For The Record
A Tribute To Our Chairman Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs
By Members Of The Government Team – FGN/ Universities-based Unions Re-negotiation
We, the members of the Renegotiating team of Government under the dynamic, committed, patriotic and visionary leadership of our Chairman, Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, pay this short elegiac Tribute to our departed leader. We stand with him, along with the larger body of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors, even in his transcendence to immortality, in his total dedication to and advocacy for the triumph of education–tertiary education in particular–and the rebirth of our dear country from the present doldrums and travails, which he faithfully served to the last drop of his breath.
We jointly say, ‘Adieu’ to the inspiring, selfless and humble leader of our GROUP. We worked by his side, during the tortuous, hazardous months of our renegotiating task, for the rescue of the soul of our universities and the education sector of our nation in general. We found him an enviable leader of men and ideas, a genuine national patriot and alluring hero– in a nation in dearth and dire need of heroes.
Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, our Chairman, you live forever in our memory, even as we struggle to live down a regime of denial and disbelief, that you a man of such magnetic presence and prescience could be taken away from our midst so suddenly and with such unpardonable ease. If we got a premonition of your demise, we would have borrowed your lai lai to lai lai dictum–your never- ever sing-song in combating the impossibility of failure, a signal of rejection of the suggestion that evil/people can triumph over good/people. Your passionate belief in human possibilities–the triumph of humanity–that every good thing will happen and that the Negotiated Agreement, based on a proposal of Quality Education in the Nigerian academy as the bedrock of civilization, will see the bright light of the day and its implementation will come to pass– all reveal, distinctly, your persuasion of the indomitability of the human spirit.
Here then is the leader, our leader, of the last Re-Negotiation team, who led us with alluring humility, taught us leadership in humility and who has gone to join his ancestors, unbeaten, unbowed. Here is Nimi Dimkpa Briggs, an indomitable patriot and genuine national hero with a remarkable pedigree who believed and lived in the belief that the Nigerian Project is doable and will be done. He approached the Negotiation with the unions on that principle with unquestionable panache and eloquent integrity. Realizing that a different approach must be adopted to continue the earlier effort of preceding negotiators, and contrary to the lie that we didn’t, he ensured that all the critical agencies of government were carried along in the process. He ensured that government itself was constantly consulted and briefed at every critical stage of the Re-negotiation to get their buy-in. On the basis of the confidence that our team had the ear and approval of government, the Unions, especially the ASUU, worked with us, participated in drawing the final Draft of the Agreement and committed to it appreciably. Not stopping there, they went ahead to prepare their principals, and their Congresses, for the actual signing of the Agreement. With a positive turn-of-mind, that Agreement was realistic and acceptable to government, especially at the Ministerial level, we submitted it.
And even when it was obvious that, contrary to our expectation, the Agreement was not going to receive the blessing of the ultimate authority, Professor Emeritus Nimi Dimkpa Briggs led us on in the conviction that the document will sail through eventually, because, as he drummed it into our willing ears, there was no alternative to accepting the well-wrought document, if the university system will be rescued from its present doldrums, decadence and declining standards. He refused to be daunted or ruffled when the patently distracting legal process was entered into by an agent of government and a court injunction was obtained when the easiest option was to get the two parties to sign the Agreement. The Committee of Pro-Chancellors, following our Chairman’s Report to it, set up a small team to further seek audience with government at the highest level to obtain a minimal consent of government by a slight shift of position to salvage the system. The failure of that effort did not lead to despair or despondency. Until he breathed his last, the apostle of human possibility, a global scientific intellectual and clinician par excellence who, additionally was a man of letters, who believed in the arts as a curative and redemptive instrument, Nimi Dimkpa Briggs held us together, undaunted in his belief in the irresistibilty of such a solution-laden document. He was ready for any other opening that will bring resolution to the crisis of education in our country that our Committee was set up to address and which he embarked upon with dogged commitment and genuineness of purpose.
We, on the Re-Negotiating Team left behind, stand firmly behind the Briggs’ ideal, that visionary leadership, committed to the triumph of education as a bedrock of human civilization and the imperishability of the regime of merit in national growth, will still emerge and our educational system, nay our beloved country, which Professor Emeritus Nimi Briggs laboured tenaciously and died for, will come to be.
Adieu then, leader of our Group, champion of thought and ideas, Chairman of the Re-Negotiating Team of the FGN/University-based Unions Committee, Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellor, foremost educationist, inimitable university administrator and immortal national hero.
You live on in our memories.
By the Remaining Members of the Team;
- Senator Chris Adighije,
Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Lokoja, Lokoja, Kogi State.
- Professor Emeritus Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth,
Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Birnin Kebbi, Birni Kebbi, Kebbi State.
- Arc Lawrence-P. Ngbale, FNIA,
Pro-Chancellor, Federal University Wukari, Wukari, Taraba State.
