I was invited to a meeting of the Coalition for Nigeria by one of the “fathers” of the movement. Before the meeting, I had a chat with this patriotic Nigerian who told me: “Fred, our time is past; Nigeria should be in the hands of your generation. It is left for you (the youth) to take back the country, this is the mission of this coalition.”
Honestly, I would have thought that these words were a tapestry of chicanery if they were from another source. I saw the candour and urgency in his voice, but I thought to myself, could I be used? What is in it for this person? After pensive ratiocination, I concluded that this was a 911 call to action. But I am yet to give a verdict on the movement.
Ibrahim Babangida, former military head of state, said on Sunday that Nigeria needed a generational shift of power in 2019. I agree. Our fathers have lost vision, and they are chasing a will-o-the-wisp. The Nigeria young should be given space in the leadership cockpit.
I know young citizens are suspicious of one another; I also know that there are fears that if the ark of leadership is on the shoulders of young people the country may wobble and sink into the abyss of anarchy.
In fact, a friend expressed this fear on my Facebook wall.
He said: “Nobody is going to give the youth a chance to rule this nation, but the youth have to come out and compete with the old folks. Moreover, you never can tell how corrupt the minds of so many of them are. In fact, in this materialistic era, we are bound to experience greater corruption with the youth at the helm of affairs than we are seeing today.
“Saraki was a governor in his youthful days what value did he add to the land and people of Kwara state? Saminu Turaki, Makarfi, Donald Duke and even Yahaya Bello of Kogi state. Please my brother let us do away with these youthful sentiments, and focus on how to use your pen to right the wrongs going on in our nation today. My experience working and socialising with my peers (the youth), had made me realise that 90 percent of our young ones today in Nigeria don’t just want to lead or rule but they want to be billionaire statesmen.”
My response to all young people who harbour this fear is: “I agree we have corrupt young men and women, and that we also have incompetent young men and women, but I believe we have a greater number of principled and competent young men and women than the obverse who can effect seismic progress in the country. Let the young at least try, if they fail, they will get back up and run. The Nigeria young should make a pledge – no to any candidate above 45 years.”
Now, I am not endorsing the possible manipulations of the strong and old political class to install some dim-wit or entitled offspring of theirs – who can serve their selfish agenda just because such an individual falls within the age bracket being suggested here, but to get us to embrace the possibilities of a young, aware, vibrant, healthy, intelligent, smart and decisive individual who can run the affairs of the nation for four to eight years and still have enough lifeblood in him to proffer realistic solutions even after he has handed the baton of leadership to a successor.
In conclusion, we cannot keep holding ourselves back with the spectre of fear. I believe the present and the future matter to us more than to our parents who are already knocking on heaven’s gate. We need the youth to solve the problems of our country with new methods, vigour and ideas, and not with old and tired hands and ideas. The problems of the 21st century require the ideas of the new age.
Fredrick is a journalist.