Wednesday, 25th May 2022
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Still on ‘not too young to run’

Sir: I have heard people who travel into the Valhalla of their dreams say that what Nigeria needs now are youthful leaders who can think outside the box to develop the country.

Sir: I have heard people who travel into the Valhalla of their dreams say that what Nigeria needs now are youthful leaders who can think outside the box to develop the country. Away with the old plutocrats they say because they believe only in their interests, in a few, but not the country. Is the rot in the political entity about people or system? Is what we need in politics solely about age or also about influence and experience?

I do not have issues with the Not too young to run Act but I worry about its execution. I have to be bothered about youths in Nigeria because youths do not have power, and the dotages with power even though were once youths, have no interests in youthful matters and in the country. How then is fundamental reform possible when the old guards are, unwilling to commit class suicide? Succession planning becomes an innovation only for those with something to hide especially when the idea is to install royal flunkies into offices. What then is the problem with Nigeria? After all America was once a Third World country before the New Deal. Is the United States now a Third World country? May be our knack for private profit in politics is our bane and not the age of people who run for elective office. Even when the youths are given more opportunities, they will steal as much as the old. What then will be new?
I love to ask questions, could it be because of our value system, in the fact that our universities are underfunded and as such youths cannot engage in Socratic debate as was the case when Nigerian universities were great institutions, yet many poorly educated youths want to engage in Shakespearean analyses without facts and are happy at the chance to run for office without preparation. It is time we began to tell ourselves the truth. Nigeria needs a patriotic national establishment and leaders should not celebrate certain issues for the sake of allegory so as to pull the wool over the eyes of citizens.

What we need is not the celebration of age for elective office but the funding of our universities to make it world class. The road show we see in the polity by politicians cannot be described as a demarche. Where are the state banks to help give credit to farmers, to give student loans?
Same youths following in the footsteps of the old politicians will promise us Heaven and Earth whilst seeking for votes but once they get in, they wouldn’t do anything. That is the Nigerian way; especially since ours is a democracy of oil. Do nothing and you will get all the funds you need to junket around.
The system wouldn’t allow them. Sure there might be a lot of flag waving and a lot of talk, then after a while, big shots will flex their muscles and corner the youths. It wouldn’t be long before they begin to get NGN 75,000,000 vehicles and their accounts would be funded by mysterious individuals. It wouldn’t be long before these youths will forget about any plans for social reconstruction. And like their old predecessors will begin to understand why it is easier to let things go in politics.
That is the bottom line of Nigeria’s politics, not age. It is about an unpatriotic national establishment. Not all men can be bought but the oldies have taught our youths that anyone even the youths can be bought.
The problem with Nigeria is the system, not the men. Why do you think people give bribe, do you think it is because they are morally ruined? No! It is because of the cultural element and environment in which they find themselves in.
Simon Abah wrote from Abuja.

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