There is a truth young Nigerians need to know, and it is that if many of us have the privilege of stepping into public office today, we will act the exact same way as many of those whom we criticize, even despise
– Chude Jideonwo, Are We The Turning Point Generation?
I admit that it is appalling that in a country that has more than half of her over 180 million populace under the age of 30, it is common place to see the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly full of mace-throwing, pot-bellied men that will do better on a retirement. It is even more appalling that this congregation of mostly old men, place premium on bills that will guarantee them life pension and increased salaries rather than what will make the life of the average Nigerian less of a hell. It is almost needless to say that this situation actively prevents competent young men and women from being elected into public offices.
In this context, Senator AbdulAzeez Nyako and Honourable Tony Nwulu sponsored the The Not too Young to Run Bill which seeks to reduce the age requirements for different public offices and also allow independent candidacy during the Nigeria’s electoral process. The Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), with several campaigns and public debates, has also called on Nigerians to support the passage of the bill by the National Assembly. However, very recently and quite unfortunately, 46 members of the Constitution Review Committee voted against it and this has been followed by protests by several youth leaders and youth organizations.
While it will be a very huge delight and a significant progress for our democracy to see this bill become law, as it will prevent the kind of leadership recycle that occurs in Nigerian public offices today, it is also true that many aspiring youth leaders are not different from the leadership that they criticize. If one critically takes a look at the jaw-widening level of corruption and lack of sympathy for the electorate in many Student Union Governments of Nigerian higher institutions, one can be forced to ask – Is Youthfulness the leadership need of Nigeria? In my own opinion, competence and integrity is.
This post is not an attempt to undermine the efforts of young competent Nigerians, some of who I know personally, who are ready and willing to bring Nigeria out of the shadows of underdevelopment and corruption, it is only unfortunate that the corrupt younger generation will also jump onto the not too young to run train when their only reason for political ambition is to cart away billions of dollars and store them somewhere more secure than septic tanks where anti-graft agencies will never find them. In plain terms what I am saying is youthfulness does not absolve you of being fraudulent.
So, dear youth, if you are not ready to serve, please do us all a favour by staying away from the ballot boxes. The corruption mongers at the helm of affairs today were all youngsters when they got into office. If you really have nothing new to offer, please be content to stay on the sidelines. Thank you!
A Concerned Nigerian Citizen