The Anambra Chapter of National Association of Nigerian Seadogs (NAS), has urged youths to be more politically responsible and not allow the political class to use them for violence.
The association made the call at Citizens Summit held by the Honduras Deck in Awka on Sunday.
The theme of the summit is “Electioneering, Hate Speech, Thuggery and Youth in Building a Better Anambra State’’.
Delivering the Keynote Address, Dr Chike Okoye, decried how youths have become social media tigers pandering lies and propaganda instead of setting agenda for the next political dispensation in Anambra.
Okoye, a lecturer in the English Department at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said that if youths failed to assume a more responsible role during electioneering, they would suffer more if bad leaders emerged.
He urged the youth to use information channels as social media to mobilise and galvanise themselves for the purpose of putting leaders to task and not hate speech, thuggery and negative electioneering.
“Youth organisations must progressively become involved in sensitization and awareness creation about the evils of negative electioneering, hate speech and thuggery.
“The youth are undoubtedly, the greatest denizens on social media, they should, therefore, discourage hate speeches and its accoutrements on social media.
“The youth must become involved in the political process but not as partisan parties, they (youth) must become agents of change and the change desired must come from them.
“Youths must resist all forms of exploitation by individuals and groups for in this, they take away their voice as well as rights,’’ Okoye said.
“The time is opportune for them to become direct participants in formulating government policies and to do this, youth organisations must create synergies among themselves, looking beyond parochial or selfish interests.
“For this to work well, a change in character and value is required among the youth; they must purge themselves of all qualities inimical to national development.
“Although, part of the problems are externally induced, nevertheless, in the area of politics, the youth require to become more visible and active.
“Nigerian youth have been the worse off in the aftermaths of the negative electioneering and bad leadership which get enthroned afterwards.’’
Contributing, Prof Alex Asigbo of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, said the issue of negative politicking and social media thuggery was assuming a dangerous trend that needed to be addressed.
Asigbo, who is the National Secretary of NAS, said there was the need for youths to be more discerning and avoid politicians preying on their emotions and using them for selfish reasons.
He said the Seadogs were worried about what is happening ahead of the Anambra Governorship election on Nov. 18, and want the youth to take charge of their future by not selling their consciences for money and lacking the moral ground to hold their leaders responsible.
“Social media warriors should stop, we should rather discuss the manifestoes of these politicians and how they intend to achieve them because the campaigns so far lack issues.
“These politicians don’t insult each other, they don’t post those things on social media, so why the youth, the electorates should become more discerning,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Ikechukwu Onwuemene said the summit was part of the programmes of NAS aimed at brainstorming on issues that were important to the society.
Onwuemene, who is the Vice Chairman of the Anambra chapter of NAS, expressed confidence that the summit would go a long way to redirect the minds of youths who were critical stakeholders on the election to more result-oriented political positioning.