building apps are good, but apps do not vote, apps do not run for offices and apps do not radically change the world like humans, young humans do. And this is not to say apps are not good, in fact, they are great — but humans are greater!
But there are NGOs that are changing the world. Yes, there are, but no NGO has shaped Nigeria and the world, as much as politics and politicians have. The biggest and most powerful NGOs in the world are; Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Mercy Corps, Ashoka, Wikimedia, Internation Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Bill and Melindaa Gates Foundation. They are all present in Nigeria, doing a great job, but not doing as much as a presidential signature can do in 30 seconds.
ELECTION LIKE PAGEANTRY, THE PRETTIEST GIRL DOESN’T CONTEST
Speaking on restructuring and youth participation at Chatham House, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, succintly said, and I agree, that “elections are like a beauty contest, the prettiest girl is not usually miss world because she is probably in somebody’s house as a wife”.
I believe the brightest minds among Nigerian youths are busy with NGOs and smart apps, turning a blind eye at politics or at best helping politicians as kingmakers.
“Young people think they dont have a chance, you see, this is a chicken and egg situation, so long as young people believe they dont have a chance aand stay away, they will never be there,” el-Rufai added.
“Until the age of 45, I did not believe in politics or joining a political party or engaging in politics. It was after I served as minister and left office that I realised the supremacy of politics over everything. Politics trumps everything.
“You can go and do your NGO, be social activist, and so on; you will never change the world. Unless you are Bill Gates with tonnes of money. The way to change your environment is to participate in the political process. You cannot do so without getting your hands dirty; you will be disappointed, you will be frustrated, but it is your country, it is your future.”
This, countrymen, is the truth!
POLITICS TRUMPS EVERYTHING!
If you do not believe me, listen to Ory Okolloh, director of investments for Omidyar Network and co-founder of Ushahidi, a crowd-mapping platform that gained international prominence during Kenya’s 2008 post-election violence.
As one of the biggest entreprenuers out of Africa, Okolloh says “we can’t entrepreneur our way around bad leadership. We can’t entrepreneur our way around bad policies. Those of us who have managed to entrepreneur ourselves out of it are living in a very false security in Africa.”
Chude Jideonwo, co-founder of The Future Project and one of Africa’s best entreprenuers according to Forbes, also agrees that entrepreneurship cannot answer the absolute Nigerian question.
“There is a point at which resilience becomes a defect and not a virtue,” Jideonwo said.
“It is not something to be proud of that it takes sweat and blood to register a business in name in Nigeria, to open a bank account for same and to understand its tax laws with no help from the government. It is a problem that needs to be solved.”
If you are building an app, go on. If you run an NGO, please, by all means do your best. But dear Nigerians, the best and most effective way to change the country is to dabble into the dirty, murky, politics — for politics trumps everything! Correct me if I’m right!