#NotTooYoungToRun Are Nigerian youths ready for leadership?

The focus has been on the need to have young people in governance with little attention being paid to the readiness of this group to lead the Nigerian nation.

  • Published: , Refreshed:
Members of the National Youth Service Corps. play

Members of the National Youth Service Corps.

(Press)
24/7 Live - Subscribe to the Pulse Newsletter!

"Children (youths) are the leaders of tomorrow," they say. This popular saying has not applied to most African countries with Zimbabwe (where Robert Mugabe has ruled as president since 1987) and Nigeria which currently has President Muhammadu Buhari (73-years-old) as it's leader.

Nigeria's youngest democratically elected president is Goodluck Jonathan, who was 54-years-old as at his time of election in 2011.

Over the years, some Nigerian youths have been used by politicians as thugs who go after ballot boxes during elections. The resultant effect is a situation where the youths continue to wait for 'tomorrow' (which will never come) while the old occupy leadership positions until death.

According to Section 65 (1)(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), a Nigerian citizen who intends to run for the office of the president must be at least 40-years-old; Senate, 35; while the federal and state houses of assembly from 30.

In a bid to change the narrative, the lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency of Lagos state at the House of Representatives, Tony Nwulu sponsored a bill seeking the reduction in age for Nigerians seeking elective positions.

Tony Nwulu (Google) play

Sponsor of the Not Too Young to Run bill, Tony Nwulu (Google)

 

The bill is seeking to reduce the qualification into the office of President from ages 40 to 30 years, office of Governor from 35 to 30 years, the Senate and Governorship from 35 to 30 years, and the federal and state houses of assembly from 30 to 25 years.

Another pillar on which the bill stands is to mainstream independent candidacy into the country's electoral process. The bill has passed second reading and it is currently at the Committee Stage. For the bill to become a law, it would need to pass through third reading, moved to the Senate for concurrence and president for assent.

Proponents of the bill are of the view that the youths (over 70 million people in Nigeria) if allowed to lead would stair the affairs of the country better than previous leaders (older politicians). The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), have championed the campaign for the passage of the bill.

Samson Itodo, the Head, Research Policy and Advocacy, YIAGA, told Pulse.ng that passage of the bill would increase youth participation in governance thereby reducing their vulnerability to social vices and even terrorism.

"Boko Haram and ISIS will continue to radicalize young people if you don't give them space because political exclusion and radicalization are actually synonymous and there is a nexus between the two. Studies have also established that the level of political instability and violence across the world is as a result of political exclusion.

"When young people feel excluded, their commitment to the society is reduced. It is therefore important that the National Assembly writes its name in gold by reviewing our law," he said.

The Executive Director, Centre for Global Solutions and Sustainable Development (CENGSSUD) Adebowale Adeniyi, however based his argument on the giant strides of Nigerian youths mainly in entertainment.

said: The list is endless as today’s realities have shown that youths are ever ready and fit to become leaders in political space. The youths of today have transformed the entertainment industry and made Nigeria to be rated globally, names like WizKid, Davido, Olamide, Yemi Alade, Kris Daniel, Dbanj, Psquare, Tuface, Iyanya etc have made us proud globally, and apart from the entertainment, youths have taken giant strides in the business sector, technology, agriculture, sports, education etc.

He went on to say that: "If the best political position the president of Nigeria could afford to give us is the Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad who is 24 years old, despite the full and mass support he enjoyed from us during the campaign both online and offline, then we need to have a rethink, mobilise ourselves en-mass to have a mutual interest and fight what belong to us."

Opponents of this bill are of the view that the youths are too young and inexperienced. Hence the opinion that they cannot rule the country.

ALSO READ: Buhari: ‘President’s ministers are corrupt too,’ Uche Secondus says

"That bill should be discouraged. What does a boy of 25 years know about governance? When you see these youths on the streets, some cannot even wear their trousers properly; they call it sagging. Most of them are ignorant of our culture; some cannot even greet properly. Are they the ones that we will hand over power to as Presidents, lawmakers and governors?

"We have to critically look at these things so we don't cause problems for the generation yet unborn. My advice is that they should take time to learn how these things work," a federal lawmaker who craved anonymity told correspondent.

Man play

Sagging

(signature9)

 

Well, politics in Nigeria is guided by its own rules. However, God-fatherism remains a major problem. There instances where political parties/governors "anoint" (select) their candidate/replacement and force such individuals on the electorates through direct or indirect means.

The situation where a single individual governs a state for eight years, gets a ministerial appointment for eight years and returns to the upper or lower chambers where he can decide to stay for life (if he is able to convince/confuse the electorates) still exist.

Cross-carpeting (moving from one political party to the other) is another major characteristics of the Nigerian political system. There are endless examples of aggrieved politicians who have moved to other parties or formed theirs in a bid to remain in power.

ALSO READ: Buhari: APC confirms existence of cabal in President’s government

These and many more awaits the (relatively) innocent Nigerian youth who would like to run for an elective position should this bill be passed into law. The big question is, how many young people can play the game of Nigerian politics?

Are the youths willing to support their own? During the 2015 general election, Professor Remi Sonaiya contested for the presidential seat under KOWA Party. If Nigerian women had voted for her, perhaps we would have had Nigeria's first female president.

It requires huge fund to run political campaigns. With the high unemployment rate in Nigeria where university graduates roam the streets without jobs, how many youths can fund campaigns? How many Nigerians are willing to give donations for such ventures given the economic hardship in the country?

As Nigerians look forward to having younger people in governance, these and many more could be stumbling blocks to the this quest.

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.