Newsie Events:- #Opinion By Caleb Onyeabor
Recent public demonstrations from the youth population in Nigeria has led to an outbreak of patriotic frenzy and nationalistic concerns about the state of the biggest black nation on earth.
Young demonstrators riding on the protests and agitation against police brutality have raised concerns over several other socio-political and economic issues fuelled by the single factor of bad leadership. This has prompted some young persons to flaunt a youth party and demand a total rejection of gerontocracy in Nigeria’s political realm.
Why there are several benefits of youths in leadership and governance, the Nigerian experiment, if it comes to pass, will bear no tangible results, if the underlying factors responsible for the chaotic leadership of the current political leaders aren’t addressed. It will be like replacing an old tree for not bearing fruits with a new tree but the soil on which they were planted remain the same. The young tree will bear no fruit.
The corruption and anachronism in leadership is not just a thing of the old, it is cancer that has subsumed even a significant percentage of the youth population.
Nigeria’s political system is built with systemic deficiencies where power is a means to primitive accumulation, self-exaltation, and elevation. Practical instances abound of young persons who notoriously abuse powers even more than the old do.
The first 25 years after independence, Nigeria’s leadership seat was dominated by young persons. Gowon was just 31 when he ascended the throne and supervised what historians described as horrendously corrupt. Gowon was not an old man when he declared that Nigeria had more money that the problem is what to spend it on. His regime paved way for large-scale corruption and massive embezzlement of public funds that the administration of Murtala Mohammed was faced with huge debris and bin to clear In its short time. Buhari was not an old man when he became head of state and supervised one of the most draconian eras in Nigeria’s political history. Babangida was not an old man when he plunged the Nigerian economy into a mess that it is yet to recover from. The regime of government was notorious for using state power to serve personal interests and settle political friends and cronies. All these were supported by young military officers who served as governors, administrators, and holders of one or more public officers. In fact, bad leadership from young persons contributed to the sorry state that Nigeria is in today. Unfortunately, these young men have continued to rule in their old age despite having nothing to bring to the table.
Are the young ones who find themselves in leadership positions today any different? The answer is unfortunately in the negative. Leaders of student unions and national youth associations in this country are young persons who are exhibiting the same character that young Gowon, young Buhari, and young Babangida exhibited during their time. We have young leaders who lavish wealth in the organizations that they lead. SUG presidents embezzling student monies, NANS leaders looting and colliding with political elites to deprive students of better welfare. We have visionless young persons serving as local government chairmen across various local governments in Nigeria, we have young persons appointed into different positions of leadership in ministries, agencies, and government departments. We have morally bankrupt and empty young persons who have served and are currently serving as members of state assemblies and national house of assembly. Dimeji Bankole, a one-time young speaker of the house, supervised a worm filled spell and corruption infested era as the number 4 citizen of the country. Of recent, there is a young bulldog in Kogi, whose youthfulness did not excuse his incompetence, obsolete and Armageddon headed style of leadership. Or is it the young senator who broke the internet not for sponsoring transformative legislation but for being a woman beater? Look around you, you will see youth leaders who are even worse than the old leaders we have had. A clear case of negation where there is an element of the old in the new and an element of the new in the old.
Good leadership is not a thing of age. There have been older transformative leaders who led great transformation in their countries and there are young leaders who have proven that the young can do great things too.
Merely replacing all members of the current political class with young persons will not necessarily translate into development in Nigeria if the systemic factors fueling bad governance in the country are not addressed. First and foremost, political office must be made unattractive and a system that makes it impossible for political office holders to amass wealth for themselves using state power should be put in place. A constitutional change and reform of institutions are needed to check and balance the excesses of rogue individuals in power. A system that enthrones merits over mediocrity, tribal and religious sentiments, should be set up to prevent those malevolent and empty youths from ascending to power. Without a formidable system of transparency and accountability, we will have young persons who will only continue the wonders we are seeing today in NDDC, NNPC, and other corrupt government institutions. In the end, the good leadership Nigeria deserves will be elusive.
There are not so young persons who can give us the kind of leadership we deserve and there are young persons who can as well give us that transformative leadership that has been the missing link in Nigeria’s quest for development.
Finally, as to whether we need youths or the elderly in power, I think the focus should be on creating a system that ensures that only the best get that Opportunity.
Caleb Onyeabor is a Nigerian intellectual, an avid advocate for political justice, social justice, and economic justice. Author of Diary of a Messed Up country. Follow him on Twitter via twitter.com/caleb_onyeabor
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Newsie Events:- #Opinion By Caleb Onyeabor