By Erasmus Ikhide
The Nigerian youths last week Thursday clapped for themselves when President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the “Not Too Young To Run bill” earlier passed by the national assembly. The ululation that attended the piece of legislation flashily evaporated the way it came from the very moment it was born when The President told the youths to wait till 2023.
Mr. Buhari assault on the bill and the Nigerian youths’ rights to govern is premeditated. It’s an age long entrenched agenda that incapacitates the youths via the provision of poor or virtually nonexistent education, hostile environment that criminalizes creativity, joblessness, religious and ethnic manipulation for political gains and the penchant to arrogate divinity to unregenerated old folks who are more problems than solutions to Nigerian self-induced afflictions.
The thorny point is that the “Not Too Young To Run” piece of legislation is a mere facade that masks away the fundamental issues of money politics, godfatherism, development of political institutions, the processes of political parties evolution and the ethos of electoral democracy. The youths inclusive bill into governance process has to be expanded and inconsonant with the civil service regulation which stipulates that once you’re 60-years, and in case of professors in the universities 70-year should be applicable, especially for the sear of the president.
Even at that, Nigerians are still expecting the APC government to address monetization of political and election processes that’s beyond the reach of the youths, the problem godfatherism, the repositioning and democratization of an biased Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), redefine ownership of political parties where Nigerians will make token contributions to develop political parties of their choice, instead of money bags, and the role of the security agencies in a democratic space. These are the core or sour issues at the heart of retrogressive politics in Nigerian.
Again, most of the fundamental issues plaguing the nation polity would have been resolved by now if the ruling APC hasn’t thrown away her manifesto which stipulates that the party under President Buhari would initiate action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit. Nigeria would have been heading out of the woods if the ruling APC truly strengthens INEC to reduce/eliminate electoral malpractices.
Even before the passage of “Not To Young To Run” bill, President Buhari is yet to attract the best and brightest into the nation’s politics and public service by aggressive recruitment of private sector people, academics and professionals within Nigeria and in the Diaspora through internships, fellowships, executive appointments and special nomination to contest elective offices, as he promised at electioneering in 2015.
Nigerians have not seen the fulfilment of Mr. Buhari’s promise to prevent abuse of executive, legislative and public offices through greater accountability, transparency and strict enforcement of anti-corruption laws whilst strengthening the EFCC and ICPC. Neither have we seen the actualisation of his promise to amend the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in criminal cases. This is because the same old politicians who ruined the nation in the past with a lot of stolen money who financed his election in 2015 are the sacred cows.
Three years down the road, the APC government could not restructure government for a leaner, more efficient and adequately compensated public service. When then will Buhari’s administration requires full disclosure in all media outlets of all government contracts over N100m prior to award and during implementation at regular intervals, which he promised?. When will it reform and Strengthen the Justice System for efficient administration and dispensation of justice along with the creation of special courts for accelerated hearing of corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism and similar cases of national importance?
Why is it so difficult to ensure full implementation of the Freedom of Information legislation so that government-held data sets can be requested and used by the media and the public at large, and then published on regular basis? Why is the aged ruling class and recidivists oligarchs keep holding the nation to ransom even when doing the same thing all over again hasn’t yielded a different result?
The truth of the matter is that Nigerian youths do not need a sense of entitlement legislation to be allowed to “Run” for elections in their own country. The “Not Too Young To Run” bill merely emphasizes the dysfunctional structures of the nation’s democratic amalgam and the lopsided economic disparities between the mighty old ruling class and the deliberately pauperised youths by the same obstructing criminal political elites.
If the 31 years old Sebastian Kurz, Chancellor of Austria; Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, 35 years, Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand 37 years, Carlos Alvarado Quesada President of Costa Rica 38 years, Leo Varadkar Taoiseach of Ireland 39 years, Jüri Ratas Prime Minister of Estonia 39 years and Volodymyr Groysman Prime Minister of Ukraine 40 years are Nigerians they would probably have been overwhelmed to the point of striving to provide roads, electricity, security and water for themselves to meet the basic necessities of life as is the case with every average Nigerian.
As we match towards 2019, Nigerian youths must resist any attempt to subject them to continues rape by ancient minds in politics whose interests in politics is to acquire power, wealth and notorious fame at the expense of the very ordinary poor masses. We can’t afford to keep hoping and dreaming that a better Nigeria is achievable while standing faintly aloof.
Erasmus A Public Affairs Analyst writes from Lagos
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