In the face of a heavy, violent raging storms of underdevelopment, poverty and lack, the nation’s political leaders have projected politics and governance as a theory reducing natural selection,that living things develop,survive and die but according to their ability to adapt themselves to there environment.
On Monday the 18th of June, 2017 most major newspapers were agog with the said press conference granted the press by Pastor Tunde Bakare.
The pastor had blamed the current political scenario as an aftermath on the choice of an elderly President. He made comparison with France’s President Emmanuel Macron stressing that it was indicative of a global paradigm shift. Not done, he wondered why Nigeria which once produced a 30 year old leader in the person of Yakubu Gowon would now go for people in their 60s and 70s.
Pastor Tunde Bakare went further to state that the leadership vacuum often allowed the likes of Adonijah and Absalom In biblical mythology who overthrew their father for inordinate ambition, as nature does not allow for vacuum.
Pastor Tunde Bakare enthused that if President Buhari is ‘very healthy’ then there would be no room for the likes of Absolom and Alutoped to exercise their ambition.
The water however sees the press conference as double-speak after all, it was the same Tunde Bakare who volunteered to be a vice-president to this same President in 2011 presidential election . so blaming the current political quagmire (if any) on the choice of an elderly president is totally uncalled for as we know assuredly that this president Buhari has done more than his predecessors going by the socio-political and economic state of the country at the time he assumed office, governance has not stopped .
The government is focused, trying hard to do away with the old order of things that gave room to unprecedented corruption in the nation’s political history. So how has age affected the performance of the president after all, America (the mother of all democracy) has recently elected a man who President Muhammadu Buhari is 3 years older.
It was same Buhari before Bakare, that globed trotted countries in his first year simply to re-write his country’s battered image tha Nigeria and Nigerian’s were treated as epileptic people.
Today it is paying off. Think for example, Morocco’s bilateral agreement with Nigeria on fertilizer importation which will lead Nigeria to be its greatest exporter in the West Africa sub region many more benefits abound. Today, Nigeria is test running on how to export yams to the US and UK. This is a product of a 74 year old man’s vision when he took up the gauntlet to diversify the economy as a promise of his electioneering campaign promise.
Secondly, the analogy of Pastor Tunde Bakare of Absalom and alutophel which the preacher say can be avoided if ‘the president is very healthy and able to discharge his duties’ I dare say, there is no vacuum, there is no guarantee that any president is immune to sickness. So the adjective ‘very healty’ as Bakare was quoted in punch’s Newspaper on page 12 as the only condition to avoid the uprising of Absalom and Alutopel (the military) is in bad taste.
In any case, there is no vacuum; the president has transmitted powers to his vice, now Nigeria’s acting President, so no vacuum at all.
We thought the military has laid to rest the controversy of possible military takeover where they all re-affirmed their total loyalty to the C IN C.
Finally, the writer would like to observe that President Muhammadu Buhari from the days of his electioneering campaigns moving from one state to another up till now has not shown himself as a weak feeble president, Hence a quiet and peaceful nation except for the recent clamor by some ethnic bigots for the succession of the country.
All Nigerians hands must be on deck as we ask for Pasto Tunde Bakare to pray for Buhari as says in the bible so that there indeed will be a new Nigeria where issues of inequality and injustice will all be redressed for a greater Nigeria.
Lady Aite- Ehiemua is a public affairs analyst
When two elephants are fighting, is it not the grass that suffers the most? Undoubtedly, same applies to the struggle when you attempt to start a car without a battery. It is the key starter that suffers instead. Therefore, It certainly won’t work.
‘’Change has come’’ change is certain’’ Buhari, the ‘’chosen one and people’s choice had arrived after conceding three defeats (2003, 2007, 2011<). These were the common most used phrase by Nigerians when Buhari emerged as Nigeria’s democratic president for the first time in history. My question is; Can Buhari solely restore integrity and fight corruption to its maximum? Many would say yes, but he is yet to prove that anyway!
