Young Nigerians are capable of electing one of their own as president in 2019 if they start taking themselves seriously.
A message that says it’s time for the older generation to give way to the young in the running of the country’s affairs. A message that says electing young people to run our nation shouldn’t be dismissed as a far-fetched idea.
That poster should serve as the beginning of a conversation we must now have. It should be seen as a call to action. A wake up call. Electing a young Nigerian president in 2019 should no longer be dismissed as quixotic because it isn't.
President Muhammadu Buhari will be 77 years of age by the time of the next general elections in 2019. Atiku Abubakar who has already set out his campaign stall for the presidential contest in 2019, will be 73 years of age by the next voting date.
At the time of writing, Buhari and Atiku are being positioned as the candidates of choice by the two major political parties in the land, ahead of another decision year for the country.
The political class of Nigeria's independence is sadly still running the country and handpicking its own to man government positions across the States.
This, at a time when 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz has just been sworn-in as Austrian Chancellor, when France is being led by a 38-year-old Emmanuel Macron and when 45-year-old Justin Trudeau continues to dazzle the world with his vibrancy and millennial disposition as Prime Minister of Canada.
In May, I had written that young Nigerians should sit down and be humble if they want to assume positions of leadership in Nigeria, because there’s sufficient evidence that they aren’t ready for the nation’s top job or for leadership across the States.
That reprimand of young people as enunciated in that piece, is still valid.
Young Nigerians have to do better, show stellar example and organise themselves into a formidable voting bloc if they want to seize the reins of power from the old brigade. And that time is now.
To borrow from rapper MI, it’s time for the young in Nigeria to fix up their lives.
Nigeria has fared worse under the leadership of geriatrics. Buhari’s cabinet is laden with men and women who are well past their sell-by dates in terms of progressive ideas and zeal on the job. It is little wonder that the cabinet in its entirety has come up short since it was inaugurated.
This piece doesn’t seek to equate youth with performance on the job or pragmatism. Far from it. Not everyone—young or old—is cut out for leadership. But if we are serious about fixing our country, we’ve got to hand the wheels of state to the young men and women whose peers are calling the shots around the globe. The young men and women who are honing their skills in 'Yabacon' and elsewhere across the nation's digital space, are good enough to run Nigeria.
We can’t depend on Atiku’s or Buhari’s septuagenarian ideas to take us to that nation we’ll all be proud of because you can’t give what you do not have; no matter how hard you try.
This is therefore not a time for young people to just make the noise on sleek gadgets, take a back seat role and expect that power will be dropped on their laps a la carte. Nowhere is that done. If you are young and reading this, it’s time to join a political party and show more than a passing interest in how this country is run.
Young Nigerians under the age of 35 make up more than 50 percent of the nation's population. It’s time to turn that numerical advantage into a critical mass capable of electing LG Chairmen, Governors, lawmakers and a President under a common platform. It can be done. But to get there, the youth have got to roll up the sleeves and put the work in.
It’s time for young people to emerge from the shadows of the regressive PDP and APC, realise that political contests are won on the ground and not on social media, join political parties favourably disposed to giving the young a chance and engage the electorate with boots on the ground.
It’s time for Nigeria to produce that young president it has always dreamt of and 2019 is an achievable target.
Yes, we can.