For many decades in Nigeria, there have been widespread clamour for the devolution of power to the youths. Indeed, the youths are said to be the leaders of tomorrow. But 38 years after that famous phrase was uttered by General Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former Head of State, the youths of Nigeria are yet to lead the country. It can be safely argued that the youths of 1979 have now become men today and are leading the country, but a cursory look at the facts on ground indicate otherwise. That General Olusegun Obasanjo, the coiner of that phrase 38 years ago is still an active participant in Nigeria’s political process lends credence to my assertion. Mind you, when i talk about leadership, i am not talking about it in it’s strict sense which is political leadership but in it’s generic sense or rather permit me to say that i am using the word loosely. Apart from entertainment, sports and the social media, there seems to be very few youth leaders making meaningful impact in every sector of our national life. Rather, the youths are bogged down by unemployment and economic hardship which has degenerated into frustration and has made many of them to embrace vices like Illicit sex, pornography, gambling, armed robbery e.t.c
However, there is an ugly trend which is beginning to gain traction among the political leadership in Nigeria. It is nothing more than the fact that rogue youth leaders are beginning to rise to power. The recent coronation of Ateke Tom, a former militant leader, armed bandit and slaughterer of hundreds of thousands as the Amayanabo of Okochiri, Okirika, Rivers State beggars belief. Before him, the Yoruba nation had also given a highly revered title (Aare Ona Kakanfo) to a man whose thuggish past includes the murdering of thousands of innocent men, women and children extra-judicially. The Igbos are not lagging behind as they produced a separatist leader in the person of Nnamdi Kanu. A man who is a University drop out, an apostle of hate and a 42 year old man still living in his father’s house as their Generalissimo-the man they look unto to fight their cause. Can we also forget so soon the overbearing influence of Tompolo, an ex-militant leader, on the Goodluck Jonathan administration as regards appointments and policy making?
Truth be told, in all spheres of our national life, we have young and vibrant people who are giving their best in the pursuit of excellence in their chosen careers of profession. Their numbers may be negligible compared to the whole but they do exist. Even in the political sphere, we have young politicians with ideology and focus willing and able to take over from the old guard. The government should focus on this excellent crop of individuals especially in the area of appointments if indeed they are desirous of empowering the youths. The media should also celebrate such people so as to encourage other young people to want to follow in their footsteps. The elevation of rogue youth leaders in the society will contribute in no small measure to the further degradation of our value system as it will only encourage many young people to want to make money at all costs seeing that with lot’s of money in their kitty, they can easily buy respect, honour and influence in the society. I am tempted to believe that this is a deliberate ploy by the old guard to empower their minions so that their interests will be protected when they eventually bow out of power. It is only genuine, self less and committed youth leaders that can turn out to be true and capable leaders of tomorrow. This is my humble submission.