By Gharny Yeku
The 2023 political campaign has really exposed how ignorant most Nigerian Youths are about issues of politics, governance and economics.
It is not bad to be ignorant about issues. It is bad when you are not open to learning, especially when such ignorance is called out.
I laugh when people whine and go poetic about youth leadership, as if there is some competence embedded in youths or something. What many failed to recall what “The Youths” did to this country. How old was Yakubu Gowon when he took office? How old were members of his cabinet?
Nothing has changed. Same old same. Elect people based on competence. Nigerian youths should thus parade and position themselves for political offices based on leadership competence, not the deafening chants of ‘We Are The Youths’ mantra. It goes beyond the mere exclamatory proclamation!
These were all young people back then. Younger than the youngest lawmaker in today’s National Assembly. In their late 20s and early 30s. A lot of them were idealists, in the days of the cold war. Visionaries. Yet they damaged this country in a way we still feel the impact till date. Major Kaduna Nzeogwu and his brother-in-arms wrecked a flawed yet functional regional federal system of government, and since then, the nation has never been the same.
Nigeria is where is it right now partly because we let a 32-year-old unelected youth rule us in the past through military ascension. What does a 32-year-old soldier know about life and the yearnings of the civilians, the real people?
I know you might be tempted to say that the past action of some youths should not mean we should be left to suffer the consequences of such actions and discourage youth participation in the policy and politics of the country. Nothing has changed. Same old same. Elect people based on competence. Nigerian youths should thus parade and position themselves for political offices based on leadership competence, not the deafening chants of ‘We Are The Youths’ mantra. It goes beyond the mere exclamatory proclamation!
…and argue further that there is an increase in the numbers of educated youths, when in fact, most of these men were more educated than most people you can point to as youths in politics today. Polished English, schooled by the British, did several courses abroad, and far more blended into the fabric of the then nascent Nigeria and its politics.
I am not saying contemporary youths should pay for the sins of the past. I am just saying people should stop focusing so much on age. How old is Joe Biden? How old was Lee Kuan Yaw when he transformed Singapore? How old is this legendary Malaysian President? How old was Ronald Reagan when he was elected into office?
I am a big fan of competent, experienced and diligent leadership. If that person is 80 years and competent, I do not care. The youths have as much stake as old people and kids in this country. The country belongs to everyone. Being a youth does not give anyone a special stake, or automatically conferred competence to lead.
Let us end the delusion.
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