2015 is another general elections year and so, my friend Opeyemi Tegbe takes us through the world of politics. I hope you’d enjoy this piece as much as I did.
Anyone who keeps a track on political happenings in Nigeria would have observed that most of the political offices in Nigeria are being occupied by the same set of people who have been in the corridors of power since the second republic. Thus, the general saying that youths are leaders of tomorrow is gradually becoming a mere promissory statement as far as youth participation in Nigeria’s leadership structure is concerned. Recycled leadership is one of the reasons why some of our youths are jobless and indisposed.
For the sake of clarity, I will like to cite an example of what I mean by ‘recycled leadership.’ In 1993, I remember vividly when I was in primary school(class 2), our teacher gave us an assignment to mention the names of past Nigerian presidents from 1960. Our teacher attached a reward to this assignment as we were required to present the assignment individually at the assembly ground and if you got it right, all the pupils would not only clap for you but also chant your name as ‘the leader of tomorrow.’ For our age, it was indeed a very sensitive reward. As kids, we all cherished this reward and decided to put in our best. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari were some of the names mentioned as leaders of yesterday. After 1993, one of the duo ruled Nigeria again for 8yrs and the other has been perennially jostling to be the president of Nigeria since 1999 till date. How I wish I can see my teacher right now and ask her a simple question – when will my tomorrow come? Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to campaign for/against any aspirant for the forthcoming general election.
Even our recycled leaders are aware of the jinx that stops the youths from being relevant in Nigerian politics. Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, posited that Nigerian youths must be given the chance to participate actively in the political leadership of the country. The governor stated this in a paper titled “Youth and the Future of Nigerian Politics’’ delivered at the 50th anniversary lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan,
“Enough is enough of the system that makes the youth political touts and bouncers. They must be effectively included in general party decision-making and leadership structure of all political parties.”
However, the incumbent governor of my native state tied the participation of youths to a condition. He said:
“If the youth of this country must indeed be leaders of tomorrow, we must stop recycling grey-haired leaders in this country. There is no gainsaying the fact that the same set of people who had been ruling the country in the last 30-40 years are still the recurrent factors in rulership today.”
I am so glad that this statement was made by a 65 years old man who was a senator from 2003 to 2007 before emerging as the Oyo state governor in 2011.
Now that we are aware of one of the impediments for youth participation in politics, the next question should be – how do we remove it? In 2003, the World Bank came up with some submissions after the successful completion of a project tagged ‘WHERE LIES THE WEALTH OF A NATION?’ The research programme submitted that a nation must first develop her human resources before any other development can take place. This explains why countries with abundant natural resources are getting poorer and the ones with little or no natural resources are getting richer. The programme emphatically highlighted youth empowerment as a means to developing human resources in a nation.
Generally, I believe that empowerment is a product of good economic and educational system. These are two key means to empowerment of not only the youths of a country but also the entire citizenry. In the present scheme of things where the youths are jobless and cannot boast of a ‘today’, it would be very difficult to promise a tomorrow for them. All efforts must thus be made to ensure that the youth are leaders of their stomachs today before we can consider them fit for leadership of the nation tomorrow.