Gone were the days I stupidly use my own free time to criticize and disregards Buhari’s potentials and abilities to wipe out corruption, also in avoidance of all sorts of mediocre governance in the Nigerian system. Not only that, it happens to be at a time my friend’s father calmly shares those benjamins with whomever he gets to meet, and whenever you pay him a visit. Laughs in ajekunyi ya nuje, I was just being sarcastic there perhaps, does that rather still tells you I am still stupid enough to judge and conclude because of my personal interest? Well, that is my own cup of tea and for the critics of fighting corruption as a top agenda of his government, it remains undefeated and Nigerians need answers! This is even more infuriating walking around knowing you elected thieves to serve you.
It is halfway of the Buhari led administration and I ask myself; what have we achieved? Time is ticking and general elections are fast approaching; interestingly, it happens to be at a time Nigerians wake up to a sick commander in chief. ‘’Nigerians are so inpatient and desperate for change which cannot come overnight’’ referencing from a friend I usually discuss politics, and the state the Nigerian economy with. So I ask him; Is it too much to ask for at least 12 hours of electricity a day when Fashola, the Minister of darkness distribution promised 10,000 megawatts before the year 2020? I still can’t hear him responding to that.
One would rather have me killed or detained for speaking out the truth, but I assure you the Nigerian mentality in me is highly intensive, outrageous, and ready to battle pundits. More often, being a Nigerian is a blessing and peccable to be precise. Who else goes with the stealing is not corruption ideology of former president Goodluck Jonathan? I guess I’m alone in this but never mind, I just seem to realize Nigerians misunderstood the metaphor. Anyways, corruption and the lack of being disciplined tends to be confidentially the major setbacks that reduces the productivity level, and potentials of Nigeria to attain sustainable and economic advancement in recent times. Despite all, Greatness seems to be a process and so I ask my audience; do we revise our lecture notes after finals? If you go for a no, then so does discipline comes before corruption in the journey to achieve greatness. Will Mr Jonathan ever make sense to the average Nigerian anyways?
Discipline and the non-practice of judicial acts needs absolute attention in hard times such as this. Being more productive and confident is needed. Do you feel a thing inside you for missing out three consecutive Jumm’at prayers when you hardly pray five times a day? thus, I guess Mr Solomon Dalong is somewhere reviving his faith and confidence for Nigeria to triumph ahead of upcoming National sporting events hence, I would be rather be glad if someone volunteers to remind Mrs Kemi Adeosun that 16+6 is not 24? Asking for a friend. Are you also sick and allergic to these unfamiliar words our so called representatives use? If yes, then you wouldn’t be mad at me if I open up to Mr Lie Mohammed that made it clear to Nigerians that the prescribed drugs and medications Mr President uses are made in Nigeria. Sadly, this is how I go about informing the society that the UK is Nigeria’s second home. Imagine a government that allocated 3.87bn to the state house clinic of recently, but remains fully committed to medical vacation trips? Imagine appointing a retired army man as custom CG when you totally have the mandate and autonomy to make him a sole administrator so he doesn’t get to appear in uniform before the Senate? Imagine diverting the IDP resuscitation funds when these innocent lives have been raped, starved, displaced from their homes? So I ask myself; Faruk, do you even deserve this country? It’s a yes because I come from a part of Nigeria that experienced many of these terrorists’ attacks by insurgents and can be easily denied Visa to even step out of my fatherland. Nevertheless, we sincerely thank the president for the professionalism, and expertizing he has shown in ensuring national security. Although you may doubt my point of view and not feel wrong, history might a little bit favour Buhari’s cabal and supporters for his passion, agenda, to bring everlasting solutions to the problems in Nigeria but I bet you, it certainly won’t remember him for his many inactions! More so, this governing mentality our leaders tend to develop nowadays alone gives me Goosebumps and zero tolerance to support a leader that feels comfortable implementing such mainstream ideas. Anyways, Nigerians chose it to be that way though! Sai Mai Gaskiya!
