THE HURDLES NIGERIAN YOUTHS MUST CROSS BY 2019

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PEDULUM By Dele Momodu, Email: dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com

PENDULUM

BY DELE MOMODU

Fellow Nigerians, please, permit me to enlarge this subject as much as possible. Nothing is more crucial than getting the leadership of Nigeria right, as quickly as possible. Many have asked me certain questions, after reading my recent articles, which I intend to answer, in this epistle to my fellow citizens.

Why did I support Muhammadu Buhari to be President in 2015? The answer is simple and straight forward. The then President, Goodluck Jonathan and his party, PDP, did not leave us much options and it seemed there was only one logical and rational way to go, no matter how unpalatable, Buhari and his APC. They seemed the only risk and gamble worth taking. Profligacy was at its highest. Corruption was rife. Insecurity was widespread, the economy was in shambles, the currency was in freefall and the malaise and rot was just all pervading. Buhari was himself attractive, not only because of his famed incorruptible stance but also as a stopgap, if only to arrest the deepening sense of gloom and doom in the polity. Buhari became an interlude. We needed a father-figure to rescue us from a rampaging foe. APC was not my party. Like me, majority of those who supported Buhari did so out of acute frustration. And, as with me, they did not belong to his party. They were encouraged by Buhari’s no-nonsense pedigree. Even if they did not consider him perfect, they believed he would be more disciplined, prudent and focused. The only thing we probably forgot was the fact that Buhari would never possess in a democratic setting the same powers he wielded as a dictatorial Head of State. We did not consider how encumbered he would be in his second coming.

Buhari himself possibly underrated the magnitude of the rot at hand. He must have also ignored the avuncular influence of the ubiquitous Nigerian Mafia. He came and took his time on even the most mundane of things. This was his most fatal error. Picking his cabinet took forever. He did not seize on the huge popularity and excitement that catapulted and heralded him to power. He lost the uncommon opportunity to exploit that momentous zeal and giddiness that had engulfed Nigerians at the announcement of his victory. Some of us smelt the danger early and expressed our feeling earnestly and concretely. I wrote copiously about it in my desperate memos to the President. We were the ears of the government as itinerant journalists and our own ears were full from endless lamentations by the public. As if to make matters worse, the President had to battle for his personal life. He was outside Nigeria more than inside, this year, in particular. But we thank God for the miracle He has performed in the health of our dear President who is now back home with us and hopefully invigorated to embark on the arduous task ahead given the short period of time he has remaining in this his first term.

Do I have regrets supporting Buhari? If the truth must be told, there have been periods I felt lost in the wilderness because of the pace, tempo and direction of governance. I was deeply troubled also by the manner a government of change carried on as if our situation was normal and tolerable. The methods and methodology of this government appeared to be too similar to that of its predecessors. I found that bizarre. The amount of time, energy and resources wasted in fighting a war of attrition within the ruling party itself was rather atrocious, as if repeating the mistakes of Jonathan in the last days. But I won’t say I’ve totally given up on our government.

There have been flashes of hope every now and then. It was good and refreshing that the President made use of one of his best weapons in-house, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, while he was away on medical vacation. Osinbajo was able to demonstrate to all and sundry that what is required to get Nigeria out of the doldrums is no rocket science but the ability to play less politics and do more of governing. His persona and abilities galvanised the economy. That we have “exited” the recession is in no small measure due to the policies and practices that he has put in place.  His use of executive orders, rather than subsidiary legislation which can sometimes be cumbersome to pass and implement, was novel and, its significant practical effect is reverberating all over the economy. When the unity of Nigeria was tried and tested by some ethnic jingoists, the government did not rush to war but chose to dialogue with various groups like former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did with the Niger Delta militants. The result is the relative peace and calmness we enjoy today. Another remarkable example of what is possible and feasible in our country is how Osinbajo has been able to crisscross Nigeria without any fear of reprisals wherever he visited. This has shown that the Buhari government has more to gain by reaching out to everyone with an olive branch rather than behaving like warmongers. War has never resolved anything but rather torn peoples apart and made secret and silent enemies who would be awakened and galvanised to destructive action when the time comes!

