We are bemused with the new frenzy catching Nigerian youths like a feverish catarrh on the ‘Not Too Young To Run the bill,” ahead of the 2019 general elections, which to us, is like the fairy tales of the Sugarcandy Mountain in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
In actual sense, it is not too tall a dream for the youths, being the most viral and productive age-group of any society, to aspire for leadership positions, but for a country like Nigeria, it is like forcing a round peg into a square hole.
Moses, the tame Raven and the Joneses’ favorite pet in the satirical novel, Animal Farm, has the suasive and imaginative powers to narrate and captivate the sentiments of its listeners, deceiving them about the Sugarcandy Mountain, a mysterious country flowing with all the goodies of life and devoid of sorrows.
So is everyone crying on the mountain tops and clamoring for Not Too Young To Run like John the Baptist in the wilderness, raising shallow hopes and dreams of every Nigerian youth in a complex nation like Nigeria.
As much as we don’t believe in such wild dream, we admire a 23-year old orphan and penultimate in one of the Kenyan universities, John Paul Mwirigi, who set set a template for youths around the world, especially in Africa, with his landslide victory to clinch the Igembe South Parliamentary seat in Meru County with 19, 366 valid votes.
The amendment of the 1999 Constitution on the bill to reduce age qualification for presidency from 40 to 30 years, governorship from 35 to 30 years, Senate from 35 to 30 years, House of Representatives from 30 to 25 years and state assemblies from 30 to 25 years, bordering also on special grace for independent candidature. All these seem good but incapacitated by the Nigerian factors.
As the Kenyan story served as a great fillip for the Nigerian youths who had a major breakthrough recently in the National Assembly with the Not Too Young To Run Bill, the political parties and country at large are strong brick walls against the 2019 political dreams of young Nigerians to forcefully retire the old politicians on the political scene.
The Nigerian factors are typified by the Expression of Interest (EOI) for the presidency pegged at N5million and the nomination form, N40million, totaling N45 million. The governorship pegged at N22.5million, the house of assembly charged for N3.8million and National Assembly for N7million; as released by the National Organizing Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Emma Ibediro.
While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pegged its EOI at N2million and the nomination form costs N10million, totaling N12million. The governorship is N6million, the National Assembly pegged at N2.5million and the House of Assembly at N600, 000.
Instructable, we share the views of the President of Movement for the Survival of the Underprivileged (MOSUP), Mr. Dappa Maharajah, who noted that an average Nigerian with minimum wage of N18, 000 would have to work for 208 years to obtain the Presidential nomination of the APC, while such Nigerian will work for 55 years to pick same in PDP.
We wonder what happens to this nation if the youths have the opportunity to earn a job with N18,000 in the first place and save for more than 17 years to contest House of Assembly in APC and about three years to contest the same seat in PDP.
So, where are the leaders of tomorrow if not the same people who have stolen the wealth of the common men? How will the youths, who are gallantly unemployed, become the leaders of tomorrow. Dismally, some of them are suffering from Janupsychosis of oppression, as encapsulated in Ola Rotimi’s “If…the tragedy of the ruled.”
With these developments, some schools of thoughts and political analysts have posited that it is not yet “Uhuru” for the Nigerian youths, premising their thoughts not only on the poverty, unemployment and other social vices that abound within the age-grade, but also poverty of ideas which is a major, rampant social malaise among the youths.
With clear convictions, we always argue that the ascendancy of young people to power, without caution, will further worsen the situation of things in the country if “Philosopher-Kings” are not in power.
Also sharing the same school of thought with Maharajah, the work of Plato, the renowned philosopher and proponent of “The Republic,” submitted that politics and governance is not a tea-party or safari walk for any kind of jamboree, but requires more intellectual engagement and knowledge to enhance justice, equity, and laudable development in the society.
According to Plato, “a Philosopher King is a ruler who possesses both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life. Such are the rulers of his utopian city Kallipolis.”
Chronicling the qualities of the ideals of a Philosopher-King, the leader must have served in the military, civil service and public life where he/she must have garnered requisite experience, knowledge, wisdom, understanding and enough exposure to lead the people.
Summarily, as postulated in the views of Plato, there will be no end to the troubles of the states, humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in the world and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.
The youths are now more informed compared to the past. They are more aware that the politicians will dump them after the elections. They are aware that the paymaster will not groom them for future leadership. They are conscious of the fact that politicians will not send their children to commit evil in the society.
As postulated by those who actually want a positive drive with the Not Too Young To Run initiative, no doubt, ideal mentoring, consensus, cohesion and unifying ideology among the Nigerian youths will further lead to qualitative participation and inclusion in the political process.
There is a great need for the youths to unite as young people so that they can influence change in the country. If they are still divided along ethnic, religious or political lines then they cannot achieve tangible results. They must not allow the political elites to continue to use them against other youths.
The zeal and energy of the youths will be an added advantage if they hinge their political strength, though may not be immediate, but no doubt a steady preparation for future take-over, on self-discovery and intellectual development.
Most of the Nigerian leaders, the political elites do not have time for mentoring, only a few of them write books. If the youths do not want to continue to promote mediocrity, they must get relevant education to understand the dynamics of democracy and leadership. They should also acquire new skills and explore their hidden potentials so that they will not fumble when the mantle of leadership falls on them.
Let’s give them a trial, let’s even see them do it, if they make mistakes, they should be corrected. If you don’t allow a child to crawl; let this child crawl, walk, stand and fall, so that we can keep him up again and start running. But if we keep carrying this child, without a crawl; how will he walk let alone running?
If at all the youths must be actively involved in politics, they should grow through the process and not be too gluttonous with power by starting from the top. There is a dire need for the small beginning and develop with experience to crescendo to the top.
The youths, for now, don’t actually need the juicy political offices, they need good employment and opportunity for service where they can be promoted through the rank and files to become a Philosopher King for a better nation tomorrow. And like Amenhotep IV, through diligent service, they would know that the pride of a king is the utmost welfare of his people.
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