Gullible and unreflective Nigerians handicapped by genetic challenges are now pushing the causes of the societal malaise on non-involvement of Nigerian youth in political leadership. One such nonsense making the rounds is the example of youthful Nigerian leaders at independence. Nations have age limits for elective offices for cogent reasons. Intelligence cannot substitute for life experiences. A 20-year-old professor of physics will fail woefully as the Chairman of a local government area.

Africastallestman has great respect for Prof. Wole Soyinka but disagrees with him that youths make better leaders. The youths who were negotiating with British Lords had no business being at the same table with the much more experienced colonists. India was partitioned at Independence and Nigeria should have been partitioned at independence. There are just too many languages, religions, and unenlightened people to coexist in one nation. The following was attributed to Wole Soyinka in an interview.

“Awolowo was 37 years, Akintola 36, Ahmadu Bello 36, Balewa 34, Okotie-Eboh 27 and Enahoro 27 and they led the struggle for Nigeria Independence after the death of Macaulay. Only Zik was 42 at the time!

In 1966, the first military coup was led by K Nzeogwu who was 29 years and countered by M. Mohammed 28, T. Danjuma 28, I. Babangida 25, J. Garba 23, Sani Abacha 23, and M. Yar’adua 23, and brought into power Y. Gowon 32, Ojukwu 33, Obasanjo 29, and Buhari 24!

Most of the military governors who governed the states under the successive military regimes were under 30 years.

Also, the brief democratic dispensation which interjected the military interregnums also saw some Senators and members of the House of Representatives, in particular, populated by persons under 30!

Under 30’s were also not in short supply with appointments – we have examples of MT Mbu who became Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister at 23 and Pat Utomi who became a Federal Adviser at 27 and so on and so forth!…………..”

The first military coup will have sanitized the nation if the leaders were a little more mature. Take the examples of Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Brazil. General Rafael Pinochet of Chile, General Jorge Rafael Videla, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera and Brigadier-General Orlando Ramón Agosti of Argentina, and Marshal Humberto Castelo Branco of Brazil were all over 50 when they became military leaders. General Franco was 48, when he became the ruler of Spain, an African European country. And Nigeria is celebrating youthful military leadership! Despite their human rights abuses, which are intolerable, the mature military coupists moved their countries forward in the economic and political spheres.

Wasn’t Yakubu Gowon the youthful leader who had no business being near the seat of power? He once famously remarked that, ‘the problem of Nigeria is not money but what to do with it.’ After his disastrous leadership, he is now hoping that prayers will build the second Niger Bridge! Since money could not build it, maybe prayers will.

Mahatma Ghandi was 78 when India got its independence in 1947. Youthful Nigerian political leaders at independence were forced into politics because they were the only ones who could understand the white man’s language. They were in a hurry to replace the white men in the GRAs (Government Reservation Areas), Ikoyis, Victoria Islands, other highbrow residential areas all over Nigeria, and the various government houses.

They were more interested in filling their pockets than in formulating a plan for running a country after independence. Excepting Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, Mbonu Ojike and a few others, none of the families of the so-called independence leaders is not fabulously rich today!

George Washington was 56 when he became the first US president. 56 in those days is 80 years today. Nigeria needs mature leaders who are upright, incorruptible, fair and just and not the decrepit, misanthropic, thieving, hypocritical, and chameleonic characters parading as leaders today.

When Nigeria elects those leaders, the youth will just do fine with electricity, good roads, good health care, reliable communications, potable water supply in abundant supply. There are Mark Zuckerbergs in Nigeria whose ideas have been wiped out by Nigerian Electricity Distribution Companies or is it Electricity Distorting Companies through their incessant power failures and attendant equipment damage.

Africastallestman wishes that WhatsApp will disable the forward function so that these instances of misinformation die on arrival in our inboxes.

Comments always welcome.

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