Guess what’s Nigeria’s biggest problem? The national assembly is where all these conflicts of interest occurs. Imagine diverting the government water project to your farm and stand not humiliated talk less of answering questions for such illegal acts? Honourable Jibrin, the greatest Nigerian whistle-blower of all time can relate to that. Imagine a third national citizen making false assets declarations and getting away freely because power of leadership? Unless these sets of thieves are brought to justice, the average Nigerian shall continue to suffer and keep dreaming of a Nigeria we might not get to see/witness. Mr President! The days of what have achieved is around the corner and we are all on board to either find you a way for a second term or make a transit from London to Daura with Love.
May Allah grant you good health and energy to deliver your campaign promises even though I’m yet to receive the 5000 naira you promised back in 2015. May god re unite Nigerians irrespective of our tribes, religion, ethnicity, and cultural diversity so the likes of Namdi Kanu and co would be left with only animals to fight in the Biafran republic.
There is always hope for a tree that is cut down as long as the roots are in the right places.
Umar Faruk Abubakar
From Oxford Street to Shepherd’s Bush in London, Souk al Baddu to Khan al Atareen in Saudi Arabia, naira was conveniently spent in the 70s and early 80s as it was a convertible international trading currency in many countries.
While the naira was hovering high over the dollar and riyals in the bygone years, the currency is today hardly recognized in Maradi or Agadez market in Niger Republic. Even within Nigeria, perhaps because of the level of worthlessness of our lower denominations, N1 coin, N5 and N10 notes are slowly becoming endangered species.
There have been hues and cries since the announcement of this year’s Hajj package for 21 State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Boards, FCT and the Armed Forces by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON).
While stakeholders explained that about 98 per cent of Hajj services rendered by NAHCON in Saudi Arabia are determined in US dollars, those oblivious to the reality that exchange rate is everything to unproductive economy like ours raised questions.
When we were lamenting the free fall of naira sometime last year, some Nigerians quickly began catcalling in this queer rhetorical device: Da tashin bam gara tashin dala (Rise of dollar is better than rise in bomb attacks). Isn’t weak economy concomitant with rise in vices and prices?
Intending pilgrims are rightly complaining as they have to augment their deposits to be able to go. But why should Nigerian pilgrims pay more when pilgrims in other countries pay less?
Criticism upon criticism, explanation upon explanation, no one seems to explain this year’s increase in Hajj package than the chairman of Med-View Airline, Alhaji Muneer Bankole. This stakeholder, who has been in the system for over 30 years, succinctly cited issues that led to this year’s increase in Hajj package.
Alhaji Bankole said the rate of exchange is principally the major cause of this increase. He also explained that airlift of Hajj pilgrims is done on a charter not schedule basis. According to him, when an aircraft carried pilgrims from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia, it carries no single passenger on its return leg. And when the airlift is completed, the aircraft are not allowed to remain in the kingdom, in which case they have to return empty and go back again empty to start airlifting pilgrims back home.
And again, on each trip, airlines have to pay $6,000 charges for flying over Chad and Sudan to Saudi Arabia.
While others wondered why pilgrims from countries like Pakistan pay less than Nigerian pilgrims, an official quipped that Pakistan enjoys some overfly waivers from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries. Again, why do international pilgrims pay less than the regular pilgrims? The explanation given sounds cogent to me: While the former spend 17 days, the latter spend 40 days and enjoy certain privileges.
Last year, when the exchange rate was officially 197 to $1, the pilgrims paid less – but government had to cough out N68billion to subsidize pilgrimage.
In this year’s budget, the exchange rate is pegged at N305 to $1. So when you multiply it by $4,805, which is the total cost per pilgrim, you will arrive about N1.5 million.
