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Let me commence by congratulating very heartily, our youths, who have been further encouraged by the law to aspire to political leadership position through the signing into law of a bill, by President Muhammadu Buhari that lowers the ages for participation in electoral contests; thus accommodating the younger aspirants hitherto subjugated by the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic on account of young age. It has been a worthy and patriotic struggle by Nigerian youths whose consciousness has been aroused by occurrences all over the world and the contributions of Nigerian nationalists who struggled and won independence for Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday May 31, 2018, gladly signed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill into Law at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The law reduces the constitutional age qualification for president from 40 to 30; governor from 35 to 30; senator from 35 to 30; House of Representatives membership from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly membership from 30 to 25. The issue is indeed part of a Global Campaign Promoting Right of Young People to Run for Public Office and was launched at the first United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, at United Nations Office in Geneva in November, 2016. The campaign, launched by a partnership consisting of the Office of the UN Secretary-Generals Envoy on Youth, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the European Youth Forum (EYF) and the Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), aimed to elevate the promotion of young peoples right to run for public office and address the wide-spread issue of age discrimination.

How did it begin? The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, was quoted as asserting at a meeting in Geneva that: Younger generations are not adequately represented in formal political institutions such as Parliaments, political parties and public administrations. This leads many to feel leadership and policymaking are reserved for an élite. A society that does not fully respect everyones equal right to participate is fundamentally unsound. The right to express opinions including criticism and to participate in public affairs are essential to ensuring state institutions are accountable, grounded in service to the people. Fortunately for youths, it is also the contention of the International Parliamentary Union, through its Secretary General Martin Chungong that: If young people are not too young to get married, to serve in the military or to choose the parliamentarians who will represent them, they are Not Too Young to Run. IPU Member Parliaments agreed to this in 2010 when they adopted a resolution on youth participation in the democratic process. If more young MPs were elected, there would be more role models from whom young people could take their lead and engage in politics. The time has come to increase youth representation in politics and we are happy to join forces with the United Nations Envoy on Youth in this endeavor.

Governance is about providing solutions to problems. But it goes beyond what government alone could handle without the involvement of the citizenry. TERRIFIC HEADLINES once pointed out, and rightly too, that it would be unconstitutional for youths to ask the older generation to leave the political scene for them to take over, without any contest. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, once rightly asserted that Power is not served à la carte. You must work for it and devise the strategies of pushing out old people democratically. Youths at the Villa must have heard President Buhari state in part that: We The People … that indicates that we are in a representative democracy. Nigerias foremost nationalists succeeded largely because they were competent and they prepared themselves for the task of nation-building. Lets quickly run through a list of prominent Nigerian leaders who made it relatively early in life:

Herbert Macaulay Father of Nigerias nationalism. He was a nationalist, politician, engineer, architect, journalist, and musician who made impact at the age of about 50 years
Bode Thomas . Western Nigeria’s first Minister of Transportation at the age of 32 years became the legal adviser of Egbe Omo Oduduwa
Obafemi Awolowo One of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived. Needs no further introduction
Nnamdi Azikiwe One of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived. Needs no further introduction
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa One of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived. Needs no further introduction
Ahmadu Bello … One of the greatest Nigerians that ever lived. Needs no further introduction
Mallam Aminu Kano noted for his reformist ideas gained prominence on Nigerias political scene early in life
Anthony Enahoro Became the first Nigerian to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence in the Federal parliament in 1953
Matthew Mbu Became a Federal Minister at the age of 23 years
Adegoke Adelabu Was Nigeria’s Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services at the age of 36 years
Mbonu Ojike A Nigerian nationalist and writer, was Second Vice President NCNC and Deputy Mayor of Lagos at the age of 37 years and became Eastern Region Minister of Works four years later
Richard Osuolale Akinjide … Legal luminary, an extremely intelligent politician and statesman became a Federal Minister before attaining the age of 30 years
Innocent Audu Ogbeh Emerged Deputy Speaker, Benue State House of Assembly at the age of 31 years and was Federal Minister of Communications at 35 years
Liyel Imoke Became a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the age of 30 years
Iyorchia Ayu Elected President of the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria during the Nigerian Third Republic in 1992 at the age of 39 years
Yakubu Gowon Headed the Federal Government of Nigeria at the age of 31 years
Murtala Muhammed Headed the Federal Government of Nigeria at the age of 38 years
Olusegun Obasanjo Headed the Federal Government of Nigeria at the age of 39 years
Abdur-Raheem Adebayo Shittu … Became the youngest Member Old Oyo State House of Assembly at the age of 26 years in 1979.

One factor to note is that the political scene of the colonial era was not as congested as we have now. Many of those notable politicians could be said to be a little bit lucky as they were not exposed to the fierce opposition that marks todays political arena. But they will be credited with great sense of patriotism and, honesty and showed great promise. Youths must have a clear understanding of what they would inherit, and what they plan to do before aspiring to leadership positions. Some would inherit not too bad economies at the three levels of government, while several others may inherit bashed economies if their ambitions are realized. Nobody will listen to the alibi of inheriting bad economies because you must have researched critically into what you are going into before venturing into political governance. Not many politicians of today engage in research, and development of policies and plans before aspiring to leadership positions. Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe were master strategists because they were very well prepared and were most intelligent and resourceful. They embraced the policy of visioning and long-range planning. The fact that money bags are around is not an enough reason to be defeatist in your attempts. The best way for youths to emerge as leaders is to start their campaigns now and educate the citizenry on democratic conducts. I have viewed a few brilliant and young Nigerians with honest intentions argue and present their points articulately on television programmes. But there are several obstacles, particularly the mind-set of the electorate and the current political setting; particularly funding.

