[Article] Tertsua sonter Philip

YOUTHS AS FUTURE LEADERS: AN IRONY!
 Youths are the leaders of tomorrow, they say. This saying I have known since childhood and I have been wondering if thats true in its real sense.
Again, "youths are the future leaders, is the proclamation of most Nigerian speakers and writers. But you and I know that our grandparents promised our parents the same, and our political leaders are promising us the same today. May I ask for heavens sake: when, where and what is this so-called future? Is there any such thing as future at all in this part of the world?
The above assertion "youth are the future leaders" is therefore ironic, because sadly enough, youths are only considered in Nigeria during electioneering periods when they are freely supplied with alcohol, little sum of money and harmful drugs by power drunk compatriots who usually win elections at the expense of peace. They call harmful drugs and alcohol morale booster for the youths. In other words, the supposed "future leaders" are neglected and are nowhere close to the mantle of leadership.
For instance, the average age of Nigerias serving ministers skirts round about 60 / 70, and most of them may have lost not only the occupational gusto, but the matching intellectual rigour and contemporaneous resources to manage a post- modern economy. Therefore, the claim that "youths are the future leaders" is nothing but falsehood, especially in a stereotypical country like Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari for example had led the nation in time past, even though as a military Head of State. He had held other notable positions of service to the country, and after nearly three decades of his pillage into national leadership, he rejuvenated again, into mainstream leadership, albeit with foreseeable handicaps and incapacities, had administered for four years and has been re-elected at age 76.  The question is, when is the alleged "tomorrow" for youths to lead? Do we mean to say there has been  no "tomorrow" from 1983 till date? George Akume (born 27 December 1953) is a Nigerian politician who is the current Minister of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs. Akume  who was a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 2007 to 2015, was also the Minority Leader of the Senate from June 2011 to June 2015. He was also the Governor of Benue State from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. Ordinarily, one will think that at age 67, he should be retiring after his appointment but it will be  shocking to discover that revers will be the case. This is but to mention few amongst many others.
Ironically, all our leaders refer to youths as "future leaders". The re-echoing question is when, where, and what is the future? This promotes the itching question: when and where is the future, who is a youth?
According to UNESCO, youthhood is a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthoods independence and awareness of interdependence as member of a community. So it is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group. According to Commonwealth to which Nigeria is a member, a youth is anyone between 18 and 35 years of age. This age limitation can be less or higher in some other countries.
Consequently, according to Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics, the total population of citizen in Nigeria in 2018 should be around 197,160,687 of which the youths constitute 33,652,424 following the population collected in 2012 which was around 166.2 million people. In 2016, it was estimated to have grown to over 178.5 million.You can imagine that about half of the countrys population are youths and that almost all the decision-makers are living corpses.
 Ironically, Section 131 of the 1999 constitution as amended states that - "A person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if he has attained the age of forty years. In case of Senator, he has attained thirty five-years while in the case of Member House of Representatives, he has attained thirty years". This clearly shows that though the country belongs to the youths, they are not allowed to contest for its leadership. A would-be dead generation is literally empowered by default to decide the fate of living people what a great irony!
Grammatically, the future means a period of time following the moment of speaking or writing  a time still to come. It could be tomorrow, later or indefinite. This makes it logical to believe that the so-called future should be now. Yes, the future is now because today is the future for yesterday and yesterday was the future for the preceding days! Today is bad for the youths because the days before yesterday and yesterday were never prepared properly.
"Youths are the future leaders" - this assertion may  be true of course but I find my mind to be more comfortable with saying it the other way round: the youths are the leaders of today. However it may be, whether the leaders of today or tomorrow, all that matters is the desire for difference from yesterday.
The time has come for us to mark the eve of the long-awaited tomorrow for the youths to realize their position of leadership in the society. Different generations have come and gone but upon the present lies a greater expectation.
Perhaps I should quote the words of A.P Giannini (1870  1949), as saying: I leave everything to the young men. Youve got to give youthful men authority and responsibility if youre going to build up an organization. Otherwise you will always be the boss yourself and you wont leave anything behind you.
I believe the call is now! Let the youths be allowed to participate at all level of governance and decision-making for a great and healthier democracy, and as well to save the future of our great nation. As Francis Bacon (1561  1626) puts it, Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business.
Finally, I will put my pen to rest by asking; do you still believe that those youths who have been transformed into political mascaras yet constantly denied of all basic human needs are still going to be future leaders? Except the youths act now, the proclamation "youths are the future leaders" will remain an irony.

By Tertsua Sonter Philip:
president, Department of English
University of Jos.

Thanks  to you all

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