By Taiwo Adediran

This article is a product of the recognition that youths are truly the leaders of tomorrow. It also comes on the backdrop of the Nigerian delight in the wake of President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent to the highly anticipated ‘Not too Young to Run Bill.’ The latest of such embrace came from the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who on a radio interview in Ilorin, Kwara state recently, said, “the time has come to let youths occupy vital positions in governance,” but was very apt to warn the youths not to abuse such privilege.

While the proponents of the bill notably, the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) led by its Executive Director, Samson Itodo, knows we are still far from achieving the feat, it’s heartening to know that the journey towards re-positioning the Nigerian youth is already underway. This thus, underscores the expediency of ensuring that the reduction in age doesn’t only spread to the Senate and state number one citizen’s position, but also actualizes the proposed cap on campaign expenses and political parties’ charges on candidacy forms.

This notwithstanding, fellow Nigerians – without foreclosing other setbacks – there’s an issue that poses grievous danger to this forward-thinking advocacy for a broader youth involvement in governance. The lingering social vices that has become the survival instincts for a significant fraction of Nigerian youths is an unheeded albatross which can indeed flush all progressive efforts down the drain.

From time immemorial, vices such as robbery, hooliganism, prostitution had been identified and are still being combated on the battle for a saner society. But more are creeping in and budding without much attention. Just like cultism had wreaked an unimaginable havoc – transmogrifying from a campus pressure group to a dreaded, killer fraternity, and permeating the streets from the four walls of the higher institutions – before it started to attract national response, internet fraud and drug abuse are also hitting alarming crescendo, surreptitiously beyond expectation.

It is highly ludicrous that the BBC had to publish that disgusting-but-objective report on drug abuse about Nigeria before government and its relevant agencies woke up from slumber to take any step. Why we always have to wait until issues get out of hand is befuddling. Again, it brings to the fore, the importance attached to foreign media and their reports. Nothing seems to have changed since the day and year late dictator, General Sanni Abacha died, where we had the foreign media break the news, leaving the local media dazed and dejected.

We remember to exemplify this subject in songs like DJ Enimoney’s “Diet” but failed to again put in place befitting policy framework that will concurrently stop the drug cartel behind the illicit drug production and flow. We relished such songs as they boom out of DJ loudspeakers with our teenagers fancifying the tune with the ‘Shakushaku’ moves, but fail to enlighten the public to discourage such abuse as well as sanction and prosecute adherents. We remembered to bring the internet fraud to limelight by waxing lyrical melodies like, “Maga don pay,” chorusing that Kelly Handsome line with “Shout halleluyah”, but failed to address and sincerely prosecute those caught in the act. It is so ludicrous that the courageous likes of Falz-the-bad-guy, could only found himself enmeshed in needless controversy for scoring 9ce’s ‘Living Things’ low due to its seeming encouragement of internet fraud.

Now the chicken has come home to roost!

Several youths with history of substance abuse and internet fraud are now finding a safe haven in politics. Many are already holding political non-elective positions while several others are warming up to vie for political positions in the next dispensation. Young individuals of questionable character are proudly declaring interest to take leadership positions. Intelligence security officials for instance reported a surge in the number of such individuals in several states. Such internet fraudsters are conspicuously noticeable in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital; Same for Lagos, Ogun and many southern states.

What it means is that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, may not have to deal with isolated cases anymore, as found in that involving Senator representing OgunEast, Buruji Kasamu. An agency that is at the moment lamenting inadequacy may sooner than later have its hands full. The floor of the legislative chamber may now become a laboratory for Olamide’s ‘Science students’ and the state Government house; a computer village or CBT centre for the yahoo-yahoo-turn-politicians.

This poses a threat for the nation and the generation unborn. More worrisome is the fact that such individuals are in illegitimate possession of the financial wherewithal to prosecute their beguilingly perilous ambition. If this is allowed to fester, how will the labour of our heroes past never be in vain? How shall we uphold the honour and glory of our nation, Nigeria, with fraudulent ingenuity and corrupt inclination? It seems as though, we are putting our nation at harm’s way, playing the foolish cat game, where in the words of Eddie Izzard, “Cats have a scam going – you buy the food, they eat the food, they go away; and that’s the deal.”

Political parties must not take this development with a pinch. Look beyond the innocence in the face and currency in the pocket. Dig deep and be sure of who that young man is and where he gets the fund he lavishes, for today you might enjoy the largesse, but the shadows of the past may come back to haunt you. Nigeria is going through hell already. This must not be allowed to compound our national woes.

Taiwo is the Head of News and Current Affairs at Royal FM Ilorin, Kwara State

You can follow him on twitter @adedirantai