Arguably, youth ‘participation’ is key in political campaigns and party organisations or reorganisation in Ghana. Despite, the fact that, in time past so much noise have been made about ‘Youth’ and the role they play in political party organisations (or reorganisation), it is also clear that, this area remains the least focused with content and tangible approach to solving the challenges in there; you may call it political rhetorics and you would not be far from the truth.
I’m well aware of the proclivity for people to impugn ill motive(s) as regards this article. I wrote this piece as always without prejudice to existing work(s) of anyone or group of people. In this article, i will attempt to be blunt as much as possible, also try to expose the rhetoric and offer some workable remedies (or prescription) for the journey ahead.
Conveniently for Politicians, they would prefer the use Youth Participation as opposed to Youth Development.
So i asked a question, can any political party survive in Ghana without the role of the youth? Again can any political party have a future or improve upon its fortunes without the role of the youth? In addition can any political party campaign without the active involvement of the youth? Your guess is as good as mine!
However, my focus is the sheer neglect, naked abuse, and flowery disorganised approach to dealing with the challenges of our young people after their participation in the political process.
Young people have several challenges. I choose to call them needs; needs for security, need for education, need for health and most importantly economic need for survival of these young men and women.
Politicians across the political divide have variously spoken of monies they have doled out to young people as show of appreciation for hard work. They have spoken of the many people who line(d) up on their gates for financial assistance.
If you can term the above as appreciation of hard work, then i dare say this is the height of mediocrity and by this, we have failed the young generation of this country and our individual political parties. Doling out few notes to party people isn’t out of the ordinary. We all do it. My gravest concern is; how can they survive on these hand outs? They need something beyond this and that can sustain them for life.
Let’s agree that we all have equal stakes in the party we belong to. I have just one vote as well as the President, Minister or even the party Chairman. Why is it that with the opportunities at your disposal as an appointee, it only benefits cronies and sometimes delegates the night before elections? How is it that, the welfare of those young ones, is a secondary matter to Politicians? How is that, after power is won we are told to ‘wait for our turn’? Some even are blunt to tell us we don’t have CV’s.
Here are some few recommendations for a holistic approach to dealing with the cancerous problem we are all having to deal with as a party which has just been booted out of office and working assiduously to form the next Government.
Political party youth development approach must be multifaceted. The needs of one may not be the same as another. I will endeavour to categorise them for ease of identification.
1. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF OUR YOUTH
Political parties must develop their youth within the remit of politics. It is my believe that; just like Student Loan Trust Fund, Getfund, Ghana Aids Commission, National Youth Authority Boards, makes provisions for a Students’ representatives on their Boards. Political parties while in power must consciously reserve a quota of say 30% for the youth population.
Thirty percent (30%) of all public appointments to Boards, Commissions, Educational Institutions and Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDA’s) should be reserved for the youth. (Don’t tell me about competence; after all, a person’s capacity can only be known on the job). This will guarantee the platform for equipping the youth to learn at first hand.
The sceptics will say, but that needs an amendment of the act. I dare say NO. We only need a leader who understands and has an agenda to promote the interest of the youth. Appointing young ones below the age of 35/40 needs no ‘Act review’ just as appointing older people do not require same.
We need a robust system at the National Party level to identify and or spot, select and incubate youth leaders in the art of governance, policy-making and (re) organisation. Can we institutionalise political and business mentorship programs to aid the development of our young ones? Can we consciously track the development and progress of young ones under tutelage without the usual ‘Camp tags’?
Leaving them to develop on their own is like having a boil and pretending it is a pimple.
“Every child has inside him an aching void for excitement and if we don’t fill it with something which is exciting and interesting and good for him, he will fill it with something which is exciting and interesting and which isn’t good for him” Theodore Roosevelt, Former US President declared.
The challenges young people face are bigger than we ever thought. I have seen how very brilliant chaps got wasted by this recklessness in attending to them.
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in its publication titled “Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle – A Good Practice Guide”, advocates that “a basic principle is that support for young people in the political space should extend across the electoral cycle. Capacity development for young candidates, for example, has proven to be more effective as a continuous effort than as a one-off event, say three months before an election. Young people who participate actively in their community from early on are more likely to become engaged citizens and voters”.
Concurrently, while in or outside of Government, general Student/Tein leaders from across the country must be selected under a special programme by the National Secretariat to be trained at strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon says “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime”. It is only through a consistent and exactness of approach in the development of young ones that we can get the best results!
ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF OUR YOUTH
You may know that, while in government, we squandered the opportunity to empower young people in the party through a coordinated economic empowerment program. It’s not every young person who calls on an appointee that is looking for money to pay fees or hospital bills. Many were only looking for opportunities to explore for their economic benefits; yet we did not take advantage or if we ever did, it was haphazard and undocumented for us to monitor progress.
This will shock you! Thirty percent (30%) of all government contracts in Kenya go to the youth. Just like Ghana, Kenya also has a Youth Enterprise Fund which directly targets start ups and tracks the growth process and patterns. Suffice to say that; there are young ones in my party the NDC today who have had no opportunity through out our 8 years in Government while others have had so much only to use same to punish the underprivileged; how sad! How cruel? Disheartening to say the least or?
EDUCATION AND TRAINING OF OUR YOUTH.
According to the recommendations embedded in the Prof. Kwesi Botchwey report, the party must endeavor to crowd in the intellectual base of the party. I dare say this is the most singular important bit as it encompasses the future growth and development of the NDC. The question that bothers me most at the youth front is how much influence, role and or use do we put the TEIN to? What’s the strategy to recruit young students leaders into our party? How many votes do we grant the intellectual (TEIN) wing of the party at our Youth Congress?
The NDC as a party lacks a comprehensive database that will guarantee the spotting and tracking and the development of its members.
We need to engage the services of a database management consultants to develop one for the party going forward.
Let me proceed with the strategies that will guarantee the crowding in of the intellectual base. The intellectual base do not exist anywhere in the air to be called to join the reorganisation bid.
We can only attract them through conscious and strategic investment in them.
While in Government, I know few investments were made in the lives of some of my colleagues with scholarships to study abroad. Again that approach though good, it was hampered by our lack of monitoring and tracking of their progress.
What is the essence of paying £56,000 for one person to study abroad? A course that is available in Ghana for £5,600? That money could have been used to invest in about ten people here in Ghana?
A lot of our TEIN folks prayed for some of those opportunities but were denied with the excuse that there were no funds available; how sad?
As a party we must decide to invest in areas such as the study of Law, Economics, Policy, Governance, Leadership, Communication and Media studies etc
The NDC as a political party is gradually losing membership to its opponents due to the lackadaisical approach to our party organisation and management!
Political party governance is not based on trial and error. It is a serious business, based on strategy implementation and development-based consciousness. Elsewhere in other jurisdictions, top notch management consultants are deployed to make things happen for political parties. We must wake up to the the reality test of the times we live in and show to our opponents and by extension the world that, we can do better in terms of ameliorating suffering and safeguarding the well-being and welfare of our YOUTH.
Long live the NDC
Long live the YOUTH
Remember, the name of the game.
It’s a Youth Agenda for Action
Your Interest; My Concern!