Appointment of Gambari as Chief of Staff is a lesson to Nigerian Youth Says ELFON President - Paul Ukpabio's Blog


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Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Appointment of Gambari as Chief of Staff is a lesson to Nigerian Youth Says ELFON President

A group of journalist today the 13th day of May, 2020 visited the National President of Emerging Leaders Forum of Nigeria (ELFON); Rt.Hon. Godstime Chukwubuikem Samuel in his Zion Boulevard abode, Owerri; the Imo state capital to get his reaction about the appointment of a 75 years old Prof. Ibrahim Gambari as new Chief of Staff to the president.

Hon. Godstime after welcoming the journalists started responding to their question by saying that Nigeria has a population of about 183 million humans, 60% of whom are between the age of 18 and 40, yet the country has been unable to translate the energy of its young population into development.

Godstime said that young Nigerians don’t only suffer marginalisation from a government that is run by a gerontocracy but are also victims of bad governance. It is not good enough for we as young people to say we are not too young to run, we should also be ready to run for elective leadership positions in Nigeria.

"When you look at the profile of the new chief of staff to the president; Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, you see intellectual preparedness, perseverance, qualities of leadership and readiness to serve. These qualities of his are the first pivotal base for his appointment seconded by his relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Following the age and antecedents of our President; Muhammadu Buhari, you will agree with me that his closest friends, allies will be people of same age bracket and as such his appointments will beam towards the obvious direction (gerontocracy) as this is what invoked the recent call for younger people to be able to run for offices. 

Yet, despite a new law being promulgated, it’s obvious that the gerontocracy isn’t ready for a transition into youthocracy because young people seem not too young to run but not ready to run too. I am sure Mr President has no young friend between age 18 to 45 with such intimidating qualities, academic awareness and leadership experience like Prof. Gambari has therefore Mr.President is right in his appointment, as the appointment of a Chief of Staff to the president is a supposed appointment for an ally, team player and diligent servant", Hon.Godstime expressed.

We can only have intelligent, vibrant but humble, politically aware, academically sound young persons between age 18 to 45 with intimidating leadership qualities appointed as Chief of staff to the president or as a Minister when we elect a president of same age bracket in Nigeria, the ELFON President pointed.

Godstime drew the attention of the journalists to history. He said most Nigerian cultures, starting with the family, roles are assigned based on age. In the political arena, the country has been through periods of being run by young men.

"In pre-colonial Nigeria as I have read, young people acted as the vanguard by providing security of their societies and serving to check or remove tyrannical rulers. The post-colonial environment gave rise to young people in military uniform taking over government through series of coup. These post-colonial coup beneficiaries were mostly under 45. They included Aguiyi Ironsi (42), Yakubu Gowon (31) , Murtala Muhammed (37) and Olusegun Obasanjo (38)".

Godstime maintained that student activists such as the late Segun Okeowo led the National Union of Nigerian Students to fight for welfare of students and protest against draconian policies during the famous “Ali must go protest” staged nationwide against “bad” education policy and it was the peak of active youth involvement in ensuring good governance. The current leadership of the youth and students’ movements have lost the ideology of the early years and have been co-opted by the ruling class in Nigeria, a mistake some of us made in the past...never again!, he exclaimed.

The signing into law of the not-too-young to run bill has been widely applauded as a step aimed at democratising the political space. But the facts contradict this.

The law before the 2019 general elections reduced the age for contesting for president from 40 to 35; 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.

But President Buhari asked Nigeria’s young people to wait until 2023 before contesting any elections. This was clearly a cynical political strategy designed to capture the vote of young people but leaving the status quo intact.

The National Youth Policy of Nigeria and the African Youth Charter pegs the age of youth between 18-35 years of age.

But there’s no consensus on this in practice. Most political parties are much more interested in experienced, versatile and loyal mobilisers. They are less interested in age than they are in candidates who have passion, energy and show enough enthusiasm and have political capital.

In pre-2015 presidential campaign, Nigerians were asked to choose between Goodluck Jonathan who was in his late 50s at the time and Buhari who was in his early 70s. Adverts were placed in newspapers warning against voting for an older person, pointing to the challenges of ill-health and inability to understand and cope with demands of modern governance.

As 2019 elections draw near, about 18 young people have indicated interest in the presidency. Ranging between the ages of 33 and 46, they come both from the diaspora as well as from within the country. Two of them, Fela Durotoye and Omoyele Sowore, have moved around the country to test the ground. They expressed distrust in the Buhari leadership and promised to edge him out of power in 2019.

Buhari’s Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, described them as inconsequential. That may be true given that the candidates have yet to connect with the real voters. And being young may not be an asset to leadership unless aspiring young leaders have the capacity and capability to govern.

The young aspirant politicians lack structures and the money, both of which remain strong factors in deciding politics in Nigeria. For example, the Young Democratic Party lacks the structure to change the political equation.

On top of this, those contesting positions in popular parties are former governors, former vice president, who are billionaires and have the structures (dominated by youths) to back them up.

A new paradigm was championed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who supported Buhari in 2015 but  spearheaded a movement that hopes to support a qualified younger presidential aspirant to unseat Buhari in 2019. This coalition of 38 political parties including Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and marginalised members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) signed Memorandum of Understanding. But most youth groups and movements were bought over by money bags supporting candidates of more prominent political parties with older flag bearers.

The implication of our actions then made the odds favour the old till date as the much Nigerian youths could get as appointment is either Special assistant on youth affairs or social media having noted that majority of Nigerian youths think less of making money through agriculture, sports, tourism,etc.

Hon. Godstime said the appointment of Prof.Gambari should be a wake up call for Nigerian youths to elect a dogged, intelligent, academically sound and service prepared youths as President, Governors, senators, representatives at the federal houses and state assemblies and Chairmen of local government council areas in the next elections.

For us in ELFON, we congratulate Prof. Gambari for a well deserved appointment while we continue with our business of conscientiously reviving the sensibilities of our members across the 774 local government areas and thousands of Wards in Nigeria never to repeat mistakes of the past but prepare in readiness to run and elect for Youthocracy Agenda.

We are poised to lead in every aspect and sector, be it in politics, education, Entrepreneurship, sports, tourism, youth development, ICT, Agriculture, and so on.

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