FEATURE ARTICLE

Prof Adekunle AkinyemiTuesday, March 13, 2018
[email protected]
Pikesville, Maryland, USA

NIGERIAN YOUTHS AND THEIR GOLDEN ASPIRATION TO LEADERSHIP


his article opens up with a rejoinder to Yahaya Balogun's Features Article titled - "……The Audacity of Envisioned Nigerian Youths to Rewrite History" on Nigeriaworld.

That article on Youths' aspiration to leadership is very interesting……….. Mo<

"I agree with most of your concerns and your list of the outstanding, indefatigable and articulate youths is fair enough. Your list includes Omoyele Sowore, Fela Durotoye, Fabiyi Malcolm, Leke Otunuga, Chris Emejuru, Ahmed Buhari, and Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji. If I may add to your list, the following youths also fall in the long list of our capable/aspiring Presidential candidates - Babajide Ogunsanwo, Aisha Yusuf, Osai Ojigbo, Yul Edochie, Adamu Garba II, Omike Chikeluba Lewis, Tope Fasua, Chris Nwokobia, Onyeka Nwelue, Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi and many others yet to be discovered, as the list goes on and on….."

The issue is becoming interesting. How I wish there could be a forum to showcase as many of these youths as we can get in an open debate, not only to be able to see how articulate or how well composed they are on stage, BUT to test how familiar they are with the true Nigerian terrain and their understanding of how terrible things have gone in almost all facets of life! This will enable them to know how much work there is to be done, to get any reasonable results in Nigeria, corruption aside! It is going to be a litmus test for them. It is a golden opportunity for them which should not be denied by the Nigerian older generation.

There is no doubt that the older generation has failed our youths when we compare the present old generation with that of the youths of the 40s 50s and 60s who fought and won independence for Nigeria. These also fought and ended a civil war without allowing our nation to disintegrate. Kudos to those youths of that time (now Elder Statesmen) and shame on anyone who thinks that our youths of today cannot lead Nigeria, even better than that. Nigeria has had civilian and military leaders as youths ever before the new breed of youthful world leaders like Justine Trudeau (44), Prime Minister of Canada and Emmanuel Macron (39), President of France. Nigeria's early Premiers, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Heads of State were all youthful and vibrant. They were all in their twenties, thirties and early forties. Whoever nurses the thought that our youths cannot lead Nigeria in this digital era, should reflect on Nigeria's past.

I do not classify as a youth BUT I am one of the few Nigerians who is genuinely interested in having our vibrant youths take over. The older generation should allow them to make their own mistakes, as may be expected. Remember we all learn from cradle to grave. Besides, mistakes have also been made by the older generations and the accumulation of these has got us to where we are as a nation today. Our nation is indeed in a bad shape and we need the digital touch in an era of globalization. It is certainly difficult to teach an old dog a new trick and if we need good results we have to jettison the obsolete analogue approach.

I am sure that individuals like Pat Utomi, Oby Ezekwesili, my humble self and other well-meaning Nigerians in the same group (frame of mind) will be interested in encouraging Nigerian youths to take over and set the pace for the rest of Africa. Many of these promising young men and women are capable, able and willing to effect real and sustainable change in Nigeria. We should believe in these youths and give them the needed support. We should be able to organize a forum to put them on stage, like the US Presidential Debate style, to tell Nigerians:

Who they are ..... ?
What they stand for.....?
What they know about Nigeria and Nigerians.....?
How they hope to cope with unparalleled level of indiscipline in the society…?
Their vision for Nigeria, among other African Nations and the world at large....?

Such 'Face the nation' exercise can be done in collaboration with the Channels Television or other private or public television outfit. It will be delightful to give Nigerians the opportunity to get to meet the potential Nigerian leaders whose expertise and other talents are waiting to be tapped.

It is my hope that through this forum, we can start the necessary support and exposures. Whichever of them is willing to put his/her leadership acumen to test must be encouraged. Only one of them can become President. Other potential leaders and goal-getters must be challenged to hold responsible ministerial positions in our bid to transform Nigeria.

