By Tunde Eso, President of Fix Nigeria Group and 2018 Osun State Governorship Aspirant
My vision is to ensure that my twenty-one-year pregnancy for Africa gives birth to young and dynamic visionary leaders that will elicit new political ideology, educational growth, industrial advancement, political stability, provision of constant supply of electricity and security among other dividends of good governance for an enviable continent where other peoples of the world would want to reside.
In 2013, I put together in my book Vision for Africa my thoughts to awaken the consciousness of progressive minded youths in Africa towards taking their destinies in their hands politically, economically and socially by using the principles of the new system of government that I refer to as Youthocracy which is a “government of the people, by the youth and for the people” Youthocracy is majorly to ensure leadership shift for pragmatic development in Africa and the rest of the world.
It is right to say that the quality of leadership is important for Africa to rise up and take its rightful place. Objectively, Youthocracy will be a driving strategy to attaining lasting development through the injection of new political ideology by the youth.
Africans should liberate themselves from the primitive thought of embracing rotational system of government that yields tribal and endemic political control of power.
Conversely, having painstakingly studied political strategies in Africa, I discovered that Africa has three groups of leaders that have been presented within three generations. Generation one: Those that led in the 50s and 60s, like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. The legacies they left was that they fought for independence. They freed us from colonialism and were commended for their efforts. They were followed by generation two that wreaked havoc on the continent. One hero said, if one thinks of fighting corruption, human rights abuses, mismanagement of public funds they became champions and stereotypes of African leaders the West makes reference to today. He said that generation had moved on and have been replaced by generation three with the likes of late Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He is not saying they are perfect but have helped to clean up much of the mess of generation two. For stopping the fight and improving macroeconomic policies, he described them as the stabilizer generation.
Presently, Africa’s increasing wealth and economic liberation has brought up a new breed of businessmen that do not rely on political connections and thus are able to raise their voices against abuses in their country in the likes of Aliko Dangote, Folorunsho Alakija and Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese billionaire philanthropist.
I am not happy as Africa has for about four decades become a laughing stock among comity of nations; some of its leaders are more than 90 years while others are just beginning new terms in office. Where do they want to lead the continent to?
Most African leaders are by nature greedy for power. It has become obvious that the external influence which was thought to be responsible for the misbehavior of African leaders was in fact not responsible for Africa’s misfortune over leadership.
What are the factors behind this irrational quest for power and the unwillingness to relinquish same? Insecurity of life outside power, economic gains, political influence and more are some of the factors that have kept genuine democracy away from most African countries. Without these and other factors, what else could have made Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast cling to power until his disgraceful removal even when the whole world acknowledged that he lost re-election through free and fair election? What else could have kept Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in power for 42 years until his country came under rebel attacks and no fly zone imposed by allied forces?
The style of leadership in Gabon and Togo has been that of dynasty by two families and there are many examples of sit-tight dictators in Africa.
Few examples of such leaders readily come to mind.
Felix Houphouet-Boigny was President of Cote d’Ivoire for 33 years. At his death, he was the third longest serving head of state in the world, after Fidel Castro of Cuba and Kim II Sung of North Korea. He was the first President of Cote d’Ivoire, and died in office as president.
At over 80 years old, he was reported to have said: “I refuse to grow old, so that I can serve my country and Africa.” Yamoussoukro was Houphouet-Boigny’s village; he attempted to replace Abidjan with it as the nation’s capital. A lot of money was sunk into the fruitless exercise. It was only after his death that the capital was transferred back to Abidjan.
Gnassingbe Eyadema was president of Togo for 38 years. He came in through a coup d’état and refused to leave until his death. Eyadema ran Togo as a personal estate. He made his mother the mother of the nation and made her birthday a national day. Under him, Togo was militarized. An entourage of 1000 beautiful women sang his praises everywhere, as did highly indoctrinated school children. When you heard a siren in the streets of Lome, you must drop whatever you were doing and clap ecstatically, on the understanding that it must be the president passing by. Eyadema ruled Togo as a ruthless dictator. If you opposed him, you are likely to be killed.
Muammar Gaddafi was the leader of Libya for 42 years; which made him Africa’s longest serving head of state. Once he seized power through a coup d’état in 1969, he had no intention of relinquishing it. He held on to it until he was killed by his own people in 2011.
The leadership of Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, both of Liberia and Idi Amin of Uganda went the same way. The same thing with former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, who spent 23 years (1988 – 2011), he dictated the tunes; Tunisians danced for 23 years until he was deposed by the new political wave that pervaded the Arab world; Hosni Mubarak of Egypt had 30 years (1981 – 2011) before Egyptians kicked him out of office. Many of them did not see the possible continuous existence of their countries beyond their leadership.
There are 54 independent countries in Africa and 90 percent of their presidents are between the age 70 and 95. Here are some of them, their country and age as at 2017.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe (37years – since 1980), Robert Mugabe, 93, has been in power for 37 years. He had just unwillingly stepped down as president though negotiations with the army. President Mohammed Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria became the country president at the age of 72.He is regarded as the oldest person to become Nigeria’s President; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became President of Liberia at age 70 in 2006. She is currently 81; Jacob Zuma of South Africa is 75 years old. President Peter Mutharika of Malawi was 74 when he was sworn in on 31 May, 2014. He will be president till 2019 at 79 years, President Alpha Conde of Guinea is now 77 years old and he was sworn-in in December 2011 at 72 years, President Jose Eduardo Santos of Angola is 72 years.
And he will be president till 2020 at 78 years; President Abde Bourtefilka of Algeria is 77 years old and will be in office till 2020 at 83 years old, President Alasanne Quattara of Ivory Coast was 72 years in 2012, and will be President till 2016 at 76 years.
Conversely, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has been president since 1985. He won another seven year term in 2013 at 77 years, and will be president till 2020 at 84. President Jose Mujiaga of Uruguay was 75 years old when elected. He is now 79 years. President Tedoro Oblang Nguema Mbasogo, Equatorial Guinea, was born January 6, 1942. He is 72 years and still going on.
President Michael Sata, Zambia, is 77 years-old. He became president September 23, 2011 at 74, and will rule till 2016 when he will be 79. President Paul Biya of Cameroon is 81 years old. He will be in office till 2017 at age 84 years.
Every progressive minded young African should be angry about the gerontocratic nature of our governance. But that is not enough, the youth must also wake up from their slumber because power is not easily attained; one must struggle for it. Power will not get to the youth on a platter of gold. They must come out of their cocoons and begin to make sacrifices in search for power.
From the analysis I have made and for the youth to identify themselves with the quest to do away with capitalism Abraham Lincoln coined Democracy for people to identify with. For the youth to identify with, I have coined a new system of government known as Youthocracy which is a system of government of the people, by the youth and for the people, that will entrench the reign of the youth in Africa which the world can emulate for the benefit of mankind.
We must all pay attention to grooming the set of generation of youthful leadership in a strategic succession plan for Youthocracy to ensure pragmatic development through leadership generational shift in Africa.
The content of my book is an article of truth, which should be adhered to as a new philosophy that will entrench true democracy in Africa and make Africa a better place for all nations.
The book contains the vision I have for Africa and the rest of the world. Youthocracy invariably means government will be controlled by the youths for freedom, liberty and socio-political and economic well-being of the people. This is much like democracy. The difference is that youths will be the key players in the helm of affairs to inject new ideology and development.
By Tunde Eso,2018 Osun State Governorship Aspirant,
Author, Vision for Africa and African Security Solution