Can Casanova Youths Rule Nigeria?
By Taju Tijani
The Nigerian creatures are now hoisting flags of political convenience all across the nation. Good governance narratives are openly being preached from both the old and young political puritans who are irritated by the moral compromise of President Mohammadu Buhari’s eroding sainthood. Yes, Buhari’s moral ambiguity and nepotism are daily tearing at the heart of majority of conscientious Nigerians who thought that the PROFRON (President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) is the illumination for our dark political tunnel. That thought form is morphing widely into an error. Why? Buhari’s apathetic and steroid-deficient style of governance is drawing evocative disapproval across the divide, and more so among his own clan – the All Progressive Congress.
As a result of this mass disaffection, the emerging chasm has created a platform for the chattering classes to look for alternative actors to rescue Nigeria from geriatric rulers who are constantly the curse of the African political class. The idea is that hope is not lost and that Nigeria can still get back on her feet if we could fish for leaders from the rank of our energetic, talented and visionary youths. The subtext of the above narrative is that we should force a generational displacement on the likes of Buhari, Tinubu, Atiku, Okorocha and other sixty and above who may want to contest for the presidency of the republic.
The question is, who are the consensus leaders who will fill the void when older Nigerians are evicted from political participation? Yes, I am all for both the liberation and liberty of the political space for new blood who could fix the decay of our society. Yes, we can exploit the newfound consciousness of the global space for good governance to overcome our leadership anxiety but my worry remains. And that worry should worry every optimist who want Nigeria to emerge from the ashes of its many wounds.
Buhari’s age has remained a target of mass hysteria and gunshots. His age is no longer regarded as an asset but a handicap in a nation teeming with youths of all suasions. Old age is no longer synonymous with wisdom and knowledge in the amphitheater of Nigeria’s meta-politics but a curse. Why? There is this historical propaganda in the social media space that is awakening our forgotten memory to time past when young men ruled Nigeria. A time far removed from IPad, Samsung, Blackberry, Infinix, curve television, Uber cab and WhatsApp world.
Then we had young personalities like General Yakubu Gowon, Obafemi Awolowo, Emeka Ojukwu, Olusegun Obasanjo, Murtala Mohammed and several other young and brilliant military officers who served as governors of states in Nigeria at a relatively young age. We have to remember that during those evergreen years, Nigerian internal mismanagement has not begun. Those youthful leaders had neither social distraction from the social media nor hash tag conscription to show how rebellious they were. In Gowon’s time, Nigeria was in embryo but today hell is let loose and the center can no longer hold.
In 2016, the Vice President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was upbeat with so much optimism when he announced that Nigeria as a nation was shaped and built by youths who were determined to build a formidable and united country. As a stentorian teacher, he once also advised youths to take their destinies in their hands by taking up leadership roles. Osinbajo’s assumption here is spot on. His evocative cry was that that closed space against the youths by older leaders of today must be opened. One important closed space against the youth is our very own constitution. 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.
As a social thinking architect, I worry about the moral and intellectual deficiencies ravaging the mind of our youths. In 2016, I had the privilege of teaching some of the so called youths in the confine of an editorial environment. The starry-eyed students projected a philosophy of hedonism and the good life without the absence of sweat that really frightened me. These youths who were mostly journalism and mass communication students from expensive and private Nigerian universities displayed questionable integrity, zero rigour for scholarship, reliance on daddy’s connection, rascality, rudeness, rebelliousness and the desire to amass wealth through the fastest route.
So when a joker like Tony Nwulu, the lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo Federal constituency of Lagos State House of Rep sponsored a bill 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, I want to give him a dirty slap.
If you want to know the failure of our youths, look into the shallow chamber of our National Assembly and see the ‘gbogbo itu ti won npa’. That is, check out the aberrations of their rank. Dino Melaye and Adeleke the two ignominious dancing clowns are pillars of shameful behaviour to the rank of youthful leadership in any nation. Most of the Nigerian youths are badly brought up and fed on the diet of corruption, greed, selfishness, brutality, cultism, gang membership, irresponsibility, lack of patriotism and fear.
Majority of Nigerian youths are drug junkies. They etch tattoos on their bodies. They relish in sexual deviancy. They worship their phones, spend too long hours on Nollywood trash, waste time on social media bust ups and ramp rubbish on Instagram and WhatsApp.
Majority of our youths are badly deformed by material aspirations and good life value in the make-believe videos of Davido, 9ice, Wizkid, Teckno, Patoranking, Sarkodie, Olamide, Wande Coal and Ade Gold so much that if this nation should swing the political leadership pendulum to them, then we are doomed to a more savage banalisation of the political space never seen in this nation. Nigeria needs peace, progress, prosperity and a new faith in any new breed of future leaders regardless of age, class and religion. But to believe like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the deformed Nigerian youths and other members of Not Too Young To Run brigade could heal this barren nation, is to trivialise the mystery of good leadership. So do you want Casanova youths to rule Nigeria? Tofiapa!!!