Today, many Nigerian youth are yearning for a revolutionary displacement of the nation’s leadership. They want new and younger people to replace the incumbents, and are willing to achieve this objective through turmoil and rebellious revolution. While I am indifferent to the age group of most African leaders, I strongly believe young people can also lead in certain quarters.
More concern should be given to leaders’ productivity than their
ages. In the United States, the late Senator Robert Byrd (1917-2010) was
West Virginia’s Senator from 1959 to 2010, making him the
longest-serving member of the United States Congress. Recently,
19-year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait was elected a Member of Parliament
in Uganda by the people of Usuk. The electorate cast votes in her
favour because they believe she will perform well in office.
In Nigeria some youth are even asking to reconfigure the three major
ethnic groups into individual republics due to continued threats and
attacks from Boko Haram, the seemingly uncontrollable forces of
terrorism dominating the Northern region of the country. There is
concern about leaders perceived to lack transparency, selflessness and
However, I am not fully convinced that a rebel-led revolution is the
best way to create lasting and favourable change in Nigeria and other
African societies. The anarchy of revolution is incapable of resolving
the major problems in the continent. Though persistent aggression will
eventually create change, such a change will come with its attendant
problems. The socio-economic implications of prolonged disorder, the
formation of new and stronger political cliques, and a need to eliminate
the dangerous weapons that were instrumental in enforcing change are
just some of the major problems that emerge after a typical armed
revolution. The goings-on in Tunisia and Egypt have yet to persuade me
to think otherwise.
Again, leadership inferiority is not absolutely the root cause of the
challenges in Nigeria. Rather, it is one of the fruits of general
citizenship misconduct. Bad leaders are citizens who were born by
certain parents and groomed by some mentors. To identify the origin of
the nation’s dominant problems, certain key questions must be answered:
“Why did parenting and mentorship fail for many years without a rethink?
Where were those who should have corrected our leaders when they
started erring? How did parents and mentors become corrupt elders
seeking gifts, cash prizes and contracts from persons for whom they
should be responsible? Why did godfathers and elite elders become myopic
for earthly interests?”
These questions should be answered and the lessons learnt should be applied now and in future. The aftermath of uprisings will neither create instant employment for
the majority nor bring more order into the society. In fact, leadership
following a rebellion operates under high pressure because people’s
expectations are elevated.
Read More at: Commonwealth Correspondence Portal