I am a Nigerian youth, in my early 30s, and I definitely want many in my generation, actually those less than 40, to be involved in governance at the middle and highest levels. And not some perpetual, errand boys for career politicians and power brokers!
Kindly do know that I’m in for political tutelage under good leaders. I am proud to say I have people I look up to for political education and sound leadership mentoring. No one becomes a leader by just waking up and proclaiming self to be one. You have to learn through the intrigues and intricacies of leadership.
And I’m gladly waiting for that day I’d be called upon to serve my land in whatever capacity at any level. This is the more reason I want President Buhari to engage more youths in running his administration.
The truth is that the youths made his victory happen. The grand old men only provided the material resources and some bits of political knowledge here and there.
The youths were the engine room of the campaign. Bursting with raw energy and will power, they took the message everywhere, mostly unpaid, like me. I can’t recall the number of essays and offline engagements I made to make it happen. At a time, I was even involved in a small strategy group with some experienced and elderly men and women showing us the way. It’s a valuable experience for me.
Be that as it may, I’ll like to remark that as much as I want to see the President recruit more members of my generation into his cabinet, it needs be stated that majority of us do not have the requisite capacity in terms of practical knowledge to deliver at critical levels of governance engagements. This is the truth as I see it.
I have seen a picture of a certain 25-year old lady who’s reported to be the culture and tourism minister in her country. Amazing. Brilliant, if you ask me. But how many 25-year-olds in this country actually have a robust knowledge of our culture and tourism potentials and can actually develop workable templates that will move the ministry forward, and the country at large?
Are we not in the same country where youths in the southern part of the country think anyone who comes from the north is either a Hausa man or a Fulani? They have forgotten that tribes such as Kanuri, Nupe, e.t.c abound there. And that’s in spite of the numerous lessons taken in Nigerian Peoples and Culture over the years in the various universities in the country tagged ‘General Studies’.
The same 25 and less who don’t know who Obafemi Awolowo is, ditto for Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ahmadu Bello? We are not raising a generation of home-made smart kids again. You risk giving them a difficult task if you ask them about Herbart Macualay. This is no exaggeration! It’s what I experience every day. Why is it so? It’s an institutional problem.
The truth, as I see it, is that our educational system is grossly deficient and incapable of producing graduates with sound capacities for quality service delivery. Of course you and I know the reasons for this. So, I need not detain us with the reasons and what can be done again. Several white papers are lying fallow in some government cabinet in this country that have talked exclusively on what to be done. The problem is the will to implement. I hope President Buhari will do that for us.
You can imagine a 30 year old Nigerian who still does not know what he wants in life let alone the way to go about it- despite having a university degree- The future is bleak and offers no ray of hope for such a person. Both the system and the individual are to be blamed for this. And I share the blame more in favour of the system than the man. It’s the system that churns out the total man. If the system fails, the man will fail.
For where a system is good, the human elements can hardly fail. Even where they fail, their number will clearly be in the minority. That’s a system that works. Sadly, and regrettably so, ours is programmed to educate us to fail, except where some seminal intervention occurs in the life of a graduate that changes his life for good.
In advanced countries such as the UK and USA, once you attend some certain top schools, chances are that you are a potential leader wherever you find yourself. How many of such schools do we have in our country? No Nigerian university, be it private or public, is found among the first 1000 universities in the world!
My observation has shown that guys between 30 and 40 in this country who have found themselves in leadership positions and did well of recent have a foreign degree in addition to what they probably acquired here before going abroad to validate such. The question remains: how many of us can travel abroad for better education? And why is it impossible for us to have an organic educational system that can do that without leaving the shores of the country?
I recently engaged a Mass Communication potential graduate. I asked him what their curriculum looked like in the teaching of new media studies. He said they did not have anything like that. I was shell-shocked. I mean in this new age of digital media that we are fast shifting away from the conventional media! We have a long way to go. I won’t be surprised if that is the way it is in other universities.
Pray, tell me how such a graduate, ill-educated as an undergraduate, will excel in an industry that is going completely digital these days! A reporter, most especially the one working for a daily newspaper, will have to rely on the social media for scoops in ‘breaking news’ these days. That’s the new reality. And that’s just an aspect of the new media.
I cite some examples here. And it’s that of Babatunde Raji Fashola, former Governor of Lagos State. In spite of his inadequacies and failings as Governor, the fact remains that by some valid account, he did well for the state. But he did not just happen on the state. He was first Chief of Staff to former Governor Bola Tinubu for a couple of years where he was exposed to the nitty-gritty of power and leadership at the highest level, before becoming the Governor. He was properly groomed. He was Chief of Staff when he was less than 40. How many Nigerian youths can be as fortunate as Fashola? Again, it boils down to the system.
Osita Chidoka is another good example. You remember him? He’s former head of Federal Road Safety Corps and the immediate past Aviation Minister in the erstwhile government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. Did he just happen on the country? No, someone somewhere, either by account of filial affinity or whatever catapulted him to the national space. Have you seen his resume? You need to see how some foreign system changed his mental capacity? Again, how many Nigerian youths can be as fortunate as Mr Chidoka?
Or Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, now Governor of Kaduna State. How many of us know that before he was made the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises he had already adequately prepared himself for the onerous task? He took courses in public service reforms abroad. And that was after his MBA from Ahmadu Bello University. He became a minister of the Federal Republic mostly on account of his performance while he was the DG of BPE.
I cited the three examples above in order to underscore the need to be discovered, and possibly tutored/mentored by some higher person before one can lay claim to playing any influential leadership role in the country. This is because, from inception, our educational system is not equipped to train anyone for leadership positions. This is the biggest of the challenges confronting the Nigerian youth today.
Of a truth, anyone less than 40, and who has not had the privilege of being mentored directly by a leader, and without a quality education from the west, in this country today, will be scared to accept a ministerial position today if given except if he wants to just accept it and go there to make a name for himself without posting any quality performance. He cannot deliver. It goes beyond mouthing we want more youths in leadership positions. The thing should me how prepared are we in terms of mental capacity and attitude to deliver.
We must confront the brutal reality that we have a bad system in place before we can begin to shift the burden of leadership from the older generation to the younger generation. Only few Nigerian youths have the privilege of being groomed by successful older men and women. Where a society is truly organic and functioning, it’s the system that will train them to be useful and not some few men!
What Nigerian youths should be more concerned with now, as I see it, is the need to change the entire system to be more responsive and engaging rather than pestering the older generation to vacate the leadership space and hand over to them even without the least of leadership capacities. Only very few of us, I mean those in my generation, can actually lead effectively. The reasons you and I know.
The members of the older generation have benefitted from a very robust system they inherited from the British. They destroyed it after taking over the reins of power, and here we are today. The youths should take the leaders up on the need to re-build the system to truly make it effective rather than yearning for leadership positions when one does not have the experience and capacity. The foundation has to be well-laid as no one can give what he does not have.
views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of blog author. materials and other news items on this Blog, can be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part provided that appropriate credit is given to the original sources.