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Youths and leadership


Nigerian Youths

The government has eventually yielded to the pressure by the youths to be eligible to mount the saddle at all levels of government but at the highest national level in particular. There is now what is called Not-Too-Young Act which reduces eligibility for election into the Legislature, at state and federal levels, from 30 to 25 years and to be President of the Republic from 40 to 35 years. The youth campaign had been there for a while, often driven by sweet memories of the first generation of Nigerian leaders.

Their longing, I believe, must have been reinvigorated with the prodding last year by Nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka who expressed surprise at their languid approach to the issue of political leadership. His last charge is that they should vote out the old leaders come the deliverance year 2019. The sensational emergence of Emmanuel Macron as President of France at 40, no doubt, added new impetus to the struggle. He beat David Cameron who, before him, had mounted the throne as British Prime at 43. Indeed, wait a minute, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, is on maternity leave. At 37 and still within the child-bearing age, she was delivered of a bouncing baby girl only last Thursday, making the second world leader to give birth in office. There is Sebastan Kurz, the Chancellor of Austria who is 31; he will be 32 on 27 August.

When we cast our minds back to our own history, we see that Matthew Mbu was only 23 years when he became Minister of Labour and Productivity and later the first ever Nigerian Ambassador (now called High Commissioner) to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom. Lt.-Col. (later General) Yakubu Gowon became Head of State at 31. Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote his famous book, Path to Nigerian Freedom in 1947 at the age of 38, founded Action Group at 41 and became leader of Government Business at 42. He and Sir Ahmadu Bello became Premier of their respective Regions at age 45. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe had by 1947, at the age of 43, become a Member of Legislative Council in Lagos; Member, Western House of Assembly at 48 and Premier of Eastern Region at 50. He had been editor of a national newspaper in Ghana at 30. At the age of 31, Sir Tafawa Balewa had founded Bauchi Discussion Group and at 36 had become a Member of the Northern House of Assembly. At 40 he became Minister of Works and Prime Minister at 45. Anthony Enahoro began his activism as a student at Kings College, Lagos, leading anti-colonial protests in the 1940s. He became editor of Southern Nigeria Defender at 21 and at 28 became a member, Western House of Assembly. He moved the historic motion calling for Nigeria Independence at 30. Wole Soyinka himself founded the theatre group “The 1960 Masks” in 1960 at 26 and at 30 “Orisun Theatre Company.” His is an open book. He has moved on and on until he became a citizen of the universe, courted and in demand at every corner of the globe.


In other words, the world has been moving away from the old. It is such that Mr. Methuselah cannot boast of many followers in government leadership these times. Therefore, the Nigerian youth’s clamour which has now received assent cannot be unwarranted. The waves were already sweeping through the land. But then, it will be necessary to ask: Who is a youth? The Chambers 21st Century Dictionary defines youth as “the early part of life, often specifically between childhood and adulthood.” A deeper contemplation of who a youth is would seem called for because we know that among some adolescents have been found adults. And understanding of who man is would be helpful. With the higher knowledge spreading now on earth, it has been established that man is not just flesh and blood as is generally believed. He is also not just soul, but spirit. It is the spirit in its encasement which are finer raiments that is the soul. Soul, therefore, is spirit bearing finer coverings without the physical body.

When a man steps out of his body which we call death he does so as a soul. The finer cloaks themselves are discarded as there is movement away from the planes in the Beyond between the physical world and the Spiritual realm more widely referred to as Paradise. The purpose of our sojourn in the material world is spiritual, to mature spiritually which is the certificate that every human being must brandish to make him admissible through the gates of Paradise. Where one has not attained the right degree, there are opportunities for reincarnation to make amends and make progress such that our linen is washed clean as the Spiritual Realm does not permit of dross or impurities whatsoever. Our world is thus a school composed of many classes. Opportunities are offered to repeat classes or courses. A student does not move to the next class until he has cleared his papers. Of course, repeat is not endless. One who continually fails is advised to withdraw because he cannot benefit from higher education. In the same way, repeated earth lives otherwise known as reincarnation or re-embodiments are not limitless. In our culture, following ancient recognition of this truth of life, children are named Nnene, Nnena, Yetunde, Babatunde, Iyabo, Babawande and so on. In the college system, one with a masters can teach an undergraduate in the same university. Professorship is at the summit of the ladder.

One who has attained to a certain level in spiritual development may request to help and guide. If the request is granted he reincarnates and he shows leadership early in life. Maturity is a consequence of experiencing which in turn brings knowledge. Such born to help can be regarded as a born leader. There are leaders who are made who come to the saddle through elective or appointive system, or even manipulative. No knowledge which is of real value is lost or wasted when death occurs. And so we have instances of prodigies born here and there, in the arts, science, business, administration and politics. Take Soyinka or Achebe who published his classic, Things fall Apart in 1958 for example. I once asked on this page: Who taught Adeola Odutola business? Who taught Michael Ibru, Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Ugochukwu, Ojukwu Snr., Wahab Folawiyo, Michael Ade-Ojo, Dantata, Oba Otudeko, Michael Adenuga and now the phenomenon called Aliko Dangote to mention only a few, business principles?


They have been so immensely successful. We have the young financial tigers as well, Jim Ovia, Fola Adeola, Tony Elumelu and Atedo Peterside. They have been so immensely successful. They came with the abilities and the fact of the institutions, business schools or whatever they attended was for brushing up, erudition, for unfolding and to link up!!. What of men of profound thoughts and deep insights of ages past? Daniel Swarovski says in his book, The Time is Ripe: What some regard as a special gift is, in my opinion, the fruit of long experience gathered in many lives.” Many will remember Mozart who began to compose his music before he was 12 years old or Johanna Bummel who gave public concert at the age of 11. I dare ask: should Soyinka go away and return, would anyone be surprised if he begins to write and stage plays from the age of six? With reincarnation everyone builds on his talents as part of his total abilities.

In the development of every human being, we are told, one manifests four basic temperaments, the sanguine, which is the period of childhood, then the period of idealism when the youths dream dreams, the age he wants to hit the Mars, and the high heavens. It is also the age of restiveness which in our clime manifests in student protests. It is the age the youth sees the world upside down and wants to straighten it. At home the father is challenged, and the girls take on their mothers. This is when the spirit is bursting out to take hold of its environment. This period is followed by the age of action, the period of full estate, of achievement, driven by what is called the choleric temperament. The last stage is the period of reflection when an old man begins to take stock of his life, when he is seized by phlegmatic temperament. If he is thoughtful he tries to make amend. He has gathered experiences and with wisdom benefit of experiences that translate into knowledge, calms the restive and rebellious youth.

What I am getting at, therefore, is that it is not every youth that is a young man. The so-called young man is an old man in a young body. His new age entitles him to all that every youth has at his command such as drive, fresh ideas, innovativeness, dynamism and daringness to mention only a few through the instrumentality of his temperament. If he is a born leader, he manifests these traits very early and he is called to service in an environment such is allowed to flourish. He understands the purpose of life; he is filled with love and compassion and exemplary in selfless service. If he still needs to grow to have a good grasp of the environment, to gather experiences, the wisdom of the older ones will be inalienable. This is why the collaborative working of the youths and the older generation is unavoidable in our land. The young has his place, the old has his role!

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