We Don’t Need Youths to Salvage Nigeria

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Writing from Langley Berkshire in the United Kingdom, Ignatius’Nat Muotoh argues that a good number of Nigeria’s leaders have been in power since they were younger

My thanks to Prof Wale Soyinka and others who have asked the same question over and over. Do we need protests by our youths to deserve a better country? The answer to this question is a resounding No. We all know that most of our current leaders started leading us in their youths.

Let’s take a moment and check the respective ages of some of our current leaders, subtracting the last 20 years of our so called democracy from their current ages. The results are quite astonishing indeed.

Being a youth is not a prerequisite for good good governance as the following illustration show.

** Mr. Rotimi Amaechi

Rotimi Amarachi is 55 years old now. He has been a minister in the present Buhari led APC Government for the past five years. That means he became Minister at 48 years old. Prior to becoming a minister, he was the Governor of Rivers State for a whole eight years. Again, that means he became a Governor at the age of 40 years. And again, before becoming a governor at the age of 40 years, he was the Speaker for the River State House of Assembly for eight long years.

That means he was a Speaker and a leader at the young age of 33 years. You wouldn’t call him an elder.

Would you? Now, when you do the Maths for the majority of our political leaders today, they are the same side of of the same coin. Proving yet again that youth has brought us nothing.

**Mr. Babatunde Fashola

He is 57 years. Mr. Fashola was in Governor Tinubu’s cabinet for four years as the Chief of Staff, and later became the Governor of Lagos State for eight years. He is currently, the Federal Minister for Works and Housing; a position he has held for the past five years. This brings it to a total of eighteen years in a leadership position. When you now deduct the 18 years that he’s been in both State and Federal Governments from his current age of fifty-seven (57) years, you’ll see that he was only years old and of course a youth when he got into the leadership position.

** Senator. Bola Tinubu

Mr. Bola Tinubu, who is 68 years, was the Governor of Lagos State over 21 years ago.
Prior to that, he was a Senator for five years. When you deduct twenty-one years from his current age of 68 years, and deduct another five years he sat as a Senator in the Senate, it then means he was only 41 years when he took over leadership. That’s a hair breath from the age of a youth.

*Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike

Mr. Wike is 53 years. He has been in government for the last 20 years. He was first appointed the Minister of State for Education on the 14th July 2011. He first started as the Chief of Staff to Governor Amechi. Following that, he was a Minister before becoming a governor.
This means he was just 33 years old when he became a leader. Again, he was a youth.

*Mr. Dimeji Bankole

Mr. Dimeji Bankole was 37 years as Speaker in the House of Representatives. A leadership position of course.

**Mr. Ahmed Lawan

This gentleman is 61 years, has been in the Federal Legislature since 1999. That was 21 years ago at the age of 40. Another youth in leadership.

**Dr. Olubukola Saraki

He is 57 years. He was elected as the Governor of Kwara State in 2003 and re-elected again in 2007. He served as the governor for eight years before becoming the 13th President of the Senate of Nigeria from 2015 to 2019 and Chair of the 8th Nigeria National Assembly. Again, he was just 41 years of age at the helm of leadership. If he wasn’t a youth then, I don’t know who is the youth.

These few individuals mentioned above were in my definition youths, and have been in leadership position at one time, and yet did absolutely nothing positive for the youths of today. The youths have always been in leadership positions; and so many have been in that positions until they become old. They are the youths that have continually, impoverished the youths and the people of this nation as a whole. They have proved beyond all reasonable doubts, that the problem of Nigeria is not the absence of youths in governance, but as as a result of other factors such as; Corruption, the absence of the Rule of Law, Acts of impunity, and others too many to enumerate.

As I had mentioned earlier on, being a youth is not a prerequisite for good governance.

However, the Rule Of Law in particular is a necessary condition for good governance.

The question now is how do we entrench and uphold the Rule of Law, and at the same time, increase our efforts in fighting corruption. Those are the moral minimum requirements necessary in achieving good governance and a better Nigeria for all. The answer I believe, lies in the collective efforts by all and the youths in particular.

