Monday, May 28, 2018

2019: Why We Must Vote In Young Nigerians

By Dan Amor
At the dawn of civil rule in 1999, after about fifteen years of uninterrupted military gangsterism, rapacity and greed, there emerged on the nation's political firmament, an assembly of politicians and professionals under the age bracket of 50 years, the National Integration Group (NIG). The group's aim was ostensibly to re-engineer the Nigerian public life and take over the mantle of political leadership from the old brigade. There were, indeed, conflicting reactions to the development.
*Gov Yahaya Bello of Kogi State:
Nigeria's youngest governor 
While some Nigerians believed that the group had ulterior motives, and therefore its mission preposterous, many believed and still believe that amidst the despair that has enveloped the nation, there is an obvious need to call to question the desirability of continuing with business as usual. This issue has remained prominent in the upper reaches of our national discourse especially given the woeful failure of the old generation of politicians to improve the standard of living of the people and engender positive development in the country since independence.

It is interesting to note that the old generation of politicians are men and women whose political credentials contain exploits as nationalists who agitated against colonial rule, gained political power from the white man at independence. While some of them are former military rulers who truncated our democratic foundations and institutions, others are traditional politicians who collaborated with all the military regimes from 1966 till 1999. Some of them served in almost all the elected parliaments, etcetera. Yet, it must be argued that in spite of the tragic failures that the country has regrettably witnessed on the political scene, we still continue to recycle these people as though the nation is not capable of generational reproduction. It does not speak well of our political system if those who call the shots presently are those who have always done so thirty/forty years ago. Perhaps, the most disturbing aspect of this sordid development is the obvious unwillingness on the part of these people to know when their times are up.
While it is patently true that the law regards any person of adult age to be competent to play politics, and that in politics there is no retirement age, it is however true that nature itself has set certain limits for all human beings. The worse that could happen to a nation in this day and age is for it to keep recycling leaders who continue to proffer solutions of yesteryears to contemporary problems. There is also the dreaded disease of senility which attacks very old persons, making it pretty difficult for them to apply adequate logic to their sense of judgement and critical observation. This, by itself, is a natural disqualification. It should naturally be the ambition of every hardworking person that some day he or she would retire to savour the fruit of his or her labour. Not so for Nigerian politicians. They would rather die on the job than to retire honorably and at the fullness of their lives. It is pathetic to see a 76 year old man who has ruled the country as military dictator and is ruling as a democratically elected president still angling to continue in power even when he is in and out of the hospital due to his failing health. Therefore, what is it in Nigerian politics that makes it impossible for practitioners to say: "we have passed our time and we must retire"?
This argument should not be misconstrued to mean that the old brigades are totally useless. Far from it! They are always there for the young ones to consult as elder statesmen, senior citizens and even as political party elders and as repositories of natural wisdom. Indeed, there is great wisdom in the saying that "the young shall grow". But this must be under the supervision of the old. While it is obvious that Nigeria, for instance, cannot afford to ignore the advice of people like Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, Peter Rufai, etcetera, on matters relating to soccer, it would be difficult to suggest that because they were stars in their days, they should be called upon to prosecute the 2018 World Cup for Nigeria. That is exactly what we do when we recycle our moribund and tired old politicians as presidents, governors or even ministers. It's even more saddening and disheartening when it is glaring that none of them was a star when he was much younger. This has left Nigeria in throes 19 years into the so-called democratic dispensation.
Admittedly, Nigerian youths have largely been misguided in favour of crass materialism rather than a genuine drive to provide leadership to a nation which has been run aground by inept self-serving leaders over the years. It is equally true that it was from the rank of the youth that there emerged implacable defenders of military dictatorships and entrenched privileges in the country. But one thing is self evident: Nigeria can only carry on successfully as a nation state if she learns to groom her young ones the right way. To continue to hold the view that the youths are incapable of providing responsible and dynamic leadership is to stunt their potentials. The impressive performances of the Pat Utomis, the Wale Tinubus, the Femi Otedolas, the Aliko Dangote's, etcetera, in the private sector of the national economy is proof of the innate propensity amongst young people to excel in life. Also, it would be recalled that notable Nigerian political leaders such as the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, etcetera, did their best when they were young. The quality of leadership Chief Awolowo gave to the defunct Western Region between his mid-thirties and early fifties could stand the test of time anywhere in the world.
It is therefore heartwarming that there exists a group of young people drumming support for the emergence of a new crop of leadership in the country to be made up of young, healthy, well-educated, articulate and progressive professionals to take up the challenge of leading this large country in tune with the 21st century standards. How sad can it be if the Obasanjos, the Babangidas, the Buhari's, etcetera, continue to mislead Nigeria in the second decade of the 21st century! This is not to say that the youths should be spiteful of our Senior Citizens who have held forte till now. What is needed is a well-organized inter-generational transition process which will ensure that the old are not only around to guide the youth but mature enough to allow them master the intricacies of party politics. This is according to the natural order of things: the old must hand over to the young in this endless transition in nature. It is only required of the younger generation to pay adequate respect to their elders knowing full well that, very soon, they too, will move over to the group of the aged.
Consequently, there is empirical evidence worldwide of power being consistently passed down to much younger age groups. Whether we speak of Great Britain, the United States of America, Germany or France, the practice now is for younger people to assume the mantle of national leadership. And as the Holy Book tells us, the old shall merely dream while the young shall see vision. Nigerian youths must wake up from slumber and move beyond the glint of phraseology. Nigerians want to hear from young and brilliant people such as Pastor Ituah Ighodalo, MB Marwa, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, Donald Duke, etcetera, to appreciate their vision for Nigeria. This way, the nation can benefit from the enterprising current of young people. For, as the Holy Bible also tells us, the young shall be known by their strength. Therefore, let the young and capable emerge as contenders in the 2019 presidential race in all the political parties

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