Ending Gerontocracy in Yorubaland

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Perspective

To save the South-west and indeed Nigeria from an unending spiral, it is time to give the youth the pride of place in politics and leadership, Olukayode Ajulo writes

If Africa’s growth is retarded, Nigeria’s must be stagnated. And if indeed stagnated, the nation’s ascendancy to the sorry pass must mean a culmination of plural particulars. No doubt,
plethora alibis explain the retardation or stagnation as qualifications for the continued and her parts are but apt and warranted as punctuation that portray it.

There are factors that are factual than fiction. The content of corruption that seems imminent with this clime and its branches, ubiquitous yet pervasive ignorance, iniquitous political
culture, penchant and proclivity for cheats and the won’t for easy way out as ruinous alternative to hard work.

Mention is made of political culture. It’s called iniquitous evidently. To begin a narration of the sweeping occurrences to this effect on the African soil is to bore readers with
familiar tales. The unrighteous behaviour in Africa is something to afflict the thoughts of thorough minds, something to award sleepless nights to pure patriots.

As the world educates and initiates young ones as modern species more aggressively attuned to the flexibility of modernity as working antidote to rigid political antiquity which is
largely Africa’s bane, Africa, yes, Nigeria, has ingloriously glued itself to gerontocracy.

The growing interest abound around the world; it becomes palpable, the theme of giving a pride of place to youth participation in politics. Some political groups are changing to respond
to the growing number of young people who want to affect the political system. Political ideologies appealing to youth that were once considered wrong beliefs are becoming main-streamed, and more young people are associating themselves with non-popular political
parties. More young people than ever before are actually becoming engaged in local community campaigns and other political activities. This trend is agreeing with the notion that youths can change the world through politics by becoming actively, meaningfully
and substantially involved through political parties and beyond.

It is necessary to note that it wasn’t particularly bad for Nigeria at the get-go. Early nationalists who fought for, sought and got independence for the nation Nigeria did same in
their youths. Remember Herbert Macaulay, Alhaji Aminu Kano, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Professor Eyo Ita, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alvan Ikoku, Dennis Osadebay, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Egbert Udo Udoma, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Joseph Tarka, General Murtala Mohammed
and the up and doing General Yakubu Gowon, all called the shots as leaders of the country in their youth, an era Nigerians call golden, years that fanned radical changes and revolutionary ideologies that saw the country out of the woods.

It comes to mind that three of these prominent Nigerians; Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, and Azikiwe, personally participated in negotiations for the independence from Britain, then you can
dearly bemoan the political Egypt to which Nigeria has gladly returned. Today, our state and federal parliaments have become virtual permanent homes for septuagenarians and octogenarians.

These men, having cornered the conduits -the common wealth, and grown muscles on the altar of the famine of the starving citizens, turned themselves to gods. Retrogressively, holding
the country at the jugular, they make aspiration towards finesse, a complete mirage.

In saner climes, these are old citizens who should mentor and model the youths with their mental muscles in leadership
and patriotism, alas, they prefer to die in offices even as the country groan under them.

We must hammer the truism that youth mainstreaming can allow young people to change the world by creating new awareness, opportunities, policies, systems and cultures that foster
youth engagement. In political parties, youth mainstreaming could allow for children and youth to affect democratic representation even in parties that would deny them the right to vote or otherwise become engaged. Whatever age they are, young people can run
for offices anywhere in the world as an act of protest; to make a stand or to draw attention.

In my sojourn across my country, Nigeria, vis-a-vis the age demography of political leaders among the major ethic groups, I dare say there is no denying that the pre-domination of
these gerontocrats in Nigerian political space seems more prevalent among the Yoruba people of the Southwest Nigeria. It would alarm one who is initiated and rich enough of Yoruba culture to the effect that the youth of this tribe has always been its strength
and a central part of its rich history. It is alien to us (the Yorubas) for old men and women to be avaricious, especially with political power and office.

It was not so with the people and culture of the Yoruba at the various chapters and sagas in our history. For instance, it wasn’t so when the late Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, the Awujale
of Ijebuland was enthroned at age 26 in 1960. This exemplary monarch, who has reigned for more than half a century has achieved so much for his domain and the Yoruba land as a constituency.

The other day, a monarch in his youth ascended the throne of his forefathers as the Ooni of Ife and the first Oba on the soil of the Yoruba geographical space. Oba Adeyeye EnitanbOgunwusi
(Ojaja II), the 51 Ooni of Ife, who was enthroned barely over a year ago, has been a toast to great kingship; his reign has been marked by a modern outlook and a number of progressive policies, prince of which is his unification agenda and transformation moves
since he ascended the throne. He continues to initiate and coordinate lofty activities to advance the interest of his clan, the country and the black race around the world.

That is what one gets when muscles and mental might is present in leaders or representatives. In order to become engaged in politics in the most effective ways, young people should
be encouraged to learn about political ideologies, political actions, political issues and other realities within and around the political system. They should be involved to change the trend of a daily failing country and continent.
Nigerian youths should be positioned across the various constituent ethic identities for leadership. We need more
of Ogunwusis and Adetonas. Yoruba land needs not continue to waste the worth of her youth if it must prosper.

If Yoruba must regain and retain its pride of place, if Nigeria must triumph over its today’s woes and travel beyond the socio-economic boundaries that fetters it, such as those given
above, we must begin to prevail on citizens to start to discourage fielding grandparents for political offices. It is anti-clockwise to the emerging new world.
Our youth should be learned in communication, problem-solving, change management and conflict resolution skills
and participate in knowledge-sharing activities designed to build their capacity. That way, we’ll be better positioned to take on the world.

Dr. Ajulo, is the Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo and Co. Castle of Law, Nigeria and was National Secretary, Labour Party

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As the world educates and initiates her young ones as modern species more aggressively attuned to the flexibility of modernity as working antidote to rigid political antiquity which is largely Africa’s bane, Africa, yes, Nigeria, has ingloriously glued itself to gerontocracy