On Macron: Youth/”Yoots” For President, By Jude Feranmi
“History repeats itself first as a tragedy, the second time as a farce”?—?Karl Marx
First and foremost, congratulations to Emmanuel Macron the recently elected Presidential candidate in France who beat his opponent with a landslide. Many have quoted this victory as a win over Fascism and Trumpism, but that is another discussion for another day.
After Macron’s win, there will be so much inspiration to draw from and so many labels and analysis and then a call to action will follow for those who will take the opportunity and replicate the phenomenon in our part of the world. This, as we know by now is the usual pattern.
Emmanuel Macron has again challenged the young Nigerian who is ‘challengeable’, the same way Barack Obama did in 2008. The question we should be asking now is what is going to come out of it?
George Santayana is the one who said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. Isn’t that really why History repeats itself, because majority of us don’t learn from history?
The 1999 Narrative
The Military regime ended in 1999 but competent Nigerians failed to engage the new system to the detriment of all of us
Were there young competent Nigerians who could have taken over the country in 1999 when the Military rulers finally decided to officially go back to the barracks? Yes!
So what happened? Those who were competent enough were so handicapped with their analysis that they refused to show up. It was either arguments about how the military were going to come back after a couple of years or how it wasn’t worth risking their lives for.
It will be 18 years since the return back to civil rule in 21 days time and those who were smart then are still trying, in vain, to get back into that system.
By May 29th of this year, we will have active citizens who will not have witnessed any strain of military rule and will be eligible to vote in our elections. The question of their experience of the quality of democratic rule is another matter entirely. Yet, the intellectuals of the time are still struggling to invade the system and at least test their many theses on what and how good governance can be provided.
The 2017 Narrative.
There’s so much influence everywhere else you look and so little political influence
No matter what the older generation of Nigerians tell you, there is a rising number of young Nigerians blazing the trail when it comes to professional careers and disrupting industries. Against all odds, young Nigerians are still able to raise their heads high and mention scores of young people making things happen in their fields. But the story more or less remain the same.
These young competent influential people are staying away from politics. At this time where the country is almost ripe for a Macron style revolution, most of those who are competent enough are intellectually excusing themselves from contributing their quota to society politically. Most are found in religious houses, entertainment, business and those who are still passionate are found in civil society.
When it comes to anything that disrupts the political status quo, young competent people are busy with other things. So the environment is left for the rest who are either too passionate to not do anything about the country or those who are not as competent and are left with the only option of engaging the system. In any case, we are back to 1999
In 1999, 5 Nigerian Governors were below the age of 40 including 36 year old Ibrahim Turaki. Orji Uzor Kalu was 39, Donald Duke was 38, Chimaroke Nnamani was 39 and Ahmed Yerima (same Yerima) was 39.
Worthy of mention is James Ibori who was 40, Niyi Adebayo who was 41, Lucky Igbinedion (42), Rabiu Kwakwanso (43), Ahmed Makarfi (43), Abdulkadir Kure (43), Joshua Dariye (42) and Attahiru Bafarawa who was 45.
With these figures, you would often find these same young, competent analysts of our time tell you that this means ‘youth’ does not necessarily translate to good governance in defense of their myth that the country is doomed and we should only sit down in our AC tight offices and engage in analysis paralysis.
Meanwhile, the intellectuals of 1999 who were young and vibrant are still trying to get into the political space they refused to join then.
If you take a look at the political space today in 2017, young people are currently engaging the system and just like 1999, majority of these young people are not the kind of people who you would like to engage in an intellectual debate, because they are tied to paymasters and godfathers.
In the end, there will be those who will refuse to give up on the system that will be competent and passionate and will just try to make a mark. In the end, those kinds of people will be invited to speak in events some years later that other young people of that time will attend. We will then start the whole analysis paralysis again and we will still be worse for it.
By that time however, our population will be upwards of half a billion and we will probably be facing drastic decisions of increase in crime and how we want to provide food for half a billion citizens.
As i journeyed for more than 4 hours to Osogbo last weekend to meet with hundreds of young people who gathered for our youth town hall meeting in KOWA PARTY. The singular thought that kept on coming back to my consciousness is what exactly is bound to happen when the younger generation finally takes over power?
Take it or leave it, the occurrences in the outside world have effect on us and will contribute to the happenings in our own political atmosphere sooner rather than later. I have no doubt in my mind that young people are going to take over the affairs of our country, and soon.
What I don’t have an answer to is whether we are going to be led again by youths ( young, competent and genuinely compassionate Nigerians) or yoots (young, average, desperate Nigerians)?
Jude Feranmi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JudeFeranmi