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Kola Oyeneyin: Now That the Government is Listening, it’s Time for a Dialogue



Dear Nigerian Youth,

Welcome to power. At last, our Gen Z, supported by millennials, become the generation to claim a degree of power and are able to get an arm of government to make concessions, albeit still far from the target. With power comes responsibility and expectations. Now the question is, What next?

Listen, whether you like it or not, you will have to dialogue. Dialogue is both a language of protest, as it is of diplomacy. While you’re upset, and rightly so, remember that you’re not tyrants, and without dialogue, everything could be seen as noise.

The challenge of a leaderless protest is how do you dialogue? Who represents you? How do you hold them accountable? How do you ensure that the sacrifices made so far are not in vain? How do you ensure that the youth remain at the forefront of it? I’ll come to that shortly. Firstly, let’s understand these 5 principles of dialogue or negotiation:

  • Think win-win, not win-loss.
  • Understand interests and know yours.
  • Constantly put proposals that benefit the youth forward.
  • Think ‘sooner’ and ‘faster’; be 1 step ahead.
  • Not everyone is an enemy, identify allies.

Back to the question, who represents or dialogues on your behalf? Here are things you can do to ensure smooth dialogue and negotiation: (Note: These are my ideas. They’re not perfect, and you don’t have to listen to me or accept my suggestion.)

  • Democratize/decentralize the process.
  • Throw up the names of those that you trust, who started this protest and have been in the trenches with you so far, on and offline.
  • Possibly set up an online voting platform.
  • Select the top 4-5 from this voting platform.
  • Entrust them with your mandate.
  • Demand that meetings are live-streamed so all Nigerians can watch.
  • Demand transparency at all times.
  • No protest should ever be called off until all Nigerian youths agree with the resolutions.
  • Whatever you do, don’t collect money from the government for anything.

While all the fun, food, and music are great, there are some things to do in order to remain focused and ensure our demands are met. These things must begin now:

  • At the end of every day, in the same decentralized manner that protest has been organized so far, check if the objectives of the protest have been met.
  • If yes, set up an online monitory platform to monitor the implementation of what’s agreed (either from the dialogues or by an announcement), and announce a timeline for returning to the streets, if any is broken.
  • If no, protest continues.

This is my two cents. Having been burnt by at least two major protests in Nigeria because we were not proactive and strategic, I owe it to God to ensure that you all don’t experience the same pain and agony that we all have experienced.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to provide the usual daily advice and guide from the sideline, and will be out again to join you like I did earlier on. I stand with you and I fully support this cause.

May God bless you all, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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