Ekpa Stanley Ekpa
Our nation, like most African countries, is degenerating into deep developmental and integration crisis – a threatening quagmire challenging the core and fundamental pillars of our nationhood. This moment is like Charles Dickens’s “best of times; is the worst of times, it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness, it is the epoch of belief, it is the epoch of incredulity,” This moment in our national history beckons for a paradigm “leadershift” in our political landscape for a development solution driven leadership. A peaceful social political revolution through viable visions, critical social progress reasoning, credible leadership philosophy and the ballot box rather than the bitter bashing of the bullet. A new political culture that will usher in the solution generation leaders for development solution leadership within the socio-political framework of “YOUTHOCRACY”.
Youthocracy is a socio-political system of governance steered by competent young leaders with the credentials of capacity and credibility, viable development visions, and peculiar penchant for excellence in development solution leadership. The politics of our generation under the political framework of Youthocracy is a game of intellect, visions for modernizing Africa and preparedness to collaboratively leverage newer development solutions for enduring social progress. The concept of qualified young people governing the world in a shared sustainable approach and interest for balanced development is no longer a futuristic fantasy – it is a reality that present diverse challenges and plethora of opportunities for inclusive development solutions.
The solution generation must challenge the stereotypes and mainstream norms that have persistently stagnated the pace of our collective progress. The youth cannot continue to wait on the promissory note that purports to perpetuate them as the leaders of an unknown and uncertain tomorrow, thereby compromising their children’s right to lead their own future.
There are legion of legal framework for youthocracy scattered all over different jurisdictions which are not limited to the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights; Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; the African Youth Charter; and the Nigerian National Youth Policy (2009). In Nigeria, while the advocacy for the alteration of Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, to reduce the age qualification for political offices through the Not Too Young To Run Bill gains momentum, it is apt for youths to deliberately design a broader possibilities for their strategic involvements in societal affairs and decision making for development.
The problem is not solely with the current legal regime that places age limit for youth’s participation in elective politics, but on youths playing relevant roles that sufficiently prepare them to run at the significant time. Obama started as a community worker and even with his Harvard law certificate he knew what he wanted and most appropriate moment for him; instead of the youth from minority ethnic nations to complain all day about the politicized marginalization of the minorities in Nigeria’s governance structure, political wisdom demands of them to strategically reach out to other young people in other tribes and build reliable alliances across groups while trying to understand the thinking of the diverse ethnic nations of Nigeria and their cultural richness. Through this we can intermarry, build inte-tribal and religious confidence for trust and true friendship.
The emerging leaders must equip themselves with transcendent leadership savvies for re-engineering our collapsing development and governance structures. Youthocracy therefore, creates an expectation of concreted leadership responsibilities that go beyond the highfalutin rhetoric of “Not Too Young To Run”, the responsibility of modernizing Africa has got nothing to do with one’s age rather his capacity to deliver the dividends of good governance, corruption-free country and quality leadership. To save our country, the emerging solution generation leaders must golden-up, man up and own up the developmental process of their societies. This time in our politics frowns at the young people to continue playing the officious bystander role; this moment calls for a contrive springhtful ‘leadershift’ to reclaim sanity, political hygiene and good sense in the practice of progress; this moment squarely calls for a politics of national interest, politics of development interest and definitely not parochial interests; this moment must strictly be for a new trajectory of alternative answers, innovations and viable solutions that will modernize Nigeria and Africa at large.
Every generation deserves new heroes that will author her development templates through a new benchmark of quality leadership. The ancient tradition of youthocracy emerged with the first created or evolved man – young, dynamic and energetic, he galvanized and managed the affairs of his environment, increasing and recreating until the earth become home to billions of inhabitants. Through histories, young people have continually participated in advancing humanity and catalyzing critical social progress. The Nigerian young people must brace up for the real business of responsive governance. This is the most convenient time in our socio-political space for the youth to change from social media activism to agents of social change; from criticism to constructive engagements for alternative politics of progress. It is grossly insufficient to aspire to lead based on the sentiment of one’s youthfulness, it is more to acquire your opportunity to lead based on your competence and qualifications.
The hope of making Nigeria great lies in the hands, heads and hearts of the youth as the trustees of our prosperity. The young people must continually work as social partners for developmental revolution in Africa, having policy answers in all sectors of their countries. The emerging leaders must never see the philosophy of youthocracy as a societal class war or an age conflict with our leaders at the exit lodge of our leadership space, but must work hard in unity on the new slate of youthocracy by heeding to Buckminster Fuller to “never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” We need a coming together of a solution generation leaders like Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Donald Duke, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Pat Utomi, Fela Durotoye, Debola Williams, Adamu Garba, Ahmed Buhari etc., that will set a realistic vision for Nigeria’s development and integration for the next fifty or hundred years of our nationhood. We must avoid the delusion that extolls individuals as the solutions to our development challenges; all those who claim to have viable solutions to our collective challenges must come together to work together in fixing Nigeria.
Ekpa writes from Abuja