OUR PROMISE/VISION: At inception over one year ago, TERRIFIC HEADLINES promised to focus on a broad spectrum of the global community with emphasis on Nigeria, Africa, and indeed the whole world. We disclosed that our activities and publications would always be in good faith, and for future generations, in recognition of virtues and values that are worth reading and recording for posterity. Therefore, we shall sensitize Nigerians on their rights, privileges and obligations and to also influence the citizenry to embrace peaceful conducts and progress of the polity. We equally asserted that we will entertain only issue-based discussions grounded on merit, patriotism, fair play and justice. Therefore, our publications have been chiefly directed at influencing the citizenry for improvements, and also for better standards of living and conducts.
NIGERIA’S NATIONALISTS: Nigeria’s nationalist heroes; the Herbert Macaulays, the Obafemi Awolowos, the Nnamdi Azikiwes, the Tafawa Balewas, the Okoti-Ebohs, the Aminu Kanos, the Ernest Ikolis, H.O Davies, Ahmadu Bellos, Mbonu Ojikes of the boycott the boycottables fame, Samuel Akisanya, Michael Imoudus were in the age range of 30 and 50 years old when the fervour of nationalism in them burst forth. Similarly, Mokwugo Okoyes, Suad Zungurs, Raji Abdallahs, Osita Agwunas, Funmilayo Ransome-Kutis, Margaret Ekpos and Gambo Sawabas were at relatively young ages when they shook the Nigerian nation with their acts of patriotism. The names of these great Nigerians are recorded in the positive pages of history, for laying a solid foundation upon which their successors are to build a modern Nigeria. Matthew Tawo Mbu, popularly addressed as M.T. Mbu was 28 years old when he became a Federal Minister. Another high-flyer, Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide, SAN; was Minister of Education in the government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa at age circa 30 years.
NOT TOO YOUNG TO RUN: An encouraging development was recorded a few months ago when the Legislature and the Executive arm of government reduced the age limits for political offices to usher in younger leaders through the “Not Too Young To Run” Act. The law means the minimum age for presidential candidates is reduced from 40 to 35, and state governors and senators from 35 to 30. The minimum age for national and state assembly members will now be 25. The change in the law aims to increase the participation of young people in Nigerian politics, which has been dominated for decades by an ageing elite. Let me confess that I was one of those people who were cynical about the development given our political culture. I felt it was a brilliant move that would at least reduce comical shows like: ‘’Youths Ernestly Ask For Abacha; since youths have now been empowered to ‘’Ask for Themselves’’. It appears that youths may not ”Earnestly Ask” but ”Earnestly Ask for the Real Issue” that commands and interests voters these days, and may not be able to present a common front.
It is difficult to compare youths of that golden era with what we have nowadays for a few plausible reasons. Youths of the pre-independence era were political activists who were quite matured and cerebral. For instance, the Nigerian Youth Movement, comprised eminent personalities like Kofo Abayomi, Samuel Akisanya, J.C. Vaughan, Ernest Ikoli, H.O. Davies, Akinola Maja, and Adetokunbo Ademola. These young Nigerians came together as a ‘Study Circle’ and ‘’sponsored essay-writing, lectures, debates and book reviews. ‘’The body later became a forum for discussing political issues.’’ (Coleman) The reading culture then and today are obviously not the same. Let us be honest: Who reads today and what is the reading culture like? Rather than improve knowledge, the society prefers to read gossip columns and watch blue films. If the truth must be told, the level of intelligence and preparedness of both eras are incomparable. However, there are a few youths in Nigeria today, (both sexes) who are gifted and intelligent like the departed heroes and heroines
PESSIMISM: I have always not been too enthusiastic about the possibility of politicians yielding political positions to any segment or gender, not because I am not in love with these ideas. The reality is that I have always felt that no older contestant would give way to youths in the present-day Nigeria. More importantly, it is unconstitutional to bar anyone from contesting for elective offices on account of age in as much as that person satisfies constitutional guidelines and electoral regulations. Furthermore, I wondered how those young people would pay for nomination forms of political parties whose costs are too prohibitive.