But what a lot of people are unaware of is that the federal government is, in a way, subsidizing this year’s hajj. A top government official told me last week that on each pilgrim, Nigerian government will have to pay N302,4000 to make up for the prevailing dollar rate. If you multiply this amount by 75,000 pilgrims, you will arrive at over N22billion.
Nigeria is in recession. Workers are unpaid. There is hunger in the land. Poverty is everywhere. It makes no economic sense to ignore these maladies and subsidize pilgrimage. I believe the reward of feeding the hungry citizens is higher than subsiding the Hajj.
It baffles me how a government that cannot subsidize fuel, garri and rice for the common man will go about subsidizing Hajj for the rich; and even more baffling is to see a person struggling to put food on the table supporting subsidy for the Hajj.
In his commentary of Quran 3:97, which says “And, pilgrimage to the House is duty on mankind to Allah for those who can find a way there”, Bilal Philips wrote:
“Similar statements of the Prophet (peace be upon him) define ability as being sufficient provisions and transportation. Hence, a Muslim has to be economically able to make the trip. If he has to borrow the money to make the journey, Hajj is not compulsory on him…”
It is a common scene in Kwara to see residents hurriedly dump refuse in drainages during heavy rainfall, sewage is also seen to flow out of broken chambers in densely populated areas across the state. Quite a number of houses are still without toilet facilities in the metropolis, as such open defecation remains the available option.
An epidemic is the spontaneous spread of infectious disease to a large number of people in a given population within a short period of time, usually two weeks or less. It is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time.
Cholera is a water-borne disease that emerges from a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. Once someone contracts the disease, s/he can experience symptoms ranging from extreme dehydration to diarrhea, to vomiting.
Poor sewage treatment and lack of treatment of drinking water, a trademark challenge in most Nigerian states greatly facilitates the spread of cholera.
In August 2010: Cholera in Nigeria reached epidemic proportions after widespread confirmation of the disease outbreaks in 12 of its 36 states. 6400 cases were reported with 352 reported deaths. The health ministry blamed the outbreak on heavy seasonal rainfall and poor sanitation.
Cholera is not alien to Kwara State, late 2001 there was a similar outbreak, the cholera epidemic claimed at least 40 lives in five days, and another 22-people laid critically ill in hospital. In Moro Local Government Area ofKwara state, seven pupils of primary and post-primary schools were among the victims. All primary and secondary schools in the area were quickly closed indefinitely to avoid further spread of the disease.
Cholera is an acute intestinal infection that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, leading to serious dehydration and can be fatal if not properly treated. However, if an infected person is given the proper fluids as soon as the first symptoms appear, the disease can be completely cured. A mixture of sugar and certain essential salts must be mixed with clean water and be taken in large quantities to replace the body fluid that is lost. If the patient is rehydrated as soon as possible, the death rate is less than one percent.
It is indeed worrisome that despite the simplicity of the cure, hundreds and sometimes thousands of people in Nigeria die every year from this disease. Access to clean water is a basic human necessity that is denied to 61 percent of Nigeria’s population.
From records, available on WHO website on cholera outbreak late in 2001, BodeSaadu, the district headquarters of Moro Local Government Area of Kwara State was worst hit with 124 reported cases and 16 deaths. According to Reuters report, at least 40 deaths were recorded in less than one week, when news of the outbreak of the water-borne disease was first broken on the floor of the Kwara State Assembly on Wednesday, October 24th, 2001, lawmakers were prompted to suspend the day’s session abruptly. It was widely reported that much more afflicted people were in critical condition in the worst-hit towns and villages of Jebba, Warafa, Eleja-Sulu, Ile-Pupa, Ekejo, Lasaki and Ejidongari.
Again in 2011, another cholera outbreak struck Ilorin the state capital. The then Commissioner for Health, Mallam Abdul Kayode Issa, said the situation was under control.
He said that the Rapid Response Team of the Ministry had swung into action since when the case was first reported at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital.