A research indicates that leaders across the world, from democracies, monarchies, and dictatorships in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and Middle East, have a mixture of young and old Heads of State. The Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong Un, the youngest President in the world was born is 1983. Emmanuel Macron, the French President is only 39 years old. He is two years older than New Zealands Jacinda Ardern, who is 37 years old; while the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is 38 years old. Estonia, Ukraine and Macedonian governments are headed by 38 year-old presidents. The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada, addressed as Monsieur le Président, Mr. Geoff Regan is 59 years old. German President, Angela Markel is 64 years old. Another female, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados is 53 years old.

On the other hand, the old ones are thriving on account of constitutional entitlements since you cannot chase them away on account of age. The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump is 72 years old. The seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad is 92 years old. The Emperor of Japan is 90 years old; President Paul Biya of Cameroon is 85 years; and Dame Marguerite Pindling of Bahamas is also 85 years old. Another issue of importance is that nobody, or political institution will most probably give way to contestants on account of international conventions. For instance, the Convention on the Political Rights of Women that was approved by the United Nations General Assembly during the 409th plenary meeting, on 20 December 1952, and adopted on 31 March 1953; and which has been domesticated is still having some challenges. Women are still battling with poor representation and the promoting of gender equality in governance; and this cuts across all the political parties. Youths will have to fight harder than entrenched interests to prove their worth in the nomination and selection processes. You will confront the problem of finances and acceptability.

Youths who are now warming up may find this information useful: Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa. Nigeria is blessed with huge natural and material resources waiting to be tapped. About 20 million Nigerians live outside the country as world-class professionals. Nigeria is desirous of attracting meaningful investments as a way of promoting economic development, and by implication, the living standard of the citizenry. A critical appraisal of the present economic situation indicates the need to strengthen the small and medium scale industrial and agro-allied sectors in Nigeria. In the past few years, the Federal Government of Nigeria has accordingly introduced far-reaching reforms directed at sanitizing several sectors of the economy. Indeed, Nigeria is a strategic country in Africa, the engine of the economy of West Africa, and the catalyst of African renaissance. Nigeria plays a leading role in Africa that is widely regarded as the next frontier of the global economy; with emerging success stories, in spite of the huge challenges currently confronting the continent. Nigerias economy constitutes 76 per cent of the economy of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. Nigeria also holds 30 per cent of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa and 21 per cent of Africas economy. Nigeria is a middle income, mixed economy and emerging market, that aims to become one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020.

Regrettably, our values and norms have since shifted since the exit of great Nigerians who fought for Nigerias independence, and we require reorientation and dedication to be able to turn the situation around. The onerous responsibility that devolves on leaders of various levels of governance is a clarion call on them to critically examine themselves and inculcate rich values and virtues of honesty, transparency and prudent management of resources. Youths struggling for prominent leadership positions are reminded that the global community is aware that the developing world, particularly Africa is still confronted with the problem of managing a plural community; plural in ethnicity, religion and culture, in the face of diminishing economic resources. This factor is evidently the source of growing tension and conflict that plague the stability of nations. They must seek to correct all these ugly incidents that dot the political landscape.

No one could also tell if the youths will embrace the joke of President Muhammadu Buhari for them to wait till after 2019 before contesting; having signed the Bill into Law, except it is so expressly stated in the new Law. More importantly, youths must all must recognize the fact that leadership is one of the hardest of tasks. It is an endowment. Terrific Headlines once warned that they might find governance in Nigeria to be something like an Autonov, a motor vehicle designed by mechanical engineer and genius, late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi, with front and rear steering. While there is a driver handling the front wheel, there may be another driver handling the rear steering; both driving in opposite directions. Youths must be adequately prepared. How did Obafemi Awolowo and others succeed? Check this quote by Awolowo: While many men in power and public office are busy carousing in the midst of women of easy virtue and men of low morals, I, as a few others like me, am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep.

Pastor Enoch Adeboye, in the Daily Devotional of the Redeemed Christian Church of God asserts that: We are in a world where instant riches, riotous living, exhibition of immorality and the pursuit of extreme pleasure have become attractive to people. Now, wealth and fame derived from participation in vices (such as corruption, gambling and drug-trafficking) are being celebrated, even among some so-called Christians. Some attributes that used to be highly valued in society, such as integrity, diligence, moral principle and godliness, have become things of the past and are now looked down on. The younger generation seems to have a warped idea of what success really means. Consequently, predators are using the weapon of deception to entice vulnerable individuals into evil deeds, such as sexual gratification in exchange for favours, drug-related businesses, human trafficking, organized crime, internet fraud, and many others, promising quick money, political appointments, business opportunities, rapid job promotions etc. Is anyone promising you something in exchange for nothing? Ensure that you do not fall for any deceptive proposal of the devil. The rich and powerful do not give away their favours for free. They always ask for something in return, and their demand is usually much greater than their initial investment. If care is not taken, you may lose your own soul in the process. Dont be carried away by any delicious offer, because it is really nothing but deceitful food laden with poison. Youve been warned!

TERRIFIC HEADLINES wishes all intending elective materials all the best; with a prayer that the best candidates may emerge.


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