Democratically, if there is a nation which does not place premium on its youths’ participation in governance, such nation would be inclined towards anarchism.
Youth involvement in politics, across the world, is no longer news as even now, greatly known world leader are more of the younger generation.
Undoubtedly, most nations of the world often draw strength from the existence of inclusive governance of both the old and the young, but more importantly, the agility of the youths in politics contributes greatly to the development of a nation. As a matter of interest, great world leaders such as Emmanual Macron of France (became a leader at 39), Sebastian Kurts(31)-the Austrian Chancellor, Enid Dimitrev of Macedonia (38), Leo Varadkar of Ireland (39) are fresh bloods with impeccable leadership traits.
The old British colony (Nigeria), no doubt, has a gigantic youthful populace with 45% constituting her population. But it is abysmal to identify that however big this percentage is, the youths, in recent years, have shown an alarming decline of interest in politics. Is it as a result of the Gambian notion that “even in old age, the lion lives with power and strength,” that the young could not proclaim their might?
A PEEP TO THE NIGERIAN POLITICAL SCENE
The evolution of politics in Nigeria is traceable to the colonial era where first, the British colonial masters through indirect rule, implanted the native chiefs in the governing activities (of exploitation and oppression) of the indigenous people under the amalgamated Southern and Northern Protectorates called Nigeria. Gradually, some elites educated under the imperialism were soon ripe to have some says on their fatherland’s matters. This privilege came quickly under the 1922 Clifford constitution wherein political participation and activities of Nigerians such as formation of political parties, elective representation into Legislative council were permitted.
Fast forward to the present, the Nigerian political landscape is critically viewed as one premised on the notion that the foundational rulers are still much on the moving pivots of governance. The like of Muhammedu Buhari (a former Military Head, now President), David Mark, Bukola Saraki (former Govenor, now Senate President), Olusegun Obasanjo (former Military and President) still hold the whims and caprices of the country directly or indirectly. The saying that ‘the beautyful ones are not yet born’ because the old and the ugly refuse to die is an alluded reality of the Nigerian political situation. Nigerian politics is not just unrepresentative of a very young population; it is also grossly unrepresentative of the society in terms of gender.
NOT TOO YOUNG TO RULE LAW
At the pronouncement of the passage of the age reduction bill into law, Nigeria was engulfed in the euphoria of the pleasing news. As explained earlier, youth involvement in political activities would help move out the wheels of growth and development away from the muddy waters of redundancy. This was demonstrated in the heydays of Nigeria.
From history’s book, the giant of Africa has had a crop of young bloods overseeing her affairs after the white men’s withdrawal from the shore of old British colony (Nigeria). The unperturbed efforts of these young freedom fighters have in register the needed agility for the cause of independence. The like of Obafemi Awolowo (Premier of Western Region at age 37), Ahmadu Bello (Premier of Northern Region, 36), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Prime Minister, 34), Festus Okotie-Eboh (Minister of Finance, 27), Anthony Enahoro (called for immediate self-government, 27) would remain a point of reference to the notion that indeed the young are not too young to rule. After all, our neighbours from Namibian would often say; “leadership does not depend on age.”
Interestingly, the ageism factor- dirt on the political linen- became the focal point protested against, noticeably after the 2015 general election as a group of young compatriots began a campaign against the ‘malady.’ Hon.Tony Nwulu, Dayo Israel among others started the #Not Too Young to Run campaign, then it gained ground as pressure was mounted on the Federal Government to see to the end- the passage of the bill to law. According to a Premium Times report dated May 31, 2018 , “the new law is aimed at relaxing some of the stringent and discriminatory provisions of the constitution.
“The bill was passed by the National Assembly last year to alter sections 65, 106,131,177 of the constitution. It was to reduce the age qualification for president from 40 to 20; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House Assembly membership from 30 to 25,” the report reads further.
However, the new law which also allows for independent candidature is soon fraught with the fear factor for some youths who will be considering the option. Though independent candidacy would erase any formidable financial barrier it might cause in the course of the young aspirants going through political parties which charge high prices for purchase of nomination forms, it does not have the capacity of erasing totally the fear of nepotism and favouritism.
From an eagle’s eye-view, the Nigerian political system seems always to throw the youths overboard with its dilapidating modus operandi which are quite deeply rooted in crookedness, corruption, nepotism and to mention a few. The issue of godfatherism, moneytism and nepotism in the Nigerian politics is not merely evidenced at the local level; it seems to preponderate over all levels. Just recently, President Muhammedu Buhari was reportedly to have influenced the siege laid on the Senate President and his Deputy to stop them from attending the week plenary because of the perceived mass defection of APC members in the Senate. This is not to say the duo is rid of moral compromises as there is still a presumption of the two being involved in corruption scandals.
Their moral corruptness is best highlighted by ‘The man’ in Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born: ‘These are the socialists of Africa, fat, perfumed, soft with the ancentral softness of chiefs who sold their people and are celestially happy with the fruits of trade’(pg 153-4). What we have as leaders are ‘neo-colonial leaders who are fattened by the fruits of betrayal of their own people.’
There is a need for a new dimensional pattern of politics that would throng strongly to fundamental ethics in human endeavours as there should be a proper re-orientation of what politics should be rather than what it is now. A unified Nigerian dream should oust every tendency of nepotism or tribalism as everyone would share the same dream and not, selfish individual aim of enriching oneself.
In conclusion, the providence of the independent candidature should look into ways of eliminating these fears as they would hinder the purpose to which the law was established-inclusive participation of the Nigerian youths in governance.