He said the state government had made drugs available at the various Primary Health Care Centre in Ilorin East and West local governments and added that the ministry had put measures in place to prevent its spread precisely from Adabata and Okelele. a densely populated area of the state capital – Ilorin.
Just a few days back, June 2017, another outbreak in Ilorin was reported in the media with deaths numbering 12 in less than 5 days. Again, the government through the Secretary to the State Government,AlhajiIsiaka Gold, during an assessment visit to primary health care centers, cottage hospitals, and the General Hospital, Ilorin was out to say the government had deployed resources to ensure that cholera does not spread in the state. But this time around the people are not taking the blame alone, some people have blamed the outbreak on the heaps of refuse dumps in and around the city waiting to be evacuated by the authorities concerned. This points back to the matter of poor sanitation, lack of access to clean drinking water and the failures of residents to take cognizance of Food Hygiene.
It is worthy of note that street sweepers and scavengers pick waste plastic bottles from waste dumps and sell to merchants at popular markets across the metropolis, who in return sell same to makers of local beverages like Kunu and Zobo drink. Unfortunately, the public who have no idea of the source of plastic bottles used in packaging these beverages get exposed to high risk of contracting Cholera and other food hygiene related diseases.
Sanitation is the means of promoting hygiene through the prevention of human contact with dangers of waste especially sewage, by proper treatment and disposal of the waste, often mixed into wastewater. The resultant dangers may be physical, microbiological or biological agents of disease. The well-being of a Community cannot be separated from its attitude towards its Environment. Indiscriminate disposal of waste, dumping of waste in drainages, unwholesome eating practices, and poor basic personal hygiene are the contributions of the residents to the cholera outbreak in Kwara State, Ilorin in particular.
The belief that government has to do everything for it citizens needs to be quickly eradicated, the environment is our common wealth, everyone is a stakeholder. We are all saddled with responsibilities of protecting our environment, our commitment to these responsibilities is not for the benefit of aliens but for our own common good.
It is of also of note that the Waste disposal infrastructure set in place by the government is grossly overstressed as the population of residents in the state is growing at alarming proportions due to the relative peace experienced over the years. The gap between the amount of waste generated in the metropolis and the amount effectively collected by the social waste operators and the commercial waste collectors is very wide as evident in the indiscriminate disposal of waste on curb sides and internal road network of Ilorin metropolis.
As a popular saying has it that prevention is better than cure, the government and its people need to put a stop to their blame games, everyone has a role to play. As a city develops it is expected that the municipal authorities need to put in place salient measures to handle the proper management of waste generated by residents. Some people have called for the establishment of a Waste Management Authority as is obtainable in other states.Others have argued that it is not about the proliferation of agencies of government but the resolve of the State Ministry of Environment to perform its statutory roles and put enforcement of environmental laws on the front burner. There must be policy reviews and ratification of sanctions commensurate with the effects of disobedience to environmental laws.
According to a Joint News Release by WHO/UNICEF in March 2008, sixty-two per cent of Africans do not have access to an improved sanitation facility — a proper toilet — which separates human waste from human contact, according to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.
In fact, about 2.6 billion people around the world live without access to a toilet at home and thus are vulnerable to a range of health risks one of which is Cholera. Former World Health Organisation Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan once argued that Improved sanitation contributes enormously to human health and well-being. She further ascertained that simple, achievable interventions can reduce the risk of contracting diarrhea disease by a third.
Sanitation is considered as a cornerstone of public health. Poor sanitation, particularly in the context of urbanization, allows for sewage or waste to flow directly into streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands, affecting marine ecosystems, fouling the environment and exposing millions of children and adults alike to communicable diseases.
There cannot be any sustainable victory against epidemics like cholera without the active involvement of the Ministry of Environment alongside eagle-eyed response team from the Ministry of Health. For diseases such as cholera and other sanitation influenced diseases like Lassa fever, prevention is truly cost effective than management and cure.