Will I support Buhari in 2019? Let me say I doubt. My reason won’t be on account of incompetence but because I don’t think it would be fair for men of that generation to continue to hold Nigeria by the jugular. What those who refer to Donald Trump’s age and that of his arch-rival, Hillary Clinton, fail to realise is that those candidates were groomed in a much sophisticated environment. Trump was able to build a business conglomerate while Clinton has had a spectacular and effervescent career in politics and leadership. Those would definitely count in their favour. The same cannot be said of our aged leaders here. Also important is the fact that America would always pick leaders based on merit and towering achievements but our old brigade would always revert back to antiquated and primordial religious and ethnic sentiments. Nigeria needs to move hurriedly from its present style and stereotypes that have held us down and sometimes even dragged us backward. We must seek and find agile, current and stylish leaders who understand the language and register of modern trends. There is no way anyone above the retirement age can fit that bill in 2019 no matter how hard. I say this with every sense of responsibility and not as a matter of personal prejudice. As I will continue to say, I admire President Buhari and believe that he had a monumental role to play in the emergence and continued existence of our nascent democracy.

I know some would say age does not matter but I wish to insist that it does. If we can experiment with old age, and we have for far too long and unreasonably, with no commendable or commensurate results, there is no reason not to conversely encourage the young ones to come in, learn on the job, make mistakes and ultimately get things right. Indeed the same old brigade benefitted from this approach and opportunity given to them by their predecessors who were willing to hand over because modernity in that period had begun to make them relics. The position is more stark now because the advent of the internet and the satellite technologies and innovations that it has spawned has completely transformed the world. Our geriatric leaders would never have a clue about this new world that has left them way far behind. It is not just about social media as they seem to think. There is a lot more in terms of advancement in education, finance, power, health, infrastructure, philosophy, ideology and the like. This propensity by our leaders of yore to embrace youth, entrust leadership to them and adopt the new technologies are basic principles that we must try to enforce in the next dispensation. There is no longer a doubt as to what to expect in the older leaders but there is still a chance of remoulding the younger ones.

My sermon is simple. Anyone above 65 should please enjoy his retirement with his family in tranquillity and perpetuity. At that age, he has already given his best to Nigeria. If his generation was so wonderful, Nigeria would not have been in this peculiar mess. It is time for others to try. If they fail, age will soon catch up with them too, like it is already catching up with my generation, and those coming behind would have to take their own chance and opportunity. By fielding people in their seventies, Nigeria would have wiped out a minimum of 30 years of those between the ages of 40 and 70 and this is grossly unfair and very unfortunate. What that means is that the older generation is saying that there is no Nigerian from age 40 to 70 that can lead us. That notion is unacceptable and regrettable.

Let’s now get down to brass tacks. There is nothing, Constitutionally, stopping those in their 70s and 80s aspiring to public office. Indeed it is their right to do so if they so wish. And if Nigerians, in our collective wisdom or stupidity, select and support them again, then that is their luck. Those who share my view that a new generation of leaders must emerge and be tested urgently have much harder work to do than those who wish to maintain the status quo. As I confidently expressed last week, the youths I see today want everything in a hurry and, if possible, without suffering for it. But there can be no gain without pain. The mind-set of entitlement must give way to that of selflessness and sacrifice. The authentic change-agents cannot sit with arms akimbo and await miracles. If our youths continue with the current attitude, the ancient generation will continue to lead and misrule while the modern youths will continue to wallow in servitude, self-pity and lamentations.

It is a shame that the vibrant students’ union organisations we used to know have disappeared to all intents and purposes. The quality of Nigerian schools and educational curriculum has also dropped abysmally. What has further compounded the situation is the mass poverty which has impoverished the souls and minds of our nation and its people. The situation is so bad that we are mostly controlled by survival instincts. But we must not give up. No matter how much we think we can all “make it” (to borrow that cliché) individually, the road will still be long and tortuous. It is in our collective will and tenacity that we can achieve the Nigeria of our dreams. The older generations would always tempt us with the whiff of money but this would be tantamount to nothing but tokenism and folly given that, in any event, much of that money is from our common wealth looted from our collective treasury that should have been used to transform our lives more than a few pieces of silver can.

