Youths Charged On Grassroots Political Participation, Visibility

Kunle Adelabu

Comrade Comfort Olafare, speaking at an international conference. File photo.

Comrade Comfort Olafare, Member, Nigeria Youth Parliament and founder, Save – A – Girl Initiative, has charged youths to participate and engage more in the grassroots politics and development.

Olafare, a former President, Igbogbo Students’ Union (ISU) and student of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos, stated that engagement in grassroots political mobilization allows youths that are engaged to be recognised and identified.

She was the speaker at an Edu – Political Webinar titled, “Grassroots Politics: A way to developing political identity”, organized on WhatsApp by a group called Political Minds.

The discourse was hosted by the team leader of the Political Mind, Omotosho Sophia Bolaoluwatito, and moderated by Amb. Bamgbade Ademola, the Lagos State Youth Ambassador.

“Grassroots politics is simply the integral part of politics from one’s immediate environment. It is an integral part of politics because it is expedient to political identification.

“It is from the scratch and the people usually gain more recognition compared to politics from the peak.

“It is rudiment to gaining and developing political identity because it helps to expose one’s ability, capacity and level of intelligence”.

The Youth Parliamentarian emphasized that grassroots participation for youths is a way to developing political identity because it brings them closer to their people and open countless doors for opportunities.

She also charged young people interested in joining politics to do soul searching on why they want to get involved in political mobilization.

“Before getting involved in grassroots politics, here are a few questions to ask: Why do I want to get involved? Who am I going to represent? What do I stand to gain?”, she asked.

The speaker stated that youths should always exploit their abilities as potential leaders by ensuring that their capacities and abilities are unleashed in grassroots political developments where they will be recognised.

“Most of us believe that as youths, we should exploit our innate abilities as leaders and as such, we should see grassroots politics as a way of identifying ourselves instead of considering starting from the peak where we are likely to gain little or no recognition”.

Olafare, while enumerating on the questions raised above during the session, stated:

“The first question (why do I want to get involved in grassroots politics) is germane to gaining political relevance and building political identity.

“You can only be relevance when your identity is identified. We must first get the reason why we want to get involved in grassroots politics right.

“There are countless reasons but we shall be considering the basic reason and that is TO RENDER SELFLESS SERVICE TO MY IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT” she said.

While giving further explanation on reasons for selfless service, Comrade Olafare stated:

“It is because anything you do with passion will always account for itself and yield fruitful result”, she stated.

“Also, it gives something in return to the person involved with or without expectations. In other words, one must be ready to pay the price (sacrifice).

“On the second question- Who am I going to represent?

“This is very important while indulging in grassroots politics. You need to be sure you’re not going into politics solely because someone told you that you can or that you want to become a rich man in a twinkle of an eye. Meanwhile, grassroots politics has to do with more of commitment and sacrifice.

“So, you must first bear in mind that I’m going to represent my people because I’ve got something to offer and I’m willing to sacrifice.

“The third question often time comes first and that is why some grassroots politicians die upon arrival.

“What do I stand to gain?

“What you stand to gain should be who you become after your service. How much you’ve been identified through your commitment and selfless service”, she stated.

She also enjoined young men engaging in politics to make themselves visible and acceptable.

“If you get involved in grassroots politics without making yourself or your projects visible, you’ve succeeded in killing your opportunity to be identified.

“Towards developing political identity, you must be visible. This is important”, she added.

Explaining further how young people can make themselves visible, Olafare advised that they should engagement more in propagating their programmes on the social media platforms and also get engaged in activities on the social media.

“This further buttress that you can only be identified when your projects speak for you.

“As youth of 21st Century, it is important to note that the best way to make your project feasible towards gaining political identity and relevance is through THE NEW MEDIA.

“New Media is the same as Social Media and as far as 21st Century is concerned, it is a major platform for projection, promotion and visibility for political identification”, she said.

“When your projects are feasible, your identity will be visible”, he said.

“Conclusively, towards developing political identity, it is important to consider investment, mind-blowing programmes and eye-opening activities communicated through the new media that will trigger the interest of the society”.

Reacting to a question on godfatherism in Nigeria politics and challenges posed to the emergence of youths in murky water of the country’s politics, Comrade Olafare enjoined youths to invest in themselves to defeat the scourge.

“The truth is that we are tired of godfathers in Nigeria, but the fact still remains that godfatherism is usually as a result of investment.

“When you invest in people, they tend to remain loyal, faithful, and honest.

“So, the more people keep investing in others, the more we can’t outlive godfatherism”, she said.

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