The number of Social Waste Collectors engaged in waste disposal in Kwara state is too little to achieve much. Many thanks to the commercial waste collectors, the outbreak of other sanitation related diseases would have been of disastrous proportions. In other climes, the government supports private participation in environment-related matters as no effort is too minute, there must be a review of the policies surrounding registration of new entrants into the waste disposal sector of the Ministry of Environment.
The fees charged to register new players in the sector must be affordable enough to attract involvement of private entities, the Regulatory stand of the Ministry of Environment as regards the operation of both social and commercial waste collection operators across the state must be given a boost, erring operators must be sanctioned as a deterrent for laxity. The commercial waste operators should be supported by logistic and equipment loans payable at single unit interest rate, unscrupulous levies collected from waste disposal operators should be discouraged, as the government will only be doing itself and indeed its citizens quite a lot of favour by encouraging more private participation in waste collection and disposal across the state.
Advocacy campaigns shouldn’t be left till an outbreak occurs, it should be part of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health to organize joint advocacy campaigns on public health issues and its preventions, adequate funding must be budgeted for public health interventions as epidemics come unannounced. The environment health officers squad of the Ministry of Environment must be reinfused with the drive to enforce environmental laws, house owners must provide decent toilet facilities, all private and public institutions of education must have decent toilet facilities.
The Kwara State Environmental Protection Agency must ensure relevant industries in the state have and maintain effluent treatment plants and not discharge their waste water into streams and rivers. Sanitation must take a whole new dimension in Kwara State to forestall the reoccurrence of an outbreak of Cholera and other related epidemics. In matters of the environment, everyone has a role to play, Government and Residents alike.
AmusaTemitope Victor is an Environmentalist, Social Entrepreneur and Zero-Waste Advocate. He is the Chief Executive Officer, Vicfold Recyclers- A Recycling Firm based in Ilorin Kwara State Nigeria, which Promotes Incentive Motivated Recycling. (www.vicfoldrecyclers.com). He can be reached on +23408107454031 or email@example.com
Our beloved Borno State – Home of Peace – has many enemies. The more visible ones are those who kill us, destroy our property, make us homeless and strangers in our own home, and continue to threaten our very existence. The more dangerous enemies however, are the enemies within. They live among us. Some occupy high office and instead of using it for our welfare and public good, they are rather destroying us from within. It is well organised and not very visible but the most harmful.
Isa Gusau is the special adviser to Governor Kashim Shettima on media and strategy. He was appointed in February 2012 after a journalism career at Media Trust Limited, the last place he served before this appointment, since then things have never been the same. He kept aside all ethics of journalism, public relations and citizens engagement as the most senior spokesman for the governor and descended into the gutter of mudslinging, name-calling, harassment, intimidation, coercion, and worst of all dividing the peace-loving good people of Borno State. The only ‘crime’ one commits to have this terror unleashed on them by him through means including his several fake social media accounts and hired minions is to ask questions. Which society ever grew or made progress without people asking questions?
His tactics include recruiting promising young men/women (who have been impoverished by the same system) to insult people. He writes essays and rejoinders and gives them to spread on social media. These jobless youth don’t even deserve to be dignified with a decent space to carry out their activities in his estimation, they are ‘housed’ under a tree close to the main entrance to Government House. You see them at there as you go into Government House milling around with their devices. Once in a while peanuts are thrown at them to recharge their data and for personal upkeep as their hopes are perennially kept high for a better tomorrow that never comes. People like Isa Gusau see young people as only being good to be used and dumped, and useful only as sycophants with no future assured.
He himself is very clever, whatever he says and does is never a matter of public record, it’s always off the record. You may search everywhere you won’t ever find anything he said or did, of course apart from the empty press releases he emails to the media. If people don’t like his principal Kashim Shettima, he may not be solely responsible but he made it worse. He recently said that Hausa film actors were brought to Borno on taxpayers’ money on a jamboree to boost our income. How that makes sense is beyond me.