Nigerians, young and old, deserve better than this cycle of oppressive benevolence. Nigeria will never know progress until we vow to seize the bull by the horns and do the needful. The journey is not going to be easy. The roads will be littered with thorns. The falcon may not even hear the falconer but try we must. The statement must be boldly made that we are children of a new generation and we know who we are, where we are going and how to get there. It is our future and not their future. They cannot tell us how to live it!.

It is time for our youths to say “Yes, we can”.

  • gohen

    Stupidity is when you keep blaming others for your failures. So it was just to get rid of Jonathan that made you to support Buhari in 2015, Dele if your child gives this kind of excuse, won’t you dis- father him

  • MDG2020

    Dele’s case is hopeless.
    Unfortunately, we do not have mental health institution we can refer Dele to in Nigeria.
    My recommendation to Dele’s family is to fly him out to either U.K, US or Canada, where professionals can attend to his sorry mental state.
    At the rate he is going, he might start dancing kokoma in the open before 2019.
    As for all the analysis given by Dele against PDP and GEJ: I have just one wish for him and his likes! If all indices for measuring goodly living in Nigeria, shows that Nigerians are fairing better nw, than the pre-buhari era, then may it go well with them. But if the situation is now, worse and HOPELESSLY GARNISHED with ENDLESS EXCUSES and LAI’S (see me self, can;t even remember the correct spelling of lies agan), May their life continue to wobble like buhari’s health and NAIRA, Amen!

  • E.Udah

    Dele, just come out clean and direct with an apology to Nigerians for the mess you helped bring Nigeria into. You would not say that you were not warned.
    You’re lucky not to be completely resident in Nigeria like most of my neighbours who were all staunch Buhari supporters. They have all been grounded!
    They’ve all lost their jobs. Their vehicles either rusting away or out rightly sold for economic reasons.
    They’re no longer shouting “sai baba”

  • RumuPHC

    Epistles by Dele Momodu.

    I suppose we have since passed the stage of explaining why GEJ had to go, and even beyond the position of why PMB will have to go. Where we are right now is where are we going: how are we to move the country forward and with whom?

    Power is never given. It is only taken by the most prepared be it the elderly or youthful. Sermons will naturally not count when we assess preparations. It is the practical steps taken by groups desirous of the presidency come 2019 that will matter the most.

    The last time I looked , it is the group currently occupying Aso Rock that is best prepared. It is quite unfortunate but this is the truth. This however is not an indication of success, for 17 months is like a millennium in politics- things could possibly change.

    Though it appears there are some murmurings and sort of uncanny silence from some normally loud quarters , the APC seem to reside only in Aso Rock . Therefore decisions for 2019 will come out from the presidency unless perhaps an “earthquake ” or successful rebellion.

    In a different tack but to the advantage of the presidency, the main opposition party who should naturally give the ruling party a run for its cash is apparently in complete disarray. Many reasons abound for this including failure to play good opposition when the situation demanded on occasion of absence of the president to intractable quarrels in the party. It’s so difficult to absolve Aso Rock or northern interest groups from this calamity. The sudden collapse of Ojo Maduekwe ‘s ” largest part in Africa ” leaves any concerned observer in utter bewilderment.

    It is needless talking about the youths when it comes to national leadership. The youths are not adequately represented in the top echelon of any political party in Nigeria where decisions are made. It is unlikely that kingmakers will voluntarily retire themselves by nominating a son as president. What will they do afterwards?

    Youths will necessarily need to fight for power- literally or physical, or both.

    Without internal or external opposition, PMB could possibly remain in Aso Rock if he opts to contest in 2019. This however is if ” all things remain equal”.