- Professor Zubairu Iliyasu,
Pro-Chancellor, Aliko Dangote, University of Science and Technology, Wudil, Kano State.
- Barr. Matthew Seiyefa, mni
Pro-Chancellor, Niger-Delta University, William Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State.
- Professor Olu Obafemi, FNAL, NNOM.
Pro-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State.
For The Record
Acceptance Speech For Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award By Canadian Association Of African Studies
By Toyin Falola
I am grateful to Mr. President, the Vice-President, the Past President, the Director, the Board Members, and all the members of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS). Having been conferred with the Distinguished Africanist Award by the African Studies Association in 2011, I never expected that another one would follow by yet another global preeminent academic association.
I stand before you at this honorable time, emotionally touched by your generosity towards me and greatly inspired by your rare gesture of recognizing the little I have contributed to knowledge production and the rejuvenation of African epistemic traditions. The decision to acknowledge me, perhaps unknown to you, rekindles in me the spirit of continued dedication, for it reveals that the ability to make changes is unrestricted by age or location, especially when the soul is involved. Meanwhile, change is necessary for sustainable and transcendental transformation; without change, ideas would die of exhaustion, creativity would cease to be itself, and productivity would be sabotaged in the process.
Mr. President, it was within the foundational philosophy of this noble Association to promote the study of Africa in Canada and the world. Over the years, CAAS has done so as a moral and ideological responsibility, thereby contributing to African-Canada relations. That philosophy has yielded substantial results and that we are here today to produce rounds of knowledge affirms the sanctity of this togetherness. When I contributed my tiny quota to your goals by way of once organizing a conference for you, giving two Keynote Addresses, serving on the Joel Gregory Book Prize, and evaluating manuscripts for your preeminent journal, I never knew that a day like this would come. I feel most humbled and grateful, and with limitless appreciation for the confidence you have reposed in me and an unalloyed dedication to honor your belief in me, I accept the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from CAAS.
Distinguished scholars and members of the audience, I am now in the circle of remarkable intellectuals whom you have acknowledged for similar outstanding contributions and performances in their various fields, and I feel the burden of greater responsibility on me. Of a truth, I am an individual culturally reified in a philosophical paradigm of the Yorùbá whose axiomatic saying “Yin’ni, yin’ni, kẹ́ni ó ṣe òmíràn,” which loosely translates as a repeated shower of gratitude is a clarion call to do more, or to whom much is given, much is expected. This has often placed on me the moral burden to expand whatever it is I am recognized for doing. I am aware that it is not within the moral circumference of any culture in the world to publicly award evil, and that presupposes that my contributions to knowledge, which have been recognized, are expected to be multiplied. By virtue of my age, such consistency may be conflicted by nature, but that does undermine the reality that the manifestation of knowledge contribution is fluid and flexible. This means that even if creating a network of knowledge transmission through my books, lectures, listservs, and workshops experiences would decline, age cannot take away from me mentorship to our coming generations of Africans, assisting the academic fledglings to grow, and providing a friendly atmosphere to intending academics.
Mr. President, if we have collectively learned anything from the beautiful development experienced recently as a human family, it would be that the place of knowledge cannot be overemphasized in transforming and sustaining human society. Although this understanding should not elude anyone, we should not be ignorant that knowledge production, distribution, use, and reformation can never be as innocent as we have been made to understand it. This deduction finds its strength in the fact that if it is true that knowledge production is devoid of strange politics, this distinguished body, the Canadian Association of African Studies, would not have been birthed in the first place. However, the awareness that knowledge engagements available in the diasporic environment, especially in Canada, are potentially hostile and hegemonic necessitated an association such as this. CAAS is irrevocably committed to the advancement and upsurge of knowledge so that the epistemic traditions and foundations of Africans here would escape the compromise that the environment proposes. We have both a moral and ideological responsibility to rescue African Studies epistemically because this place has a glistering history that must never be undermined―glistering because the strength and struggles of the displaced Indigenous people have produced stellar results that today’s reality of Africans here has drawn from. Essentially, you and I owe ourselves the right to develop and build a civilization that reflects our thinking.
Ladies and gentlemen, have you not established methodologies in developing and nurturing this Association with which information is sourced and education transferred? Have you failed to raise intellectually vibrant Africans leading in several areas of their careers with excellent and exceptional impact? Have you not created a healthy academic atmosphere where knowledge about critical issues related to Africa has been consistently shared? Mr. President, within the time of establishment, you have, as a collective, harmonized the ideas of outstanding contributors to this project to drive policies and services of immense significance to the various areas of existence. Through the persistent insistence of CAAS, the Canadian Journal of African Studies (CJAS) was created. Who among us here would deny the overwhelming contributions of the journal to African academics? Is it not a journal that provides the platform and motivation for academia who have showcased brilliance and excellence in their research engagements? Have you not also created an opportunity for government representatives, leaders, non-governmental organizations, activists, and non-state actors, among others, to draw on knowledge for policies that drive critical development?
