Each time I hear the older generation frequently say to today’s youth, ‘You are the leaders of tomorrow’, I feel it’s an unconscious ploy by the older generation to continue steering the wheels of leadership today. Thereby making the younger generation continue living in a state of oblivion of a tomorrow which might never come. Thus; the popular saying, ‘Today is the tomorrow that we thought about yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Take care of today, and tomorrow will take care of itself’.
Nigeria’s historical march to freedom from colonial rule was driven and championed by a youth who were politically-enlightened, patriotic, nationalistic and goal-driven. It contained leaders of repute such as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Anthony Enahoro, etc. Sadly, the political class of Nigerian’s independence is still running the country and handpicking its own to man the leadership across the federation.
I consider it an aberration each time the younger generation of today, full of life, technocratic in nature, in tune with modern trends of globalisation, erudite, and youth who know their onion in their respective fields, say they are not interested in politics, believing it’s a dirty and amoral game, thereby choosing to stay apolitical. The world was agog when a 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron became the youngest President of France in their history. Other ‘young’ politicians include the Macedonian Prime Minister, Emil Dimitireu, who is 38 years old, Justin Trudeau (47), Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of Australia (50), and Sebastian Kurz, the Prime Minister of Austria (32) and several others. These were young people who got involved in the process, joined political movements, and emerged victorious, thereby changing their country’s narrative of ‘youth are the leaders of tomorrow to youth are today’s leaders’.
The signing of the “Not Too Young To Run” bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari is a step in the right direction to galvanize the youth that tomorrow’s leadership has been placed in our hands today. However, leadership is not a right offered on a platter of gold, it is earned. The older generation must be convinced that the younger generation has all it takes to drive the nation to its glory land. Evident in the words of President Buhari after signing the bill, who said, ‘You can aspire for President but please postpone your campaign till after the 2019 election’. My worry about that comment from the President is that, if the President is re-elected and finishes his 2nd term in office come 2023, what is the guarantee that the younger generation will be given an opportunity to produce the next President of Nigeria? It echoes my earlier sentiment of, “Youths are the leaders of tomorrow; A tomorrow which might never come”.
Young people should not only use their social media platform to always complain about the sorry state of the country plundered by the older generation but should instead break the jinx of grabbing the mantle of leadership and effect the change it so desires. According to the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, ‘Youths have a challenge in their hands for the future of our country; so, I advise you not to sit down and fold your hands and be lamenting over bad leadership or politicians. Get down to business, organise and do something to become elected political youths….Tomorrow we are talking of is now’.
Finally, let me borrow a quote from Alvin Toffler (1928 - 2016), which says, ‘The secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they—at some distant point in future—will take over the reins. Yet the fact is that society is not running itself nicely…..because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties. For society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.’ I believe the tomorrow’s leaders are no more but are today’s leaders. I urge all Nigerian Youths to stand up and let’s paint ‘our’ today in bold colours, set today’s rhythm and create ‘our’ today for a better tomorrow.
Written by Evans Chigbundu
Email address: Chigbunduevans@gmail.com