  • John Paul

    In 2019, Nigerians must not be focused on primordial considerations – age, gender or tribe – we must focus on the process. We must insist on a process that will illuminate the content of the character of the contesting candidates before we vote

    The fact that a person is young, by age does not mean that their mind or ideas are young. It also does not mean that they are competent and not corrupt. We all remember our experiences with “young” leaders like GEJ, Mrs Madueke, Orji Uzor Kalu, T.A Orji, Sani Abacha, etc

    What we need in 2019 is a system – open debates among all major candidates – that will reveal to us the content of the character of the people vying for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

    June 12 is instructive
    Several months before the June 12th elections, many Nigerians had decided that they were going to vote for parochial reasons. A majority of Northerners had made up their minds that they were going to vote for Tofa because he was Hausa.

    Igbo had made up their minds that they were going to vote for Tofa because his running mate, Sylvester Ugo, was Igbo and because many of the Civilian Governors of the third Republic were members of the NRC. Tofa’s party.

    And a majority of women had made up their minds that they were going to vote for Tofa –
    the NRC candidate – because, in their opinion, he was more eloquent and better looking than Abiola

    “Out of the the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” – Luke 6:45

    After watching the Presidential debate between Abiola and Tofa, Nigerians gained an insight into the hearts of Abiola and Tofa because they spoke for over one hour. While Tofa was addressing issues like a youth corper who was reading from a handout, Abiola was speaking from a depth of experience that held many people spell bound

    Many people went to bed on the night of that historic debate and introspected. Northerners asked themselves, why am I thinking this way. Why must I vote for Tofa because he is Hausa. Igbo asked themselves, does it even matter that Sylvester Ugo – an Igbo – is Tofa’s running mate. And women: so what, that Tofa is more eloquent than Abiola. Is it eloquence that we are going to eat. The man sounds shallow, despite the fact that he is eloquent.

    This introspection continued for many, even just before the moment that they cast their votes. And with their votes, Nigerians regained their humanity. Nigerians voted logically and not on parochial lines or for ephemeral reasons:
    ———————————————————————-
    JUNE 12 ELECTION RESULT (1993)
    Won [✓] Lost [X]
    …………………ABIOLA/TOFA …………………..
    Abia …………….X ✓
    Akwa Ibom……✓ X
    Anambra…….. ✓ X
    Cross River…. ✓ X
    Delta…………….✓ X
    Edo……………..✓ X
    Enugu………….X ✓
    Imo……………..X ✓
    Rivers…………..X ✓
    Lagos………….✓ X
    Ogun…………..✓ X
    Ondo…………..✓ X
    Osun…………..✓ X
    Oyo…………….✓ X
    Jigawa………..✓ X
    Kaduna……….✓ X
    Kano…………..✓ X
    Katsina……….X ✓
    Kebbi………….X ✓
    Sokoto………..X ✓
    Adamawa……X ✓
    Bauchi………..X ✓
    Borno………….✓ X
    Taraba………..✓ X
    Yobe…………..✓ X
    Benue………..✓ X
    Kogi …………..X ✓
    Kwara…………✓ X
    Niger………….X ✓
    Plateau……….✓ X
    FCT……………✓ X
    ———————————————————————————-
    Abiola also won 41% of the votes in Abia State, 44% of the votes in Imo State, 48% of the votes in Enugu State and even defeated Tofa in Tofa’s Home State – Kano State
    In 2019, Nigeria needs to reignite the spirit of June 12. We do not need a coronation. We need an election where all candidates debate each other, thoroughly, before the votes are cast

  • Wikileaks

    Uncle Dee, the youths are already taking over the reigns of power. The children of the “cabal” that has been ruling Nigeria since 1960 are already taking over. The Senate President is an example of the youths who are taking over.

    Youths from humble background are either used as political thugs or given posts such as Special Adviser or Special Assistant. The rest are not interested in politics. The want to be musicians, comedians, nollywood actors and actresses etc.

