By Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua
When president Muhammad Buhari signed the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill into law, many Nigerian youths heaved a sigh of relief. They saw it as an opportunity to actively participate or take a shot in the country’s fledging democracy. Since the return of democracy, Nigerian youths have been relegated to the background. They have been prevented or not allowed to showcase their God given leadership talents. These energetic and productive youths who constitute over 70% of the country’s population have what it takes to steer the country to the promise land.
Unfortunately, however, the ruling elite have refused to give them a chance. Nigerian youths, from time immemorial have been playing passive political roles. They have been turned into political thugs by our political leaders. They are only engaged or hired during election. They will be given dangerous weapons, hard drugs in order to help and rig the election in favour of their sponsors. Sadly, after they (politicians) coasted to victory, these politicians abandon the youths to their fate.
The passing of not too young to run bill has re-kiddled the hope that, sooner than later, Nigerian youths would find themselves in the position of authorities. The forthcoming 2019 general election would serve as the litmus test for the laws. However, the spirit and enthusiasm or passion of Nigerian youths are being gradually killed by political parties. The ongoing sales of nomination forms by various political parties have been greeted with hue and cries. The exorbitant cost of the forms being charged by our political parties has become a matter of public discourse. It is generally viewed as direct attack against the ambition of many promising and interligent youths. No wonder, even president Buhari could not hide his feelings about the cost of the form as he admitted, he didn’t possess the N45millions to purchase it. At the end, it was political group or association that foot the bill and obtained the form for him. If the president could complain about the expensive cost of the form, what about the ordinary poor Nigerian youths who want to try their luck?
From how things unfold, it seems the political parties in concert with the ruling elites are hellbent to deny the Nigerian youths thier constitutional right to contest. The political parties which serve as the platform for leadership recruitment have failed to create a level playing field or conducive atmosphere for the Nigerian youths to excell in our democratic settings. For the youths who can afford the price of the forms, they will be confronted with additional challenges of heavy financial war chest to settle the powerful parties delegates. Also, they need to become the preferred or anointed candidates of our emperor governors to win the parties primaries. These huddles will inevitably discourage the youths from actively participating in politics.
With the global leadership shift which pays emphasis on youths, many political observers thought Nigeria will toe the line of developed countries. Emmanuel Macron became the president of France at younger age. In Nigeria, the old politicians who I read their history in the early 70’s and late 80’s are still calling the shot. The poser is:when are they vacating the politics for the younger generation? The no too young to run laws are charade and scam. The laws are perfectly working in others countries, but not in Nigeria where politics is commercialized beyond the reach of the average poor youths.
Pambegua sent this piece from Kaduna