Leadership is Not Age-related, Says Ibori

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A former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori has faulted the call for power shift from the older to the younger generation, saying that the failure or success of leadership is not necessarily age-related.

Ibori said yesterday that the youth occupy leadership positions in many sectors of the society, including university students’ unions, financial sector, churches, military and the civil service and wondered if the youths fared in these areas or even hold out any hope for the country.

“One problem that appears to have bedevilled Nigeria is the “one solution fits all” and “easy way out” syndrome. We are quick to proffer ill-thought out solutions to all our problems; transfer political power to the youths and all our problems are solved,” he said.

Ibori cited the case of the former President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama, who was elected President at the youthful age of 47 and stressed that Obama did not become President simply because the United States of America decided that the old must give way to the young or whites to blacks.
“No, Obama became president because, at that moment, he was adjudged the best among those who offered themselves for election. He had built up some national gravitas. He had been noted as having something to offer his nation, something great enough to even transcend whatever obstacles that had blocked the way of every black politician before him,” he said.

“When nine years ago Americans voted in a 47-year old Barack Obama as their President, many Nigerians enthused that American politics had embraced youth power. That Obama had attended the best schools in his country, volunteered again and again in providing free services to his communities, and had been involved in politics as early as he could, and the fact that he had been elected into the country’s Senate did not matter in their reasoning. The only thing that registered was that a black person below age 50 was President. Many never bothered to study his trajectory to power. Had they done that, they would have realised that Obama did not become President simply because the United States of America decided that the old must give way to the young or whites to blacks,” Ibori explained.

Ibori pointed out that there was no national consensus before the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi began to defend people for free, adding also that when the late Chief Anthony Eromesele Enahoro was jailed because of his struggle for Nigeria’s independence, he was just 21 years old.

“The Wole Soyinkas, the John Pepper Clarks, and the Chinua Achebes that we celebrate today achieved greatness while they were in their youth. Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart at the age of 28. Ben Enwonwu became a master sculptor in his youth. There was no national consensus that literary greatness should be taken from the old to the young then. And when the Ben Okris and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies took over the mantle of becoming great writers, they begged for no let or leave from the old. They just did what they had to do. They tasked themselves until they achieved greatness,” Ibori added.

Ibori disclosed that the election of a 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron in France might have galvanised a section of Nigerians to think that the youth should take over political power.
According to Ibori, Monsieur Macron did not contest for office solely on the basis of being a “youth”.
Ibori said the French leader ran in a national election based on concrete ideas.

“He ran against popular Eurosceptic and anti-immigration candidates. He believed in something. It was not because someone mobilised the French voters to support a young man. In electing Macron, France voted a left of centre politics. Macron has been in public service for decades. He studied Philosophy at Paris Nanterre University before obtaining a Masters degree in Public Affairs at Sciences Po. He graduated from the École nationale d’administration (ÉNA) in 2004. He worked at the Inspectorate General of Finances, and later became an investment banker at Rothschild & Cie Banque. Before entering politics, he was a senior civil servant and investment banker,” Ibori added.