Even, people up there, top politicians lament that they cannot afford to purchase nomination forms and groups of their supporters have had to sponsor purchase of forms for some principal figures. I also took cognizance of earlier Statutes and Conventions of sub-regional, regional and multilateral institutions on women that have not been respected. How have we responded to these conventions in the past three decades since the much-publicized Beijing Declaration came to the fore? The fact remains that until an aspirant comes out to take bold steps and proves his or her worth, no meaningful concessions would be granted by political parties as presently constituted; especially since political positions and power would not just be allocated like that, with party primaries now emerging the most contentious issue across most of the political parties.
CONSTRAINED!: I have listened to a few aspirants who have age to their advantage. I must say that Nigeria is blessed with some very brilliant minds who are currently jostling for election into coveted offices. These include: Kingsley Moghalu, 55 years old, a professor and former Deputy-Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Donald Duke, 56 years old; Adeolu Durotoye, a professor of Political Science and International Relations, who argues that the political field requires globally exposed, local breed; Remi Sonaiya, a professor; Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of the Federal Republic and ex-vice-president of the World Bank; Tope Fasua, 49 years old, an economist and writer; and Adeolu Akande.
I went through my social media channels this morning and read an information that prompted this piece. Posted by Jide Akintunde, who indicated that he is the Official Spokesperson for Presidential Candidate, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu and his ‘To Build A Nation’ (TBAN) Movement. It reads: Please join me to discuss the “Audacity of Kingsley Moghalu” the policy goals the YPP presidential candidate plans to achieve as President from May 2019. Moghalu assures: “I don’t make political promises. ‘’I have a plan. ‘’And I have a plan to execute my plan.” Concluding, the notification says: ‘’2019 is zoned to competence and vision’’
IS OUR SYSTEM RIPE FOR ALL THE POLITICAL PROMISES?” But the question remains: Is our system ripe for the type of exercises that threw up Emmanuel Macron of France at the age of 39 years, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in their 40s; British Prime Ministers, David Cameron, Tony Blair, and John Major in their 40s and George Weah of Liberia at 51 years? Is our system ready for anybody who is not a moneybag? Is our system ready for any independent-minded politician who is not prepared to her-worship and take instructions from godfathers instead of his/her constituents in a representative democracy? Nigeria currently has only 5 female presidential aspirants from 91 political parties looking towards Aso-Rock Villa in 2019.
Come to think about it: The five female presidential aspirants have the clout: Remi Sonaiya, a Ph.D holder; Professor Funmilayo Adesanya-Davies, Oby Ezekwesili; Elishama Rosemary Ideh, an evangelist; and the youngest of them all Eunice Atuejide, a legal practitioner and entry level politician contesting on the platform of the National Interest Party (NIP) who has asserted that:‘’ “I disagree with the notion that Nigeria is too complex; that our people are too difficult to govern, that our democracy will not work. I disagree.” Currently, Senator Biodun Olujimi is the highest-ranking female legislator in Nigeria and is the Senate Minority Leader.
What is the magic wand that will throw Nigerian women up there? Will Nigerian women be able to taste power like Margaret Thatcher did at the age of 53 years, Germany’s Angela Markel, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil; Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon; Indira Ghandi of India; Golda Meir of Israel; Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan; Helen Clark of New-Zealand; Luisa Diogo of Mozambique; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; Joyce Banda of Malawi; and Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica? What is the level of preparedness of aspirants under the platform of the registered 91 political parties? What about the huge investments in politics? Will pressure groups be able to cope with the demands of the system? Will godfathers allow ambitions to be achieved? Time will tell.
May the best aspirants emerge winners at all levels, the will of the electorate prevail; and may God direct Nigeria towards the path of greater development and the fulfilment of its place in destiny.