Borno belongs to all of us. We all are stakeholders in our Borno State. The danger with what this enemy within is doing is that in the next 2 years his boss will no longer be the governor, but the hate, bitterness, distrust, and divisions will be with us. At that time we don’t know where his likes will be, maybe they would’ve moved elsewhere to cause more destruction. His minions under the tree will still be jobless, used and dumped. The issues about governance, accountability, transparency, our IDPs, post-insurgency rehabilitation, reconstruction, reunification, reintegration, resettlement, etc will still be with us. It may be difficult for our lives to go back to being normal but we can at least try. What we don’t need is another vuvuzela making things worse for us.
What we need is the truth out there so that we can get the help we desperately need. What we have now is not working, at this pace it may take us another 500 years or more to be where we were before the insurgency. We need to be seen to be accountable with the little we have so that we can get more. Our IDPs have to be treated with dignity like humans. The information management system we the people desperately need in Borno is one that soothes, heals, comforts, unites, and gives hope. Attacking people, threatening them, jailing them for stating facts and asking questions, covering up and manipulating the true situation, and supporting those who do so is being the enemy. We will never be quiet in naming them.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president became the subject of controversy after announcing his intention to run for office in April, 2017; for the third time. The former president had previously run two terms in office. What seems to have being a baffling move to the western world has become a norm in many African countries. Simply put, it’s been the recycling of leaders over the past 5 decades in one political position or the other, and with many of them bidding to manoeuvre the constitution in their favour.
To name a few instances are Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who at age 71 is serving his 4th term in office, after securing a change to the constitution in 2005, and recanting on a statement made in 1986 “the problem of Africa in general, and Uganda in particular, is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power.”, Paul Biya of Cameroun, who came to power in 1982, is thought by most to be hoping to run again in 2018; in 2008 he revisited the constitution to eliminate presidential limits.
Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi in 2015 much to international condemnation ran for election; his third time, in an election that was boycotted by the opposition. Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso was President from 1979 to 1992, after which he was outsted then re-elected in 1997. Nigeria’s sitting president Buhari after coming to power under the military regime in 1987, got re-elected under a democratic setting in 2015. Others include Dos Santos (37yrs), Mugabe (37 yrs), amongst others. The list of African leaders is endless and the practise of recycling cuts across board and political positions across the continent. How this tradition began can be traced back to the era of Africa’s revolutionary leaders.
Revolutionists or Leaders:
The move for emancipation in the 50’s and 60’s had a striking semblance across the African terrain. The sounds of cheers rent the air, alongside the razzmatazz that comes with a celebration; the colourful dancers, the drums, the signings and then the declarations. Africa would never be the same again. Power at the time was not something you begged to have, you simply took it.
The revolutionaries were at the forefront of the African movement and at the time, most of them did a great job too; it was the era of the Sankaras (80’s), the Robert Mugabe’s (80’s), Jammeh’s (90’s). While the objectives were right at the moment, the taste for power seems to have gotten to many, and they have long outlived their relevance. What makes a Nelson Mandela different from several others? He knew when to move on, despite a trillion reasons why he should have stayed put.
This seems the missing ingredient in the leadership question that most African leaders seem to lack. The issue of timing and period often seems ignored in the leadership discussion, and boils down to one fact: A great revolutionist does not necessarily make for a good leader. Timing becomes of a great essence here.
However, while it’s easy to condemn the recycling of leaders on the continent, and the hold on power by the older elite, the question is often begged “where have Africa’s youths been in the continents politics”?
The question of the Youth Demography in the Leadership space:
According to the UN, Africa has the youngest population in the world, with a median age of 19.5 years. Young people in Africa, between the ages of 15 and 35 constitute one-third of Africa’s population, but their influence in the political scene has been majorly from the sidelines.
In 2015, the average age of the ten oldest African leaders was 78.5, compared to 52 years of age for the world’s 10 most developed countries. There seems to be a presence without influence. This has stemmed from an age long distrust of the political terrain.