The mundane and multi-facetted problems of Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized in view of their complexity. The leadership is rotten, the followership is atrocious and ugly as our culture has been distorted and the society is in a mess. I have heard people say that only a revolution can correct the ongoing ills of the Nigerian society. Those who do not agree with this extreme position will need to proffer a better solution to the Nigerian problems.

Youths should bear in mind the problems of - ethnicity and tribalism, nepotism, over-stretched security apparati (Soldiers and Police), unethical mentoring, God-fatherism, People with Vested Interests, the endemic poverty at the grassroots level and the stomach-infrastructure, the inbuilt problem of the Executive/Legislative/Judicial corruption, Corruption in the Public and Public workplaces, market women and their arbitrary price inflations, the Okada riders, the Marwa Drivers, the Micra Drivers etc, etc, etc. What about the problems of unemployment, kidnappings, ritualists, Boko Haram, Herdsmen/farmers, armed robberies, and Yahoo Yahoo? The list is certainly inexhaustible. Be ready to establish institutions to contain these myriads of problems.

It is my humble belief that our youths will have their plates full even before they surmount the electoral ordeals and win. By now we hope and expect that the usual youthful exuberance peculiar to youths of all ages would have been shed off and they have now put on the toga of maturity, seriousness and focus. It should be remembered, that the institutions for probity and transparency in governance are not there in Nigeria and if they are, they have not been strictly enforced. For example, the hue and cry over the celebrated issue of PADDING of the budget has subsided. Does this mean that padding has become an inseparable part of our budgeting system in Nigeria? The recurrent issue of excessive legislative salaries and allowances which h make politics so lucrative and juicy will continue to haunt Nigerian politicians if the status quo remains. Can the youths agree to slash their salaries in view of the economic realities and state of the nation? Are the youths going to shed the excesses of the Politicians like Peter Obi did in Anambra State - reduced use of sirens, cut down in entourages, refusal to build bogus Villas for States, Governors and Presidents? Will our youths be able to end the culture of wastes and ostentatious living in Nigeria? It is going to be a lot of work and sacrifices on the part of youths. You will all need to brace up.

My honest advice is for our youths to coalesce and strategize to reach a consensus and bring out the BEST candidate out of all the capable aspirants. If the struggle for leadership is allowed to becloud the appropriate selection of Best Candidate, the whole clamor for leadership by the youths will be defeated. I pray that you (youths), will win the general and State elections so that you have the opportunity to transform Nigeria. After winning, your selection of Ministers, Commissioners and other public office holders must be based on absolute merits. The struggle must be to fix square pegs in square holes (merits) in your appointments rather than on party affiliations and other considerations which promote mediocrity in governance. A winning government will select people of quality, with excellent track records to fill positions. A star-studded team is a winning team any day!

Another important advice is for all youths to develop the new culture of 'Politics for Service' as opposed to the agelong misconception of seeing Politics as an easy avenue to make money - 'Get-rich-quick', 'Business-As-Usual'. This may in fact, be the very first important issue to be unveiled by the new breed of youthful politicians, as evidence of their readiness to serve the people of this nation. I have a very strong feeling that the battle for Aso Rock and the various Government Houses is perhaps going to between the Youths and the Old. Our youths MUST SYNERGISE to win the battle to unseat the older generation. The battle is not going to be easy but it is not impossible. You may also need to get candidates cleared after some background checks for prospective candidates and political office holders for mental balance, good health, greed and kleptomaniac tendencies. All hands must be on the deck. It is well.

Governance is not showbiz and the next phase of governance is going to be tough. It is not going to allow the shenanigan of the past. Let us remain optimistic that our youths will be up to the task by the special grace of God. The 'business as usual' posture of the past, will be jettisoned forever and ever in Nigeria. Nigeria must be made the cynosure of all eyes. Nigeria is destined to be great and it is not over until it is over. Long live Nigeria.

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