With the refusal of our octogenarians to relinquish the space for the younger generation in the political sphere, it has become imperative to seek ways of making them see reasons why the younger generation should be given the opportunity to govern.
The recent pronouncement by President Goodluck Jonathan that youths should be allowed to vie for the presidency could not have come at a better time. To fully understand the demand for 30% representation of youths in elective and appointive positions, we must have a clear view of how our present elders emerged in positions of leadership.
Former President Shehu Shagari became a federal legislator at 30 and minister at 35; M.T Mbu became minister at 25 and High Commissioner to United Kingdom at age 26. Richard Akinjide was education minister at 32; Maitama Sule was minister at 29. Audu Ogbe was minister at 35 while at 32 General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) became head of state and successfully led Nigeria through one of the most difficult times in her history and prevailed.
However, since the advent of democracy in 1999, our elders have consistently monopolized virtually all leadership positions, transforming young people into glorified thugs and tools for electioneering. They say we are leaders of tomorrow, while stubbornly refusing to allow tomorrow to come. The youth might not have the financial muscle to struggle for power with the elders on equal term, but in the words of Lupita Nyong’o, our dreams are valid!
Oche Joseph Otorkpa,