A lot of young people in the continent associate politics with corrupt politicians who are negligent on promises made, and hence would rather be active within civil societies or observe from the sidelines. A suspicion of the electoral system which fosters unqualified administrations on the people also remains an issue, as well as age limits in some countries, which prevents youths under 35 or 40 from running for office.
In 2016 Afrobarometer in a report titled “Does less engaged mean less empowered?” based on nearly 54 000 interviews in 36 African countries in 2014/2015, found Political engagement to be generally lower among African youth than among their elders‚ particularly in terms of voting, More than half (53%) of African youth report being “very” or “somewhat” interested in public affairs‚ while two-thirds (67%) say they discuss politics with friends or family at least “occasionally”. These were amongst other findings.
Another major issue and perhaps the most damaging is the vast resources needed in running for political positions in most African countries. During the 2015 general elections in Nigeria, Presidential aspirants had to pick up party forms for over 20 million naira How these monies are raised begs another question of how sincerely a fight against corruption can be fought especially when the individuals who fund such elections are often those who have corruption allegations levied against them, and are the money bags of society.
Regardless, the African political terrain has become a dumping ground for mediocrity and one where god-fathers reign supreme. The system is one that is set up to fail in that good intentions and good skills don’t necessarily mean you get in.
The issue of credibility on the part of young people has also been called into question. The outrageous and ridiculous statement is often made about Africa’s youths not being ready to handle the affairs of the continent, by the same individuals who seized power at the same age of those now clamouring for a change in the system.
Perhaps a good way to cut off such argument is citing the late William F Buckley’s support for the Jim Crow laws and Black suffrages. In summary, he believed that blacks weren’t ready. The difference between those whose skin would crawl at that assertion from a century ago and now, is simply that those who make these statements are not foreigners, but the leaders who want to remain in power at all cost. There are also proponents of a different type of “African Democracy” by a group of leaders who have refused to relinquish power.
The reference is often made to the traditional ways of most ancient African kingdoms. While this remains a controversial debate still, the downfall of this argument is in the underdeveloped state of many of these nations. Besides what happens when the said leader kicks the bucket untimely? The arguments are endless.
Getting a seat at the Table;
To get a seat at the table, African youths have to wake up from their slumber, and set the rules in their favour. The very electioneering process has to be reset. A system which puts emphasis in how much you have to offer is set to fail. In most developed climes, there is a bench mark as to how much money you can personally pump into the elections all by yourself. While those rules are written on paper, adherence in this part of the world is rarely followed through. Civic education of the youths who are mostly affected by policies and governance must be put at the front burner.
Africa’s youths must quit seeing themselves as a failed generation, and handicapped, and for once bank on the strength of their numbers. They must also fill the documentation gap that exists between them and governance, but not with sticks and stones, but legitimately!
There is also a strong and pressing need to represent themselves the right way. Many political parties consist of old elites who have been there for ages. The culture of cross carpeting and a lack of ideologies is a consistent trait with many political terrains in the continent.
For many African nations, it has been 6 to 7 decades since cries of freedom from the colonial powers were expressed, with the future looking more like the past. To change all this, Africa’s youths must seize the power legitimately to get a seat on the table of politics and where not given, they must build their table in the hall.
Femi Tunde Okunlola is a Development Broadcast Journalist and Writer from Nigeria, covering Africa, with a focus on Governance, security and Environment. He holds a Masters degree in Peace and Development studies, is an Obama YALI RLC Fellow, and RNTC Netherlands Alumnus. Tweet @iam_fto , E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nigeria has for a long time developed an unenviable reputation as one of the hardest places to do business in the world. The economic implications of a harsh business environment, however, have been mollified for decades by steady revenue from crude oil sales. This false dawn of economic prosperity, therefore, served as insurance against the repercussions of paying lip service to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive by successive administrations.
Bukola Ogunyemi is social commentator based in Lagos. This article was syndicated by AfricanLiberty.org