In august 1966 Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon became head of the federal military government and supreme commander of the armed forces of Nigeria, the highest office attainable by any individual equivalent to being the president in a democratic setting, yet he was only 32 years of age. In 1977, at the age of 32, Dr. Bello Haliru who hails from kebbi state was appointed a commissioner under the then military government of old Sokoto state, he later joined the Nigerian customs service in 1988 and rose to become the comptroller general of the customs service before retiring in 1995, he was appointed the minister of communications in December 2001 by the Obasanjo administration and until about four months ago, he was the minster of defence of our beloved country.
Dr. Dalhatu Sarki Tafida the present Nigerian high commisioner to the United kingdom became a permanent secretary in kaduna state ministry of health in 1976 at a tender age of 36, he later became the personal physician to Alh shehu shagari then the president in 1980. General Mohammed Magoro who incidentally is also from Kebbi state became the federal commisioner of transport at the age of 37 in the military regime of general Obasanjo in 1978 Obasanjo also became the head of state in 1976 at a tender age of 39, today gen. Magoro is a first term distinguished senator of the federal republic representing kebbi south senatorial district.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur born in 1935, a successful business man from Adamawa state who became the governor of the then Gongola state in 1983, later served as the minister of industries in the early 90`s during the reign of the late Gen. Sani Abacha. today he is the national chairman of the largest party in Africa the PDP at a tender age of 77. These are to mentioned just a few of the many distinguished elders that are still serving us in their sixties and seventies and in some few cases even eighties!
The fact i am trying to point out here is that these repeatedly celebrated success stories whom I have but only mentioned a few, with the exception of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, are still quite actively engaged politically in different capacities today because they were introduced to political responsibility in their tender youth and were simply acting out the script of political mentorship and generational succession as laid down by our founding fathers; the Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the sir Abubakar Tafawa balewas and co. they were all selfless leaders who identified potentials and groomed them towards becoming leaders.
The questions that still baffle me today remain whether the youths of today are so incompetent? Or have we failed to build the capacity that will encourage our fathers to trust us with the leadership of our today and the planning of our tomorrow both economically and politically? At what point did we derail from the traditional mentorship and succession system that has today prevented our aged parents from retiring in peace? or was it never in place to begin with? Whichever is the case, it only proffers more questions that I cannot dare or even contemplate answering without the risk of self indictment, or pointing an angry finger at some septuagenarians for their actions or inaction in the past, the fact is, who are we really serving? Self or country? And who is really to be blamed? The youths or our parents?
The absence of this mentorship and a succession plan especially in the north has created a wide gap of disconnect between these aging elites and the upcoming youths, hence, the same tired hands are recycled over and over again in most of the prevailing political leadership positions. Aside from some of their children that were perpetuated to certain positions because of the surnames they bear, the other few who have managed to break into relevance today had to struggle to create such a value for themselves that has made it necessary to engage them and mostly at some unmentionable cost.
The youths must wake up from this elite induced somnolence and mental slavery of epidemic proportion that has blinded us from recognising even our own rights let alone strive to create value for ourselves in whatever capacity we are engaged in. When given the opportunity to serve and make a difference in our nation we must try to create a niche for ourselves by being upright and selfless so that we don’t drag our generation and nation into ignominious shame as witnessed in a very recent past which even though is a setback, is no justification for the perpetual recycling of tired old men in power . We have intelligent young people in their millions with a lot to offer but are being relegated to mere spectators in the scheme of things. Today in every growing economy the world over, the youths are the main drivers of the new economy. We must identify such potentials, engage these young people productively and groom them towards becoming the selfless leaders that will propel this great nation towards achieving true greatness tomorrow. it is indeed true that any nation that fails to plan is certainly planning to fail.
Our parents must also shelve this self attitude and put the nation first in all they do and begin to take responsibilities for their actions and inaction, they must know when to become drivers and also recognise the time they need to be chauffeured in the back seat of the process of leadership, that way they can provide visionary and pragmatic mentorship that will be respected by all. these we must all do to correct the many inadequacies in our national life that is consequent upon this gross intergenerational injustice for the sake of our children, so that they may have a Nigeria they can aspire to lead tomorrow.
President, Arewa transformation and empowerment initiative (ATEI)