Since Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party shocked the Conservatives and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada with a surprise victory in the parliamentary election in the country on Monday, Facebook and indeed the blogosphere have been abuzz with what I call “ntoorified” commentaries on the issue of age and leadership in Nigerian politics and government.
Well, first off, let’s congratulate the 43-year-old Trudeau for leading his party to victory. He is well and truly the next Prime Minister of Canada, and deservedly so. I dare say he worked very hard and earned his new position.
Lest we forget, Trudeau’s ascension to power/office comes 43 years after his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, first swept to power in the country. So, he’s not entirely a stranger to politics and power neither is his a “rags to riches” story. But even so, he was considered good enough to lead his party, and lead his party to victory he did.
How many of those clamouring for “youth empowerment” in Nigerian politics are making the requisite effort? What level of apprenticeship have they undergone? How much network have they built across the geopolitical zones of the country? Can they claim superior intellect and understanding of the issues and dynamics of the politics of the day (and night) than the so-called old people they gleefully vilify? Or, are they just grumblers rambling all over the social media seeking for power to be “handed over” to them on a platter of gold.
Whereas I believe that the leading political parties, the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, should have a deliberate policy of grooming young people to take over leadership, it behoves the youths to position themselves well for the challenge of leadership. A former deputy governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro, recently put this matter in perspective and so I do not intend to belabour the matter.
Meanwhile, we must ask ourselves some salient questions: How well have the young men and women who have held key positions in politics and government since 1999 done? I remember Bukola Sakari, James Ibori, Donald Duke, Orji Uzor Kalu and several others who were governors between 1999 and 2007. Liyel Imoke and Chibuike Amaechi have just done two terms each in Rivers and Cross River states, respectively. Quite a few young men and women have also been in the state Houses of Assembly and the National Assembly. Anyim Pius Anyim was less than 45 when he was Senate President. Amaechi was less than 35 when he became Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly (which he served for eight years) and then governor (for another eight years) before he turned 50! Several examples abound from other parts of the country.
Perhaps, we, the youths of this country, need to ask ourselves some honest questions-especially with the news of Trudeau’s election still top of mind