Not-Too-Young-To-Run: Too early to celebrate
The long drawn out process of tinkering Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution has brought to the fore, the allure to correct the innumerable inconsistencies embedded in the military-cooked script.
Amidst the seemingly unending and somewhat confusing - oscillation of this argument among the political constituents, the legislature at the centre adamantly forged on, culminating in an electronic vote by lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly, recently. And if anything, the action of the lawmakers did very little to sack the negative perception prominent among the army of doubting ‘Thomases’ out there. More so, when some of the thorny clauses in the Constitution appear in direct nexus with covert attempt to solidify the position of the Legislative arm of government.
As these young paladins continue celebrate what is, of course, a commendable bargain in the political market, it is equally instructive to caution them against being consumed in the euphoria.
One is forced, thus, to inquire: Are Nigerian youth ready for power?
If all that is needed to occupy elective positions in a democracy at least in the Nigerian context - is sheer willpower and scholarship excellence, then, one can hardly discard the undeniable fact that younger Nigerians are holding their own in virtually every field of human endeavors, the world over. In what is fast becoming a consuetude, products of Nigeria’s struggling education system now graduate top of many renowned Ivy Leagues in the West.
Unfortunately, where it ends.
To start with, few young Nigerians whose shot at power have succeeded, especially since 1999, were able to justify the argument that youth are anything but different when entrusted with power. From the word go, Salisu Buhari plunged the country into political chaos with his infamous Toronto certificate saga amongst other fraudulent acts. Not to mention the likes of Anyim Pius Anyim, Dimeji Bankole and a certain Farouk Lawan - all relatively young but riddled with allegations of financial improbity - while their stints as principal members of both the Senate and House of Reps lasted. At the moment, Kogi’s Yayaha Bello is the youngest State Chief Executive in Nigeria, at 42. Sadly, his administration, so far, enjoys notoriety for unrestrained appetite in fighting almost everyone in sight - from politics to education, to civil service, and so on.
Ask a 35-year-old Nigerian on the streets of Lagos or Abuja why he/ she thinks age limit (over the years) it seems that is hindered youth from rescuing the system from the old, conservative plutocrats at the helm, and don’t be too shocked that his/her response would be incomplete without referencing French President, Emmanuel Macron. Regrettably, such respondents are often armed with sickly ignorance of the trajectory of the 39-year-old and how he combined his relative academic brilliance with administrative apprenticeship to garner enviable political clout through years of service as Minister under President Francois Hollande.
To submit that youths in Nigeria are eternally incapable of being trusted with political offices is tantamount to suggesting that the country, itself, does have no future. However, the narrative must, henceforth, tilt towards engendering an orientation that these hugely talented individuals can do more within their immediate communes and blossom to higher grounds, politically. A situation where an 80-year-old Pa Lateef Jakande would defile rains to vote in Lagos State local council polls while a gang of able-bodied youths - with profound biceps - was pictured downing bottles of beer in the midst of flood, on the same day, speaks volume of the appreciation or otherwise of what is at stake.
Funmilola Ajala, Lagos.