NIGERIA Youths And Their Quest For Political Leadership
By Chiedu Uche Okoye
ALL human beings will undergo the youthful phase in their lives. Today’s old people, who are gnarled by old age, were once young and energetic people. As time could be likened to an unstoppable fast-travelling train, today’s youths will become old people in the future with tempus fugit. Nobody is immune to the ravages of time; and nobody can stop the ageing process. So, it behooves young people to utilize their youthfulness to realize their potential and contribute significantly and meaningfully to national development.
Youth or youthfulness, which could be compared to a flower that blooms and blossoms in its time, and then withers away, is a period of ingenuity and creativity. It’s a known fact that gifted young people do reach the zenith of their endeavors and careers during their youthful ages. Chinua Achebe, one of the founding fathers of the modern African literature, wrote his Magnus Opus, Things Fall Apart, when he was in his twenties. And, another contemporary of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, wrote excellent literary works that cover all the genres of literature during his youthful day(s). Little wonder, he won the Nobel Prize for literature
More so, Mathew Mbu, a politician in the first republic, became a parliamentarian at the young age of twenty six. In sports, we have Boris Becker, the German-born lawn tennis player, who attained his peak in his sporting career and won the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship as a teenager. And there was Yousafzai Malala, the Pakistani teenage crusader for children’s right, who came to global attention and recognition while in her early teenage years. She relocated to Britain after she was shot by Moslem extremists in her home country for her activism and advocacy. Malala was given the Nobel peace prize when she was seventeen years old.
Although many gifted young people can excel in their chosen careers and endeavors without receiving much assistance from other people, they still need guidance and tutelage. A highly talented youthful person could be compared to a yam tendril that should be provided with a stake on which it would twine. Young people need guidance in order that they should grow to have admirable personalities. Aren’t we aware that only youths with probity and good education can contribute meaningfully to the task of nation building?
But sadly, and regrettably, in Nigeria, today’s youths do not evince and display the qualities and character traits of people, who can transform Nigeria, holistically and positively. Our young people, who are socialized and initiated into our egregious culture of corruption, are rapists, cultists, religious fanatics, and ethnic bigots. Since their parents bought SSCE certificates and University admissions for them to study courses like Law, Medicine, Accountancy, and Engineering, they could not cope with the rigors of University Education , being mentally unprepared for the mentally –taxing university education. Consequently, they’re compelled to join cult groups on campuses across the country.
Instead of being obsessed with scholarly activities, they use their membership of cult groups to brow-beat their lecturers to award them undeserved high grades in their courses. Others have converted many campuses in the country to religious grounds, where they espouse deleterious and divisive religious dogmas and teachings. And the ladies who are always dressed in décolletage and provocative dresses prefer participating in beauty pageantry to engaging in intellectually -enriching engagements and other ennobling activities. Can those frivolous youths become good political leaders in future?
What happens in our universities now is a great departure and opposite of what obtained in them in the past. In the Past, university students would help to shape, re-formulate, and change unfavorable government policies through their interventions like protest marches and newspaper articles. That’s why I wistfully remember with fondness Ogaga Ifowodo and other students’ leaders who stood up to injustice and bad leadership in the past. But, gone are the days when students, who are the leaders of tomorrow, protested against bad and unfavorable government policies. Now, they acquiesce in government policies that will bring suffering and economic hardship to the masses. And they do visit our political leaders to show solidarity with them when those leaders are not offering us good political leadership and qualitative representation in the national assembly. Aren’t the students, who are leaders of tomorrow, sycophants?
Commendably, President Buhari has signed into law the not- too- young-to-run bill. But, can a young person, who is a philosopher- king in the mould of Emmanuel Macron of France, emerge on our political landscape as our national leader? Given the dysfunctional state of our universities, they’ve not been churning out hot-headed young people with probity and political cum economic ideologies, who can offer workable alternatives to our egregious systems of doing things. And, a majority of Nigerian youths, who are destitute of positive morality, probity, and intellectual fecundity, believe that it is the turn of the current crop of leaders in the country to do good for themselves through their perpetration of corrupt deeds. So, can our morally depraved and intellectually vacuous youths band together to oust the recycled old politicians from the loft of political power and change the existing political order when the youths are not intellectually and morally equipped for that undertaking ?
Even if our youths are morally and intellectually equipped, can they dislodge the current political office holders from their positions given the dynamics of our politics? But, to oust them from power and change the existing political order will be a herculean and arduous task for them. Because our politics is money – based, and not issue- based, many a young person with moral scruples, good education, and leadership qualities cannot win elective posts in Nigeria. They are without huge financial war chest with which to prosecute their electoral and political battles. So, today, young politicians, who are in the pay of political king makers and god fathers do mortgage their restrictive mechanisms (consciences) to their political god fathers, and do their biddings, which are inimical to the growth of the country. Those youths curry favors with the corrupt politicians in order to actualize their base and selfish ends.
In order that our country should grow, and that a young person should become our national leader in the future, we should do away with the current class of politicians, and make a paradigm shift regarding our way of politicking. In this regard, issue- based politics should replace mercantile politics that is existing in the country now. And the electorate should be orientated to know that the sovereignty of the country belongs to them as they can vote out a bad leader, and vote in a good one with their votes.
More so, as education is the bedrock of national development, revamping our comatose educational system is a sin qua non in our quest to get a young national leader with probity, leadership qualities, and ideologies, who can re-make our country and take it to great economic and technological heights. Having functional school system will lead to the production of well-educated and morally upright people who are conscious of their fundamental human rights, and who can take on the corrupt old guards in the battle for the soul and redemption of Nigeria.
And effecting moral regeneration among our young people by parents, teachers, clerics, and Imams will imbue our impressionable youths with positive morality and probity, which can activate their restrictive mechanism to always do they right and honourable things when they occupy leadership positions.
…Okoye wrot from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State. Okoye is a published poet