The audacity of youth should not be mistaken for brilliance in governance.
Today, July 26, 2017, the Nigerian Senate passed the Not Too Young To Run bill.
Once the bill is endorsed by 24 Houses of Assembly in the country, Nigerians from the age of 35 would be eligible to run for president. At the age of 30, anyone can run for the office of governor.
Also, the bill provides for persons at 25-years to contest for the House of Representative or state assemblies across the country. This is a victory for the young Nigerians who have been clamouring that Nigerian politicians are too old and slow to bring about change and development in the country.
For years young people have agitating to have a say in the affairs of a nation. The present age of our President and his seeming ineffectiveness has made that agitation louder than before. Now that the political arena has been opened up for younger individuals, we should expect to see more Nigerian youths involved politics.
Everything is not all sunshine and rainbow. The belief that young people have the solutions to fix this country is wrong. Young people do not have all the answers. There is an audacity that comes with youth. Belief is at an all time high but audacity and belief are not what it takes to be a good politician or leader.
We have been down this road before. Retired General Yakubu Gowon was 32 years of age when he becomes Head of State in 1966. He remains the youngest ruler we have ever had. Unfortunately, his youth did not translate to great governance. He led Nigeria into a civil war that killed millions of people.
He killed the federal system of governance and introduced in a unitary form of government. Nigeria is still suffering from his blunders. The drums of Biafra are louder than ever. There are numerous states that don't contribute anything to the nation but receive monthly allocations from the Federal Government, thereby draining the little national funds. Gowon remains one of Nigeria's worst rulers. It is quick to romanticise about the Obamas, Macrons and Trudeaus.
Young charismatic leaders who look like movie stars might be the in thing. This is a trend no doubt but the reason why these young politicians made or are making an impact is that of what they have inside of them. They are not good politicians because they are young, they are good politicians because they have what it takes to rule nations. It has nothing to do with their age but the quality of their thinking and strength of character.
Those who point to the school of young people having all the answers should know that Valentine Strasser became the military ruler of Sierra Leone three days before his 25th birthday. His regime wasn't wrapped in glory. He and his inexperienced band of soldiers made international blunders and bad economic policies. They were also very corrupt. Predictably they were kicked out in another coup.
Yes, Nigeria is biased against its young. There is the common belief that wisdom comes with old age. We all know by now that is not true. For those who want young people without experience to lead, the continent is filled with tragic stories of young leaders who absolutely nothing. What Nigeria needs is a political process that ensures that whoever is running for office has proven him or herself for the job. Young people (and old people) do not have the answer.
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