    • Dele Babalola

      BOB Dee – well said. It is not an easy task to express yourself as transparently as you have done. We belong to the same generation- guys in their 50’s. I believe we should not be another wasted generation. Sekoni, the’mad engineer’, in Kongi’s ‘The Interpreters’, aptly describes the metaphor of the wasted generation. The challenge for our generation is to show-case the talents we have and vote them into power – more of the right peg in the right hole . Who is best as President, Minister of Works, Telecoms, Energy and Power, Health, Education, name it ? We should search far and wide, promote ,them, market them, tap the diaspora and our home base. We must reach the grassroots and educate people (Re-read the revolutionary Ngugi’s ” Petals of Blood” and ” A Grain of Weath:”. Yes, emphatically yes, our generation, well-positioned , show-cased and marketed can create an el dorado from our present stunted situation as a nation. This is my take. Let us take up the gauntlet and the challenge.

    • Akeem

      Hi Uncle Dee,the youths to me seems not ready to make any difference from what our elders are doing presently.Infact I even believe in capacity of elders to perform better than the so called youths you are clamouring for.Dino Melaye is a youth can you tell me his impact as a senator.I can not imagine what he will be doing as a Governor if given a chance.I want you to look well into the monachy or Kingship could you assess what is happening in Ife and Iwo right now .These are very young Obas because I know you want to keep mute about this issues because your place of birth is involved.I don’t care about age if you are capable of making a geniue difference in the lives of people.

  • Cheta God

    It is a shame that Buhari with all his baggage was elected president in place of other better qualified APC candidates. See the mess we are in because we hated GEJ and we wanted to spite the other ethnic groups. Even the so called war against corruption is a mess. Shame to APC and the Jagaban

  • KWOY

    1. 2 yrs after d Yoruba is still battling morally to justify their 2015 actions & electoral choice (if u hav no moral issues wit ur actions & choice, u’ll not still be pre-occupied wit it 2 yrs after!). & who expects u to tell d truth, for d only justification of ur action will be how Jonathan was bad?

    2. What has changed just btw a few weeks back when Buhari was ‘Baba’ & ‘daddy’ who was doing d Job of Jesus Christ & Muhammed put together & now? The answer was bcos d cowardly Yoruba race had tried unsuccessfully a whole lot of tricks & strategies to buy cheap favour from the north by setting the Igbo against it as the bad party (wit a view to cheaply lure Buhari away & leave d office to Osinbajo!). But some of us noticed your wicked & cowardly strategy & took up ur argument of “NO POWER VACUUM” against u! That left u wit no choice than to come now more direct!

    3. Well, whether u know it or not, d challenge before d Yoruba in order to escape an eternal shame is to (a) ensure dat an incapacitated Buhari does not acquire a 2nd term; (b) Dat even if he is stepping aside, he will not substitute Osinbajo. Media propaganda in favour of Osinbajo as it was for OBJ & Awolowo will not do!

  • FrNinja

    Age is a number. The youthful president Goodluck Jonathan watched his youthful Petroleum Minister perpetuate large scale theft with other youth like Kola Aluko. His youthful Vice President thought it best to build a white elephant 850 million dollar Kaduna – Abuja railway to carry 1,000 passengers per day when the Illorin-Jebba expressway, Enugu-Onitsha expressway carrying over 100,000 per day had collapsed.

    Youth lacking character and knowledge at best can only inspire boundless but ultimately directionless and wasteful enthusiasm like Goodluck and like Akabio and Fayose.

    • KWOY

      The evil u know is the evil u are ‘told.’
      i. OBJ signed away Bakassi & for u it is no evil bcos those on who u depend to know it has not been drumming it;
      ii. OBJ is implicated in d international 419 called SIEMENS SCANDAL but ur gods have not judged it evil;
      iii. OBJ & Atiku sold d nigerian economy to d int’l capitaist forces in d name of privatization but those who hold ur life have not been drumming it;
      iv. D Elumelu committee report called Obasanjo’s corruption in privatization ‘mind-boggling’ but bcos ur knowledge depends on what d SW media tells u, u can’t know further than u do
      v. OBJ wasted $16b on power but…
      vi. TV documentary revealed Tinub’s loots ahead of 2015 but u hve been made to talk abt Deziani
      vi. Fashola drilled borehole with N300m…
      vi. Rotimi Amaechi used Rivers’ Budget to fund Buhari’s campaign d same ways Dasuki & PDP’s offence is campaign funding!
      vii. Deziani mnwhil have not been tried & found guilty!

