BusinessDay

2023: Age or competence?

It is crystal clear that the race to succeed President Buhari has begun tactically among politicians across major political parties. However, the loudest political clatters that currently rent the air are from old politicians, whose age falls outside the “not too young to run” demographic. Scrutinizing those currently indicating interest as presidential hopefuls from the two major political parties (APC and PDP), based on their age bracket; it is unambiguous that the coming election will be yet, another political battle among Nigeria’s orbiting and aging politicians.

To substantiate the opinion above, one does not need to embark on a long sail to draw reference. As it now stands, here are some of the old politicians, whose names have been mentioned as 2023 election is concerned: Prof. Yemi Osibajo (66), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (71), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku (77), Abubakar Bukola Saraki (61), Anyim Pius Anyim (62), Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso (67), Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha (61), Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu (60), Yahaya Adoza Bello (48) all the aforementioned politicians would have clocked those ages stated above by 2023, God’s willing. The only politician, amongst the list who is and will still be under 50 is Gov. Yahaya Adoza Bello of Kogi State, but whose horrendous governance shards and vanity, quash his supposed demographic advantage over the antique politicians.

The bitter truth is; the Nigerian youths prefer to be glued to their television screens and other digital devices to watch entertainment and plush shows rather than participating as proximate actors in the polity

That being said, there’re a few fortunate Nigerian youths that have been entrusted with political positions and have unfortunately validated the mantra by the old politicians that “Nigerian youths are lazy and inexperienced to govern”. Currently, the poor performances by these characters; have generated renewed polemics on whether the 2023 Presidential choice should be founded on the premise of age or competence.

Of course, there is a paradigm shift in politics and governance in other advanced climes and the truth is there are several examples of other nations like France, Chile, Finland, Kosovo, Georgia, El Salvador, Costa Rica just to mention but a few to draw inspirations from. In these climes, the youths and youth-at-heart politicians are gradually taking over political power, changing the trajectory of governance and using their creative clout to govern their countries. But unfortunately, the Nigerian youths appear to be politically passive but socially dynamic, energetic on many other issues such as entertainment, sports, technology, entrepreneurship, academics, etc. The Nigerian youths gleam more in those sectors and can rival favourably with their counterparts in the world but become spiritless in matters of governance and politics – yet they are the worst sufferers of governance ever!

Read also: Youths are veritable future to national development – Kumuyi

Without doubt, Nigeria is a complex nation and a multifaceted country like ours, needs a dexterous sailor to paddle her affairs but the question is; at this political epoch and considering the current developments in politics in the world, where power is shifting to the younger generation, do we follow suit in 2023 or look otherwise and continue to entrench the old “cargo” politicians in power?

The riposte to the poser above is something that will magnetize diatribes from many people, especially as it concerns the 2023 Presidential elections in Nigeria. But come to think of it? Are Nigerian youths ready for a paradigm shift in the coming elections? Have we seen such determination to take their destinies into their hands and mobilize themselves for the purpose of political inclusiveness? Do they have the requisite experience, emotional maturity, and political tolerance to govern an already divided polity like ours? The bitter truth is; the Nigerian youths prefer to be glued to their television screens and other digital devices to watch entertainment and plush shows rather than participating as proximate actors in the polity.

Consequently, as long as the narrative above lingers, the old politicians will continue to have their way and the Nigerian youths will only continue to grumble and simultaneously suffer the tactless governance of the old politicians. For the paradigm to change, the Nigerian youths must first join political parties or form a formidable political party and begin to participate actively in order to take over the mantle of leadership. In the words of Maureen “be bold and enter the ring. No one stays in his room to contest a wrestling”.

But frankly, I do not see Nigerian youths or any candidate that is youth at heart that will give any of the old politicians a run for their money in the 2023 elections.

Ojo is a political communications consultant and writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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