Ghana is blessed with a teeming youth population, which is a valuable asset for nation building.
Unfortunately, this population segment experiences high unemployment, lack of motivation and influence, lack of access to quality mentorship, and among others. It is important to note that the youth’s skills and talents can be honed, and their potential unlocked to advance the nation.
It behooves the government to develop policies and programmes to address youth’s challenges and harness their demographic dividend to foster national growth.
Youth in politics
One of the major issues of the current political season, which includes intraparty elections or better still is youth participation in partisan politics. Youth today are more motivated than ever to participate in political and governance processes of the country. It is heartwarming to see so many young people putting themselves up for political office and in so doing contributing their quota to nation building.
Given the nod in the constituency elections, the youth have energy, passion, and tenacity to crisscross the country to canvass votes from the electorates.
While some have argued that, the young people can weather the storms and excel in any human endeavour with the right attitudes, guidance, and coaching from the older generations, others claim the youth lack the experience and discretion needed to be entrusted with important tasks.
According to the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, the young people entering the legislature are a “threat” to the House since their youthful exuberance and indiscretion would turn the chamber into fisticuffs. As if that weren’t enough, another legislator called the youth “coconut heads”. To wit, the youth lack intelligence.
There is, however, ample evidence to the contrary. For instance, former President Kufour served as a minister in the Busia government when still a young man, and he did so with humility, tact, and excellence. Then again, despite all odds, the late President, Professor Atta-Mills (his soul rest in peace), appointed a number of young persons to in his government, to mention but just a few: Dr. Omane Boamah, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa and Felix Ofosu-Kwakye, not only learned quickly on their jobs and performed creditably well, much to the admiration of all.
Politics of insults
The politics of insults has permeated Ghanaian political discussions. The youth are often cited as the worst culprits. Others claim that older folks are not setting a good example for younger people to follow. Political appointments come with the reward of being able to vilify and demonize opponents. Some say respect for the elderly is dwindling as a result of democratic values that allow the youth to challenge the status quo. The use of insults/ hate speech should not be tolerated in our society.
Politics is mostly a contest of ideas, and the party that can make stronger arguments in policies and programmes relevant to the needs and aspirations of the people will win the voters’ hearts and minds.
Money or service
Some people think that the youth entering politics to seek their own interests are driven by money. It is a known reality that candidates for elected office must spend a lot of money to finance their political campaigns. Thus, money spent will be made back. This calls for state funding of political parties so that the monetization of the electoral process is minimized. For instance, there are those who enter politics become wealthy and famous in the shortest possible time as compared with university dons who have lectured years and have little to show for it.
Others also contend that youth get involved into politics to serve and promote the welfare of others. Several development projects have been brought by some young lawmakers to improve their constituencies and beyond. Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, a North Tongu MP, is one such representative worth mentioning.
There has been a mad rush for the youth to run for the parliamentary primaries in their areas, with some names from the two major political parties emerging. The NDC are Edem Agana, John Dumelo, Dela Goldheart are some of the NDC members, while NPP members include Nana Abrokwa Asare, Eugene Arhin, and Ernest Kumi. Only time will tell whether they will be able to scale the hurdle.
The writer is a journalist and peace practitioner