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Of democracy and youth integration

The world is yet to get over the shock of the emergence of Donald Trump, the man tagged as underdog by the news media despite his promising campaign slogan- ‘Make America Great Again’ as the newly elected President of United States of America. But of much concern to our polity at this dire economic season, is the shock in realizing that our law makers can identify with the plight of Nigerians resolute on making our fatherland great again! Ironic? Well, sadly, this is the sorry state of affairs in our fatherland.  While rejoicing over the move by the Nigerian Senate to mandate the private sector and MDAs to deemphasize age and cognate experience for employment purposes, we cannot hastily forget the relevance of the Age Qualification Bill which the move of the Senate sufficiently complements.

Hence this discourse would be tantamount to arguing that dirty water is useless for all purpose and cannot quench fire, without a précis of the #NotTooYoungToRunBill sponsored by Hon. Tony Nwulu representing Oshodi/Isolo II Federal Constituency of Lagos State. This bill is commendable in view of the fact that Nigeria’s life expectancy is about 53 years. Moreso, since the youth of our fatherland have been relegated to the background for decades, the season of growing up appears to have finally come to subplant the era of ‘Eze’ growing old in bound booklets.

Some cynics have expressed reservations, opining that only the offsprings of our present recycled leaders and their stooges would be the ultimate beneficiaries since they possess the financial muscle, godfathers and the wherewithal to pull through the rigorous path of sourcing for campaign funds, political party primaries, among other electioneering processes. But the law makers have demonstrated sincerity of purpose by this latest move. There appears to be a silver lining in our pregnant clouds. More so, there is greater consciousness amongst youths today who have become weary of recycled leaders and are bent on recreating Flora Shaw’s concept- Nigeria.

The introduction of ‘independent candidature’ by the Bill will foster the emergence of energetic vessels of national revolution and serve as the long awaited ladder for the marginalized yet acclaimed ‘leaders of tomorrow’. Remarkably, the #NotTooYoungToRunBill seeks to alter Sections 65, 106, 131, and 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), thereby reducing the age qualification for the office of the President from 40 years to 30 years; Governor 35 to 30, Senate 35 to 30, House of Representatives 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly 30 to 25.

No doubt, Nigeria’s fledgling democracy has failed to integrate the youth. This has made it impossible for the youth in our fatherland to take up different leadership roles — whether in government, business, the professions, non-profits, teaching, or the arts. The result of this is evident with the unrest in the South-East and South-South regions precisely, which is threatening to uproot our common heritage.

Now, it is believed that upon the passage of the Age Qualification Bill into law and implementation of the directive seeking to mandate the private sector and MDAs to deemphasise age and cognate experience for employment purposes, in the nearest future, enabling legislations would be enshrined in our statute books leading to the realisation of the aspirations of young Nigerians to make a difference in our polity, and broaden our horizons. This will be a great relief for young Nigerians as the rate of unemployed and underemployed graduates is reported to have risen from 24.4 million to 26.06 million in the second quarter of 2016.

Of importance is the N-Power Teacher Corps designed to engage unemployed youths. Happily, the youths now have a calling, which is to cease to be miscreants, militants, political campaign objects, perverts, thugs and e-rats.

However, a major milestone would be the passage of a bill to drastically reduce the remuneration of elected political office holders so as to discourage dishonest politicians who seek political offices to enrich themselves.

Otherwise, the proposed legislation will not be worth the paper accommodating same, since the current political climate in our fatherland which is in dire need of reforms would be distasteful to any sincere youth having the charisma, the finesse, and the popularity to win in a free and fair election.

Without mincing words, even in this austere season, we must keep our hopes alive and never stop believing that Nigeria will be great again! Happily the Nigerian Senate have suddenly realised the need to have all clogs in the wheels of progress of job seekers expunged with alacrity. Of note, cognate work experience and age limit were rightly identified as barriers for job seekers. However, of importance is ensuring transparency in the employment process and expunging the dichotomy between HND and BSC. Also not forgetting that the minimum wage is due for review! Moreso, one wonders if there are available jobs in the first place for the graduates being churned out by our ivory towers for them to reap the fruit of this gesture. To be frank, there are only few available job openings for fresh graduates, hence the need for youths to be creative, think outside the box and embrace entrepreneurship.

 

  • Ogunjobi, a lawyer, writes from Lagos.