I have often heard it said – probably from when I was in kindergarten or “jele o simi” – that children or youths are the “leaders of tomorrow.” It would seem obvious enough that the saying cannot be truer. But the saying appears not to be 100% true in Nigeria, except the definition of a youth is not what is generally accepted globally.
Leaders of Tomorrow in Theory
The import of the said saying is that youths will replace the older folks when they become of age. It assumes an ideal situation where young people are encouraged and prepared to take up leadership roles down the years. The truth is that not every youth is willing or has what it takes to be a leader. But there ought not to be any limitations set before young people who may aspire to be leaders sometime in the future. In a well-organized and working society, a young person can aim to become a leader, irrespective of gender, family background or religion.
The Nigerian Reality
An evaluation of the political and economic scenes in the Nigeria will reveal a country where it is hard to say youths are the leaders of tomorrow. It is sad to note that many of the older people have chosen to go the way of power monopolisation, even when they might not be as effective or efficient as they ought to. Most government institutions are filled with people due for retirement, to make room for the younger generation of people to move in, but who are unwilling to leave. Talk about the “sit-tight” syndrome.
In politics, we have many people who have been on the scene since independence. These same people are still looking to maintain their hold on power, even when their presence has not made any difference all these years. I don’t think I need to give examples. But if you need few mentions, you can check this Nairaland post. Or does it mean there are no vibrant and upright youths in the entire country? It baffles me.
It is possible for some names of some young people who have done remarkably well to be mentioned. For instance, the young Nigerians on the Choiseul 100 Africa list or few young people in political offices may be cited. While this could be considered as sign of progress in grooming leaders of tomorrow, the fact is that some of these people are connected to those occupying top offices. So without “connection” or readiness to soil your hands in something illegal, you may find yourself stranded and stunted as a youth. But it has to be said that it is not completely impossible to make something positive out of your life without “connection.”
Not Good Enough
There is the argument that young Nigerians of this present time are not good enough to become leaders in the future. This may actually be true to an extent. But then, this is a bad commentary on older generations. It means that our rulers have not done their work of properly grooming these young people. They have allowed our educational system to not only become obsolete, but to also slip into decay. Little wonder then that many of the so-called leaders prefer to have their children raised and educated out of the country, only returning to take up the official mantle from their parents. Sometimes, I’m even tempted to think that the deplorable situation of things is a deliberate effort to render many young people unfit to vie for leadership positions in Nigeria.
The most saddening thing of all is that many young people have seemingly made up their minds to toe the same part as the corrupt, older generations if given the opportunity to take up their positions. It makes me wonder what the future holds for this country. Who and where are the leaders of tomorrow? Perhaps, you can tell me.