By Wynston G. Freeman
It is unequivocal that our present Liberia is not what we thought it would have been, but what will be more frustrating is, when we continue to mortgage our future in the hands of those who have no plan for our tomorrow.
I had the opportunity few months ago to be a panelist of the Global Leadership Seminar held in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, under the theme “Getting the Liberia We want – Challenging Our Stubborn Realities.” During the seminar, I expatiate on similar topic, “Youth Civic Engagement”, which I see it timely and necessary to be published for the larger society.
Considering the topic,the question that will arouse our curiosity is , why is it important for youth to get involved in civic participations such as community initiatives, national politics, education, health and sanitation?
I think it is because – we are the next generation to inherit the land. No one is interested in inheriting anything that has no benefit to him/her. In other to inherit the Liberia we desire, we must collectively envisage that which we want, and should get involved in the preparation today.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr says wisely, “The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today”.
For our context, I would like to draw your focus of civic participation from two angles, that all Liberian youths should take advantage of and fully participate as we challenge the stubborn realities in getting the Liberia we want:
I. Community Participation.
From the angle of the community participation, youth should get involved in the following:
1.Community Decision making
2.Community Educational Programs/Skill Training
II. Political Participation
Article 77(b) of our constitution states, every Liberian citizen not less than 18yrs of age, shall have the right to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referendum under the constitution
Eligibility for national parliament start at the age 25yrs old in our country. The Global Young Voices statistic shows1.6 percent around the world of parliamentarians are in their twenties.
Article 30(a) of our Approved Constitution states “to become a member eligible for the House of Senate a person must have attained the age of 30yrs,and for the House of Representative, the age of 25yrs.
All Liberian youths who are qualified and meet the requirements to ascend any public office, and are epitomes for change, should pursue their political ambition
My question to all youths 18yrs and above is, are you ignoring the October 2017 General Election by your abstinence? Or, should your abstinence be taken as consent of mortgaging your next six years to some besmirched characters? I presume your answers will be a resounding “NO!”
Let me disclose 3 of the many challenges that impede some of our youths from participating in civic engagement:
1. Unconsidered Inputs
Empirically, in our society, it is a known fact that when issues are at stake, the suggestions of youths are hardly considered, even if they are prudent enough for a solution.
2. Economic Constrain
Statistically, the youths of Liberia have the highest percentage in the total population of Liberia. However, it is only recently that few are emboldened to resist the odds and make their voices heard, while the majority bought in making the wrong decisions of selling our tomorrow for today. The reason seems to be that some youths believe that political participation is for the rich rather than for the poor.
It is worth pointing out that impecunious youths can make sound decisions to refuse any ginormous offer to make the right choice for their future and the future of our beloved nation.
3. Religious Doctrines/Cultural Beliefs
Some of our youths “abstinence” from political participation is predicated upon religious doctrine or their cultural beliefs.
Some religious doctrines prohibit its members from political participations in all forms. Authentically, religion is also the guideline that people use to know how to treat their fellow man and live together with the concept that everyone is equal and important, we must know that politics is the application of religion.
There are some ethnic groups’ orientation that forbid youths to ascend in major positions or aspire against their elders. Our elders and religious leaders should see reason to give the opportunity to the youths to participate in politics.
It is now time for all Liberian youths to decide our next six years by fully participating in the October 10, 2017 elections. We should not be carried away by the political dramas, and scenes performed by some political actors. Let us be aware of and guard against those politicians who want to truck us or cross pollinate us with their perceptions of narcissistic focus of state’s offices.
We have to be resilient and have our say in national concerns. In spite of the political tumult, meandering and complexities, there is still a better Liberia to achieve by our political involvements, in other words, let us be relentless in our endeavors to make state’s and community’s decisions.
We can only be better citizen and inherit a better Liberia, if our ballots are counted and our voices are heard regularly on national and community issues.
Those who will ignore the process will be ignoring their future!