I was working on a piece about rational choice theory in the Nigerian context, wanting to link it up with present scenario in Nigeria. 80% complete I decided to return it to my archive for further reading. What however caught my attention is a subtle message being sent out by the ruling elites across Nigeria, the idea that we are equals and there is no space within the polity for young people except being appendages to their ego. 3 different events caught my attention during the week.
The much awaited Future Nigeria Symposium for Young & Emerging leaders kicked off on March 19, 2012, twitter world kept updating while the expected live stream was barely audible. So this afternoon, a one hour summary of the symposium was aired on Channels TV using the regular #RubbinMinds slot which is a youth platform run by Future Nigeria. Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s comments about young people wanting to participate in governance caught my attention, it was very obvious he was not buying the idea nor giving it a second thought. Hold on, the Rivers State governor was emphatic about how having a younger generation in government would end up in mismanagement of the treasury, so they should rather tag along and put pressure on people like him in government to perform. It would interest you to know that the same Rotimi Amaechi became the Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor of Rivers state in 1992 at age 26, was elected to the Rivers State House of Assembly and was the speaker for 8 years from 1999 at age 34 and was elected governor of Rivers State in 2007 at age 42.
Then the tweet answer of the former Minister of FCT and certified ruffler of feathers popped up on my timeline
@elrufai: “@bashirenesi: u criticized Gen. Buhari as too old for president, y do u now support him ?”…the younger ones are not as good, or honest!”
I supported General Buhari in the last elections and his credibility was one of the reasons why I decided to campaign for him. Nasir El Rufai served as an adviser in the transition government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, at age 38 in 1998, became Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises and the Secretary of the National Council of Privatization where he spearheaded the privatisation of many government-owned companies at the age 39 in 1999 and he became the minister of Abuja FCT at age 43 in 2003.
Then the news of the young Special Adviser (advocacy) to the Minister of Youth Development joining the ruling party, PDP, filtered in. I was elated to hear about young people joining political parties to participate in the polity though I have my reservations about PDP as a party, 13 years in power with little or no opposition yet the ruling cannot give concrete account of its leadership, continuity and stability. When President Yaradau and Goodluck got into office with the latter eventually becoming president, one would have though the opposition won the elections with the cluelessness and loss of focus by the government.
Just as I was savouring the news, I got to hear about PDP electing a new national youth leader in person of Mala Umar Garba, age 60. I was like what the heck? Was this not the same man who claimed he was 57 years old in a newspaper interview in 2008? My next series of tweets were:
“PDP CHANGE: Umar Garba Chiza, 60 years old, becomes PDP National Youth Leader. Bamanga Tukur the National Chair is 77years old”
“If the PDP national Youth leader is 60 years old, I wonder what Ohimai will be in PDP #justcurious”
“PDP BOT Chairman OBJ is officially 75”
“Bisi Akande the chairman of ACN is 73years old”
“Muhammadu Buhari the CPC leader is 70years old”
“The PDP National Youth leader is the same age with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Imagine Tinubu leading twales at Ojota”
The new PDP national Chairman, Bamanga Tukur is 77years old, he became the general manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority at about the age of 37. I quoted Governor Raji Fashola at his last re-election manifesto saying “the problem is not with their age but the age of their idea”. Egghead Odewale asked, what about regeneration and it dawned on me that the series of events that happened weeklong was a coded message from the ruling elites.I tweeted again:
“My father is 64years old, PDP National Youth leader is 60years old. what am I?”
“You are all calling me a toddler cos PDP National Youth Leader is 60, my father is 64 years old. My son is 9 years old. What am I?”
Before we begin the North vs the South divide, we must understand the political parties plus ruling elites have the same ideology of remaining in power till they die, they don’t see young Nigerians with equal rights to lead this nation. In the same week when the Future Nigeria symposium held to engage future youth leaders, the message either coded of subtly put across from the ruling elites, who at our age where opportune to serve this nation, is that they will not avail our generations the opportunity to participate in deciding the future of this country. The future they will surely not be part of.
I may be wrong or just worried but I leave you to connect the 3 events, you may have had other scenarios you did not take note of. If you pay more attention to the ruling elites, you will get the coded message.
Our culture and religion dwells on respect for elders in Nigeria but the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes all as citizens with equal rights. The race for 2015 has begun and surely it does not include you and me unless we have our own plans.