By: Moshood Muhammed
Year 2016 has been greatly remarkable in the life of our dear country and acclaimed giant of Africa, Nigeria. Similarly, same was witnessed the year before. It’s indeed true that this nation is richly blessed and loved by the most high God.
Despite being hugely blessed, our major problem emanates from leadership quagmire; it’s no more news that the same set of people have continued to parade the corridors of power, not leaving the sons and daughters of nobody the opportunity of having a taste of what leadership of the country looks like. By this, the Nigerian state, the most populous human black skinned country in the whole world can be said to have been ‘concessioned’ to a few.
If the country had been good and things turn out as they ought to be, perhaps, we as the people would still be deep in slumber, not minding what is being done to us by the old cargos at the helm of affairs. But, reverse is sadly the case. This was why, coupled with other factors the reason why the then ruling PDP were sacked from the Aso Rock. That done, Nigeria elected a former military ruler cum Septuagenarian as President in 2015.
That APC led government which drove to power on the campaign for CHANGE has no doubt and regrettably continued in the ‘oldness’ of the erstwhile ruling party. This government has many past leaders, who once served in various capacities appointed and elected into many offices across board. Someone like Audu Ogbe, 69, is today a federal Minister was a one-time Deputy Speaker of Benue, Minister of Communications and later Minister of Steel before becoming national chairman of PDP in year 2001 while David Mark, 68, served as Senate President between 2007-2015 and was re-elected to represent Benue state as a member, would have been in the National Assembly for twenty years in 2019. This same man had served as military governor of Niger State between 1984-1986. The list is endless.
Like Nigeria, most African countries and indeed other countries of the world have suffered same fate. Though, Africa appears the most hit; the continent prides in much older leaders as heads of government.
As a way of integrating and ensuring the participation of youths in governance, the Nigerian National Assembly, specifically the lower chamber had a bill presented before it by Hon.Tony Nwulu, representative of Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency II of Lagos state on June 2016. Similarly, the United Nations launched a global campaign Not Too Young To Run was launched at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law taking place at United Nations Geneva.
The campaign, launched by a partnership consisting of the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the European Youth Forum (EYF) and the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), aims to elevate the promotion of young people’s right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.
Obviously, the need to further empower the youths’ participation in governance has captured the world attention. There, can we say the CHANGE is here?
Not Too Young To Run bill before the NASS seeks to reduce the constitutional age requirement for running for elective office in Nigeria. The ultimate goal of the bill is to promote increased youth participation in the political process. The bill which seek to alter the Section 65, 106, 131, 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to reduce the age qualification for the Office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25.
The bill also seeks to make provision for independent candidacy in the Nigeria’s electoral laws in order to strengthen and increase the competitiveness of the political process. It has subsequently passed the 1st and 2nd reading stage in the House of Representatives. It is now before the Committee on Constitution Review.
It is a good move, one may say. But, how good?
For many reasons, the bill if passed may not be too good for Nigeria, even though it will force so many career politicians and working pensioners to proceed on compulsory retirement, yet, can the present crop of youths live up to expectations? Many reasons are responsible for the doubts.
Nigerian youths of today, which I’m one of have been badly or ineffectually educated. While poverty has remained a major cog, those who have managed to go through the stages of western education are mostly half baked. The result of this is evident in the ‘quality’ of graduates churned out on yearly basis by the Nigerian tertiary institutions. Reason for this sentiment is that most of the youths are merely interested in the paper-certificate due for collection after their respective programmes, without showing interest in what comes thereafter. It’s just and pitiably a case of “fulfilling all righteousness”.
Secondly, the present generation of youth which can be regarded as the PRESSURE POT GENERATION has proven to be super smart in making ways to gather wealth and riches illegally. This has been exhibited by massive looting of treasuries in various groups and associations where they are members. Students’ Union leaders have siphoned monies meant for good of the entire students while abuse of power has continued unabated. Others involve in internet fraud, prostitutions, money rituals and a host of ungodly acts just to make a living. Can these set of people be trusted with our collective heritage as a nation? Wouldn’t the experience of their leadership be brutal than those of the previous years?
Another germane issue is the bad impression about Nigerian government and absence of proper moral training. I’ve had the chance of meeting people, elderly women and parents, by extension telling their wards to do well in their academics so s/he could make it to any political offices so that their sorrow could come to an end. In short, they have repeatedly tauntingly say; “I’m sending you to school so you could become a politician and bring home fortunes for me and our family”. The truth here is, since many have stolen from the country’s coffers and no serious punishment has been meted out, others are also looking out for a chance to draw from the “national well”.
In the same vein, most of our country’s graduates are barely a party to national issues cum affairs; their love for trivialities over solitude is nuli secondus. A testament of this was witnessed during the last Headies Award; the cyber space, largely dominated by the Nigerian youths went up in flames of discussions of the entertainment award in the country. Yet, this same set of people have barely given so much time to debate and dissect issues of national importance, as it was done before, during and after the show. That left me wondering if at all, this same set of people were on ground when the 2017 budget was presented to the House, when screening of the ambassadorial nominees was held among serious national issues that were on air in the concluding year.
Similarly, politics requires a fairly humongous amount of money. With the level of poverty and unemployment in the land, how will youths between ages 25 and slightly above be able to financially prosecute campaign for elections in Nigeria, where our political victory is determined by one’s financial muscle? I beg to say the career politicians and heavy bags will continue to dictate the tune of the country’s politics and we may not be close to leaving the shackles of having old cargos in power. By this, ruling by proxy will be the order of the day. Where then is the change? Where is the youth participation?
May I need say that I’m not against the bill. Infact, it is one bill that has been longed for, but, it beckons on us as youths to utilize the opportunity the bill will afford us should it become a law, to from now on think afresh. In other words, there is a need for us as a community to take our destiny into our hands and be ready to make things work for this country, if we must rule.
Also, all those who have chosen the “siddon dey look” attitude perhaps because they are religious, hyper-ambitious, outside of governance, leadership and politics among others, should be weary of the type of leaders that make it to the seat of power. This is because we are as good or poor, as the case may be as those who are at the helm of affairs in this country. The saying; “if you allow a fool to rule you, then, you will be ruled by the ideas of the fool” will be so relevant to us.
Should the Nigerian youths refuse to be bought over, reject negotiation of being used to cause unrest during elections with little inducement, with our population, we can and we will surely see the end of the oldies at the seat of power. I agree our leaders are not responsible, but we (the youths), with our current ways are not also prepared to be responsible leaders some day.
Until we decide to take back our country and show them that we can make the REAL CHANGE happens, we may forever remain TOO YOUNG TO RULE