“Our youth are not failing the system; the system is failing the youth. Ironically, the very youth who are being treated the worst are the young people who are going to lead us out of our nightmare” – Rachel Jackson
Africa needs a fresh political atmosphere, as against the inefficient, unproductive and unenthusiastic climate of leadership we are experiencing today. Africa has the oldest set of political leaders, compared to the other continents, and this has affected the socioeconomic growth of our continent greatly.
Across the world, leadership thinking has shifted from the erroneous belief that experience, age, and maturity were the dynamics that led to modern and innovative systems. Most countries of the world are diverting significant resources toward securing the future of their countries – by preparing the younger generations for responsible and productive leadership in politics, business, technology and other areas for sustaining democracy. Unfortunately, the reverse is the case in Africa, and Nigeria in particular.
Over the years, the Western world has been grooming young, vibrant, innovative and productive leaders. The young Western leaders continue to inspire more young leaders around the world. For example, the role of former American President, Barrack Obama, cannot be underestimated in the emergence of Emmanuel Marco of France.
The biggest challenge to the achievement of meaningful and sustainable political leadership in Africa and Nigeria, without doubt, was predicated on the belief that age and experience were the biggest prerequisites for leadership. That notion had its root in how African societies had maintained themselves, by recognizing the older members of “the family” as the leaders. That arrangement has regressed African society for so long. ‘The child that is not allowed to try out new things cannot learn new things.’
The erroneous belief that only the older generations should have the rights and privileges to political leadership has caused Africa to lose the fresh and dynamic opportunities that the younger generations brought to the leadership podium. The older generations continue to recycle themselves in leadership positions as a result of greed, self- service, and sit-tight mentality. The mediocrity sustained by the older generations continues to create unproductively in our socioeconomic life as a people.
Given the global shifts and trends at this material time, development is dependent on innovative leadership and technology. There is need for change in the leadership environment in Nigeria and across Africa. Most African presidents are in their 60s, above 70s, and some are even above 90 years of age! The same can also be said about the members of their cabinet. With the aforementioned leadership based on age, how do we expect productivity in Africa? Most of the older leaders have lost the strength and vigor needed to manage the new age economies and the intellectual capability to manage scarce resources.
President Barack Obama was young when he took over governance in America. It was the same with David Cameroon, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Both of the leaders performed brilliantly and turned around the socioeconomic lives of their countries respectively. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justine Trudeau and the newly sworn in French President Emmanuel Macron are good examples of how the younger generations can lead their countries successfully. Indeed, leadership is changing across the world!
It is disheartening that Nigeria’s and Africa’s fresh human resources, many of whom are leading lights in their respective professions, are being crippled by lack of visionary, vigorous, enthusiastic and progressive minded leaders. No wonder Prof. Eghosa Osagahe, Vice Chancellor of Igbinedion University and a Political Science scholar once said that Nigeria was a “crippled giant.” One could say the same about the African continent.
The era of political leadership based on the erroneous ‘age system’ is over. It is time for the younger generations to take the lead in our social, political, and economic life. The youth have the strength and number to wrestle and revive the tempo of leadership in Africa. The youth dominate the entire African population – we can use that to our advantage, because politics is a game of number.
The past and the current political leaders have used the youth in time of politics and politicking. After achieving their objective, the older generations turned the younger generations to objects that lacked value. The youth at this time need to strategically take over governance from the ‘political vampires’ and redefine the destiny of Africa. We have to reject the worthless gifts given to us by the older generations and wrestle power from the old, self-centered, and unproductive leaders, who have brought misfortune to Africa.
We need the brilliant young minds with Integrity and unquestionable records to take over leadership in Africa.