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Youth and elective office in Nigeria

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Youths

Sir. How old did they say Emmanuel Jean-Michel Fdric Macron was when he won the presidential elections in France, 39? Fine! A youth right? Fine! That is good to know. However, some people older than him in Nigeria still consider themselves as youth. They talk in a gauche manner and expect to be addressed as youth. Most of Nigeria’s youth don’t know the difference between ‘knowledge and wisdom,’ ‘allegation and scandal,’ ‘freedom of speech and freedom of expression.’ Hence, they use invectives on people and expletives run through their mouth like a waterfall, which they regard as freedom of speech.

Visit a university campus and see what Nigerian youth do and compare them to Macron. Though I agree that platforms are needed to vitrine the skills and competence of youth. Barack Obama’s presidency did not happen on wishes, he took the chance to make a statement when he delivered the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention nominating John Kerry as party flag-bearer for president of the United States of America. People groom themselves for the big occasions. Someone once told me, stop writing. “Nigerians don’t read.” He didn’t ask me if I get the heck out of seeing my name in print or even why I write. Youth’s apathy to nation building is not synonymous to Nigeria alone. Only 19 per cent of youth voted in the last presidential elections in the US. Over there, they aren’t bothered about state elections like they do in national elections. They might if they make voting compulsory as in Australia where defaulters are fined 20 dollars.

Certainly, it could not have been for want of young people with ideas in politics. We have had a generous combination of young people in governance all over Nigeria, but startlingly, they haven’t raised their head or shoulders above the older generation ideologically and otherwise, as you would have expected. In contrast, at a very young age many of our present day leaders and statesmen became captains of industries, enlisted in the military some established businesses and believed in the country even though many of them came from poor background. Not these youth we see today. All we hear them say is, “I want to hammer”(euphemism for making money) “drive good cars” “go to Asia” (that’s the hub now as U.S. visa is hard to come by) “post celebratory pictures on social media.” They choose to ignore the route to success: Self-education, which is sometimes more important than what western education teaches.

As a rule, old people, statesmen should be in quiet retirement and back positive causes just like other statesmen around the world do. However, the few openings given to the younger generation – to manage affairs of state has been misspent so critically (I wish I could name names of people who sat on Peacock Thrones in their forties) that these elder statesmen have on a regular basis come out of retirement to engage in preachments to broker peace-pact between parties and to promote stability and unity. Our youngsters in politics have proved to be whippersnappers. I have met some young people who don’t know history. How can they? What with group philosophy.

Granted, Emmanuel Jean-Michel Fdric Macron worked hard to be President of France at 39. But he was also an establishment player and understood the importance of conciliation while holding on to principles. Nigeria’s youth in their majority doesn’t understand establishment politics even as many desire to hold political offices. Yet, he/she enjoys playing hard but doesn’t work hard. How can the youth ever be president under this scenario?

Simon Abah


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