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Roaring towards unity: Nigeria’s political education journey

A new administration is coming in a few days, and citizens must start looking into the future. The just concluded elections are one of its…

A new administration is coming in a few days, and citizens must start looking into the future. The just concluded elections are one of its history’s most polarised and contentious polls. The campaign resembled a ferocious safari adventure, where fierce rivalries and heated debates took centre stage. The political landscape was fraught with allegations of fraud and irregularities by the opposition parties, reminiscent of a thrilling wildlife encounter.

Nevertheless, INEC declared the winners after a delayed and disputed process. The main challengers of the election rejected the results and filed petitions at their respective election tribunals, claiming that the election was rigged in favour of their opponents. The tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict in six to eight months.

The election exposed Nigerians’ deep divisions and grievances along religious, regional and ethnic lines. Politicians have often exploited these differences for their own interests, leading to mistrust and resentment among the citizens. The election also revealed the dissatisfaction and frustration of many Nigerians with the state of affairs in the country, especially on issues such as security, corruption, the economy, and social justice.

Amidst a nation boasting the world’s largest population of young people, where the median age stands at a youthful 18.1 years, Nigeria faces a pivotal question: How can it forge ahead as a unified and prosperous nation?

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With approximately 70 per cent of the populace under the age of 30 and a remarkable 42 per cent under 15, the focus turns to empowering and educating the next generation of Nigerians, equipping them to navigate the diverse array of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

In this context, it becomes crucial to explore how political education can foster a vibrant culture of democracy, tolerance, and civic engagement among the youth.

Political education is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes that enable citizens to participate effectively and responsibly in public life. It is not limited to formal schooling but includes informal and non-formal learning opportunities such as media, social networks, civil society organisations, and community activities.

Political education aims to develop critical thinking, ethical reasoning, civic awareness, and active citizenship among learners.

Political education is crucial for the next generation of Nigerians for several reasons. First, it can help them understand the history, structure, and functioning of their political system and their rights and responsibilities as citizens. This can enable them to make informed choices and hold their leaders accountable.

Second, it can help them appreciate the diversity and complexity of their society and the common values and interests that bind them together. This can foster a sense of national identity, a sense of belonging, and respect for different opinions and perspectives.

Third, it can help them develop skills and competencies that are essential for participating in public life, such as communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and leadership. This can prepare them for taking up roles and responsibilities in various sectors and levels of society.

Just like a vibrant tapestry woven by skilled artisans, political education for the next generation in Nigeria demands a comprehensive and collaborative approach involving a diverse ensemble of actors and institutions. The following strategies can be employed to achieve this noble goal. 

Reforming the curriculum and pedagogy of formal education to incorporate political education as a core subject across all levels of schooling. This strategy can be done by revising the existing civic education curriculum to include topics such as democracy, human rights, governance, citizenship, diversity, conflict resolution, and global issues. The pedagogy should also be learner-centred, interactive, and experiential, using methods such as debates, simulations, role-plays, case studies, projects, and field trips.

Enhancing the capacity and professionalism of teachers and educators to deliver effective political education. This strategy can be done by providing them with adequate training, resources and support to update their knowledge, skills, and attitudes towards political education. Teachers should also be encouraged to adopt a neutral and balanced approach to political issues and avoid imposing their own views or biases on their students.

Leveraging the potential of media and technology to facilitate and supplement political education. This strategy can be done by creating and disseminating quality and relevant content on political issues and processes through various platforms such as radio, television, newspapers, social media, podcasts, and blogs. Media and technology can also be used to engage and empower learners through interactive and participatory features such as polls, quizzes, games, surveys, and online forums like Twitter Spaces, which attract many of us.

Strengthening the role and contribution of civil society organisations and community groups to provide informal and non-formal political education opportunities. This strategy can be done by supporting and collaborating with existing initiatives such as youth clubs, women’s associations, religious groups, cultural organisations, and human development.

Therefore, by investing in the nurturing power of political education, Nigeria can confidently stride towards a future where its young citizens, like the majestic lions of the savannah, possess the wisdom and skills to surmount any challenge and seize every opportunity that awaits them.

Just as a mighty baobab tree draws nourishment from its extensive root system, political education stands as vital sustenance for the flourishing of the next generation. With knowledge and awareness, they can become the informed custodians, responsible guardians, and active contributors needed for the growth and stability of the country.

 

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