Prof. James Arrey Abangma, Political Scientist, University of Buea.
Can you give an appraisal of youth involvement in the political life of the country?
Politics can be categorized into the formal and informal dimensions. Formal politics refers to the youth participating in electoral processes, voting, campaigns, making financial contributions, running for elections and other legally required actions. Informal politics on the other hand includes taking part in riots and civil strikes. Generally, political participation is a habit of the middle class which unfortunately most youths are not found in that category.
What could be responsible for the lukewarm attitude of youths with regards to political issues vis-à-vis their numerical strength?
In my opinion, they are lukewarm because they think they do not fit in any political class. They are neither of the bourgeoisies nor the middle class of political figures. Politics requires the wisdom, cunning, leadership and managerial skills. Given that most of these youths do not have greater opportunities, they become unenthusiastic in formal politics and rather more active in informal politics.
What impact do the youths have on the political affairs of the nation?
They advocate for a change of the status quo of things in the political landscape of the country. The youthful population is thus very versed with technology and other evolving machinery. Our society is faced with the dilemma of the youth advocating for faster change more than the older generation can accommodate. This to an extent discourages the youths which pushes some of them to be radical causing social tension between both classes. This is simply because it is not easy to give up positions occupied for long especially with the addition of skill and experience over the years.
What recommendations do you propose for a more inclusive youthful participation in national political activities?
Greater transparency in the political activities of the country will encourage the youths to actively participate in all related processes. This is because, they will tend to gain more confidence in the way political actions are piloted given that accountability will be the watch word. In addition, providing enabling conditions for the inclusion of women and the youth in the society will greatly help change the status quo. However, going by the Michaels Iron Law of Oligarchy, when new persons come up and occupy a certain position, they become autocrats in the long run.