With such in mind, the #EndSARS protesters must include in their demands, the total Rstrestructuring and the Reorganisation of the Nigeria Police Force, starting with but not limiting it to; A total and complete ban on the use of LIlife bullets by the Police in all civil and armless protests.; A total ban on the deployment of the army against civilian protests; A complete ban on the deployment of the police to protect individuals except for the following; the President, the Vice President, the State Governors and Deputy Governors, the Federal High Court Judges and others whose official functions may demand some sort of protection from the people.

Currently the police though established to “Protect and Serve” is not serving the people who it was established in the first instance to serve. For now, the police is not serving the poor.

The Current Trend in Policibg

What we see today is what I call ‘A Cash And Carry Police Force’ where for a payment of cash to the DPO or other superior officers, an individual can be assigned a police officer to provide security service and other ancillary services for an individual. Amounts vary from say N20,000 to N50,000 for two or 3 police officers. There may be an additional daily payment of say N2,000-N5,000 for the personal welfare of the officers assigned to provide security for the individual. Note that the hirer can retain the services of the police officer for as long as he or she requires.

All at the expense of the people who the police is meant to serve and protect in the first place.

It is a common practice as we speak for rich individuals to hire the services of the police from the DPO or other superior officers for personal needs or for various ceremonies such as: Weddings, marriages, engagements, burials, business premises
Escorts and other pleasures etc.

Such is the current situation of the Nigeria Police Force. Therefore, I suggest that the youths must include in their demand, the seizure of this practice in their demands for the total restructure of the police amongst other demands. The use of the police services by individuals and the political class especially, is the ‘oxygen required in keeping the flame of corruption’ and by extension the bloodline that feeds bad governance.

These absurdities and anomaly can easily be fixed by taking certain necessary measures in the restructuring of the police force.

As an example; a public servant or political office holder who has no police assigned to him for his personal protection, will have a second thought before shortchanging those that elected him. He will be conscious of the fact that the people who elected him into office, demand and expect accountability of his stewardship.

It is a fact that a public officer, who has served the people who elected him diligently and honestly is never scared of his safety, and earns the trust and respect of the people.
The people is his security.

A striking case in mind, is that of the one time ex-Governor of Anambra State Dr Chris Ngige imbroglio with Chris Uba and his political gangsters. Encouraged and protected by ex-president Obasanjo’s PDP administration, Chris Uba and his cohorts demanded a monthly subvention from the duly elected governor. The refusal by the Governor to give in to the demands of Uba and his co-passengers, led to an attempt to kidnap the governor in other to force him to give in to their demands.

With tacit support of the Presidency for Chris Uba and his gang, aimed at asserting more pressure on the Governor to give in to their demands, the governor’s constitutionally approved security apparatus (the police and DSS) were withdrawn by the Presidency. Such a measure was designed to force Dr Chris Ngige out of the Government House, thus exposing him to his political enemies.

This unprecedented and unpresidential act, could’ve easily caused the Anambra State Governor his life.

However, following the public perception in Anambra about their ‘hardworking and performing’ Governor, Dr Ngige had the support and sympathy of his citizens and was seen as the best Governor ever to have been elected in Anambra.

Dr. Ngige’s popularity was at an all time high, since he was doing exactly what the people wanted by the provision of good roads and other public utilities which have been denied them by previous administrations through corruption.

At the end of this imbroglio, the Obasanjo administration failed woefully in their bid to remove him as the men and women of Anambra State, volunteered as the governor’s security agents ‘pro Bono’.

The rest is now history.

There’s no doubt that an incorrigible and incorruptible public officer earns the trust, support and the protection of his people. He is not scared of his safety and security. It is correct to say that the ability by a public servant to engage the services of the police, or acquire a personal protection from the police can only encourage a public servant to steal from the people he’s made to serve.

We may not need the youths to change and salvage Nigeria since the youths have always been in power.

What we need is a change of mindset, restructuring of the entire system and the entrenchment of The Rule of Law.