OPINION: The Not Too Young To Run Bill And The Matters Arising – By Dikko Muhammad
Recent days in Nigeria have been preoccupied by celebrations from the quarters of Youths on a bill that allows one to run for President at the age of 35, and Governor and House of Representatives less than that. This could be the precedent that will dominate the next general elections as “Sak” did in the last one. Right now some young men and possibly women have started charting ways of convincing the voters that it is good to try them. The campaign may succeed considering the dissatisfaction of youths against the largely tired, better retired, sleepy old people now in charge of political offices. I don’t attempt to delve into the very problematic notion of the youths (in Nigeria, people in their 50s are parading themselves as Youths leaders). My concern here is on the implications of the bill in our political spheres. I intend to sound realistic not pessimistic. So forgive the tone if it sounds inappropriate.
E.M Foster, the great English novelist and cultural critic once said that, “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Politics is such a sphere where one should tread carefully. Blackmails and intimidation are the usual means of taking down the opponent. Age and experience could be catalyst of resolving them. Leadership requires emotional and psychological maturity. You only need to visit the Facebook Walls of these young, aspiring leaders to know how impulsive they are in response to simple criticism. They don’t have the emotional maturity requires to contain blackmails from opponent. From 2015 to date, there were series of arrests orchestrated by young people in power because someone has criticise them. There were audio clips of young members of House of Assemblies and Representatives threatening their opponents. If we get lured by this bill, we might end up electing people that would be using police to bundle us into gaol!
The Youths think they have won a battle against the old people in the Senate. The Senate members too think they outsmarted us all. In the last few days, Senator Kabiru Marafa said his daughter has started eyeing his seat. With the passage of this bill, the Senate will be a hereditary chamber where the Senators would be replaced by their own Oxford and Cambridge educated sons and daughters. The ordinary young man has no money to spread around even if the forms are given free by the parties. That ordinary “nairaless, dollarless” young man could not get the party nominations because primary elections are up for sales. But the sons and daughters of the same old people he despised would use their parents’ money to get to seats reserved for them by their parents. That would leave us in a Ta-leko-ta-koma situation.
However, the most important question to ask is, “Why do the youths want a bill like this?” I stand to be corrected, most of them don’t know and don’t have the essential knowledge of leadership. They are just desperate to get there, to have a share of the illegitimate wealth. In fact, the bill ought to be called, “Not Too Young To Loot.” Considering the watery arguments they present, you can easily conclude that they are a bunch of hungry people whose mouths “water” at the very sight of an elected member with his jeep, his beautiful wives and concubines, and lavishly adorned estates etc. But they don’t know the real problems confronting the country. They are not intellectually capable of proffering solutions. They don’t have any role model in leadership whom they know and have read as an inspiration. A lot of them are fond of citing the 39-year old Emmanuel Macron, the youngest French leader since Napoleon. What they ought to know is that the man was in politics throughout the last decade. He resigned as minister to contest for the Presidency. Above all, he is supported by his 64-year old, well-read wife. Only God knows what he has tapped from her.
If we ask ourselves a simple question, what have the young people done in this leadership? The man calling himself the youngest Senator was stoned by angry youths in his Bauchi Senatorial district. The young Governor of Kogi State with his cabinet of young people are an archetypal example of failed youths project. In Katsina here, from May 2015 to date, the impeached speaker and the present one of House of Assembly are both young people, what have they achieved unique from their predecessors? The early we find answers to these issues, the better. These answers will guide against falling into Too Young To Run/Loot ditch as we leave the Sak ditch.
By the way, I am a young man in my late 20s.
Dikko Wurma Muhammad.