      • gohen

        Nice to know we still have people with thinking abilities n Nigeria

  • Mayo

    1) Let us assume with you that GEJ was not an option. How then did it become GEJ or Buhari? You contested for the Presidency even though you knew it was a long shot. Why then didn’t you support another long shot candidate and go all out to campaign for that candidate?

    2) You said ‘Insecurity was widespread’. Is the country still not quite insecure? We had Boko Haram under GEJ but people like you did not give government a chance to get the hang of ‘terrorism’ which we were facing for the first time. Somehow you ‘forgot’ that UK took decades to overcome terrorism. At a point, the hotel where the British PM was staying was bombed. When BH kills 1 person, instead of people to allow the country to mourn and provide information to the security agencies to deal with the terrorists, people will come to the media and scream BH kills 100s, further demoralizing the populace. I remember reading your article where you asked GEJ to negotiate with BH at the peak of their murderous rampage.

    Under Buhari, Herdsmen were roaming about killing people and government did nothing. Some youths from the North gave people ultimatum to leave a part of the country. Nothing happened to those guys. The Minister of Interior announces that they couldn’t arrest them because of the security implications i.e. if you arrest them, there will be riots. Pray, isn’t that the highest form of insecurity?

    3) You said the economy was in shambles. How is the economy today? Did we have a recession under GEJ? Were thousands and thousands of people being laid off under GEJ? Did airlines leave the country under GEJ? As at today, ASUU is on strike, NASU is on strike, Doctors are on strike. APC said $1 to N150 was BAD!! Today, what is the exchange rate? What is the cost of food in the market?

    4) You said Buhari took his time on even the most mundane of things. Well, if you had studied the man before voting for him, you would have suspected he would do so. You would have recognized that Buhari is intellectually not curious about things – since he left power has he written op-eds, given talks, proffered solutions to specific ailments of the country? If you had watched his debate in the previous elections, you would have known that Buhari was a one-trick pony (solution to everything is corruption). In fact if you had watched that debate, you would have seen that Buhari had no depth and had actually not thought about the issues deeply.

    5) You say Anyone above 65 should enjoy his retirment. Why didn’t you apply this rule in the last election? In fact since you became disenchanted with GEJ early on, why didn’t you start preaching the sermon for the youth to contest? Didn’t you see the likes of Donald Duke or your friends Fashola, El Rufai (not that I support any of them)?

    • Thompson Iyeye

      Simon Kolawole several months ago similarly told untruths about Jonathan and his administration, in his attempt to justify backing Buhari and his administration. I ended my comment to that Kolawole’s article with a sentence which I will repeat, for this Dele Momodu’s article, viz: Dele Momodu has a right to dislike Jonathan, but he has no right to lie to us.

      • okbaba

        The sins of the generation of momodu will be couched in deceit and hypocrisy worse than what the generation before them unleashed on Nigeria. At least we knew our enemies. In Dele we won’t be able to identify enemies. Let’s keep vigil bro.

    • Arabakpura

      Jonathan was the architect of his failure and that made many people who voted for him the first time to change course! It was a case of the available being desirable! Another season is fast approaching; and perhaps Nigerians will find a new slogan different from “anybody but Jonathan” to perhaps “anybody but a hypocrite” or something of sort! For how long will Nigerians continue to toy with their lives in this manner? I have begun to see reason with the “restructure or rend” group; we can’t obviously continue like this!

    • Darcy

      Seeing pics of OBJ holding fort at Chatham makes me curious. With the benefit of hindsight, what are the thoughts of the forum on “the 3rd term agenda”?

  • Darcy

    *Yawn*

    A lot of ink has been spilled bemoaning why intellectuals and Youth do not win elections. How about assuming the easiest reason, they are simply terrible politicians.

    Until they are rather to gladhand the crowd, to enter their huts, speak to their problems, leave twitter and the backpages, nothing will change. Even aristocrats like Chatam and the Roosevelts played to the crowd, but Nigerian inteleectuals???

    At a certain point, we ought to stop writing about the world, perhaps try to change it.