he Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan claimed the lives of the country’s political and economic leaders as the first casualties. On one hand, the internet was flooded with depressing videos and images of Afghan political leaders, millionaires, businessmen, technocrats, and others fleeing the nation, while on the other hand, ordinary Afghans applauded and welcomed the Taliban. This sends a scary message to leaders of countries confronting issues similar to Afghanistan’s. At the same time, it serves as a source of inspiration for non-state actors seeking to take over governments. Be that said, Nigeria’s political and economic leaders must reconsider their approach to resolving the country’s current instability and take actions as swiftly as possible in doing that.
Nigeria is now afflicted by a myriad of wars raging across the country. From the Northeast being ravaged by Boko Haram and ISWAP, to the Northwest being bamboozled by bandits and terrorists on all major highways and bushes, and down to the Southeast purported violence by the erstwhile secessionist organization known as IPOB, are only but a few examples. Although, they may not be as huge a war as the one currently happening in the nation of Afghanistan, but they are still a war! Truth be told, war is war as it is aimed at taking lives, destroying properties, seizing territories, and, of course, obtaining power by toppling the current government of a sovereign state. As a result, war poses similar threats and dangers anywhere in the world.
If any of these organizations were to take control of any portion of Nigeria, a scenario comparable to Afghanistan would emerge. Political leaders and the wealthy would flee, leaving everything behind, while the masses would flock to the streets to celebrate and greet the invading troops, surrendering themselves to their fate.
With a powerful military and committed security agencies (at least on the surface), such an occurrence may be a hard to come by in Nigeria (the same was said of Afghanistan few years ago), but the government must act quickly to close the loopholes that are widening by the day. Afghan political leaders fleeing their palaces, businessmen abandoning their businesses, technocrats and academics fleeing by any means are sending a clear message to Nigeria’s political, economic, social, cultural, and academic leadership that the country’s current insecurity is not only their war; for Nigeria to see the light of day once more, they must fight it with all weapons (hard and soft) at their disposal.
The Southeast region should be of particular concern since, with its relatively large number of enterprises, industries, and wealthy individuals, any upheaval and social disorder will be disastrous for the region’s business community. Many communities in the region have complied with the IPOB’s sit-at-home edict, which was proclaimed on August 9. Many young people perceive IPOB as a fight for social justice, but its tactics of intimidation and violence have driven many to comply out of fear.
Aside the use of coercion and force to fight wars, Nigerian leaders should employ politics and policies judiciously as part of their plans to win the war against insurrection, agitations, insurgencies and the likes. The upcoming election in 2023 provides an excellent opportunity for the country’s leaders to amend the nation vis-a-vis the government. The involvement of mammoth youthful participation in politics is a crucial and effective remedy on the ground. Because, nobody in his or her rightful mind and senses would want to destroy what they help build or pull down the foundation they help erect. The will always serve as sparks, stimulants, catalysts, as well as the driving force and targets for non-state groups to spread their ideology.
All of Nigeria’s major political parties, particularly the APC ( All Progressive Congress) and the PDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), should fill in young individuals as vice presidential candidates for the 2023 elections as a matter of urgency. This is a survival strategy for the elderly political class, not just a political gadget. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government should be eager to improve youth political participation and engagement in governance at this critical time. To that end, the president should appoint 12 young people ranging in age from their late 40s to their early 50s as senior special assistants with full cabinet status, two from each of the six geopolitical zones.
This would have a significant impact on young people’s perceptions of the government, as well as provide the Buhari administration with bragging rights that youths are sufficiently represented in government. This would also strengthen the government’s relationship with Nigerian youths, who account for more than half of the country’s voters and make up a substantial portion of the population. Despite the fact that several youths now hold positions in the Buhari administration, an increase of 12 youths in the cabinet will result in a 27 percent increase in young representation.
The events in Afghanistan should serve as a warning to all of us and not just the people in position of power.