Distinguished scholars, colleagues, and friends, you have, in good dispositions, facilitated the meteoric growth of intellectualism from the beginning of our engagement, and that tradition has continued regardless of different challenges, which your dedication has helped you to overcome. How else can we reiterate the importance of CAAS to the survival of the African identity in the diaspora environment if not through the enumeration of the great things you have done as a people and as an Association? CAAS has stood up for numerous Africans who have witnessed various forms of dreadful challenges because of the color of their skin. The Association has committed itself to issues of development within the Federation to emphasize how its members are concerned about rapid progress for the generality of Canadians. The number of conferences organized by CAAS continues to grow admirably, through which they offer fresh opportunities for scholars across the globe who have brilliant ideas to share with the world, especially by looking at issues from the lens of Africa and Africans. CAAS has always taken on fundamental matters that require urgent attention, and in the spirit of humanitarian compassion, you have executed projects that bring invaluable additions to the human world. That underscores your values as a people and your commitment to making meaningful changes in the global environment. You have enlarged our desire to promote ideas that would bring rapid changes to the human world through the programs, events, and platforms you have created within the time of your existence as an association for scholarship and human flourishing.
Mr. President, your decision to honor me with the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award is a form of affirmation by you and the members of the Association to ensure that individuals like me have a continued focus on enhancing a brighter future for the African diaspora. Although I am the recipient of that award, the inspiration it would encourage will not fall on my shoulders alone, for I am confident that those who are available here today will feel that sense of commitment and seriousness, as I do, to issues that would benefit Africa and the world generally. Therefore, this honor is for us all! I am inclined to think this way because I know that the human spirit wants to be triggered by the external motivation to perform the magic already wired in them or that they are naturally capable of.
The continually evolving world, ladies and gentlemen, demands that we also reposition ourselves and understand more deeply the sense of responsibility we owe the generations of Africans to come. We must not forget that it is important that we continue to interrogate ideas produced by our forebears, for they can be more relevant in the modern world than we imagine. Ideas are the result of human mental energy put to use in the course of refining the thoughts in the mind. All we need is to intensify our research trade and ensure that we introduce ideas for the benefit of humankind.
I am most grateful to you all for the well-intentioned recognition accorded to me, leading to this exemplary award. It is mind-blowing and, at the same time, humbling, to say the least. Africa will continue to find its footing, and we will never cease to take the world by surprise.
May 31, 2023.
For The Record
President Bola Tinubu’s Inaugural Address On May 29,2023
The Nigerian Ideal
My Fellow Citizens,
I stand before you honoured to assume the sacred mandate you have given me. My love for this nation is abiding. My confidence in its people, unwavering. And my faith in God Almighty, absolute. I know that His hand shall provide the needed moral strength and clarity of purpose in those instances when we seem to have reached the limits of our human capacity.
This day is bold and majestic yet bright and full of spirit, as is our precious nation.
As a nation, we have long ago decided to march beyond the dimness of night into the open day of renewed national hope.
The question we now ask ourselves is whether to remain faithful to the work inherent in building a better society or retreat into the shadows of our unmet potential.
For me, there is but one answer. We are too great a nation and too grounded as a people to rob ourselves of our finest destiny.
This nation’s journey has been shaped by the prayers of millions, and the collective sacrifices of us all.
We have endured hardships that would have made other societies crumble.
Yet, we have shouldered the heavy burden to arrive at this SUBLIME moment where the prospect of a better future merges with our improved capacity to create that future.
To the surprise of many but not to ourselves, we have more firmly established this land as a democracy in both word and deed.
The peaceful transition from one government to another is now our political tradition. This handover symbolizes our trust in God, our enduring faith in representative governance and our belief in our ability to reshape this nation into the society it was always meant to be.
Here, permit me to say a few words to my predecessor, President Muhammadu Buhari. Mr President, you have been an honest, patriotic leader who has done his best for the nation you love. On a more personal note, you are a worthy partner and friend. May History be kind to you.
For many years, Nigeria’s critics have trafficked the rumour that our nation will break apart, even perish.
Yet here we are. We have stumbled at times, but our resilience and diversity have kept us going.
Our burdens may make us bend at times, but they shall never break us.
Instead, we stand forth as Africa’s most populous nation and as the best hope and strongest champion of the Black Race.
As citizens, we declare as one unified people devoted to one unified national cause, that as long as this world exists, NIGERIA SHALL EXIST.
Today, Fate and Destiny join together to place the torch of human progress in our very hands. We dare not let it slip.
We lift high this torch so that it might shine on every household and in every heart that calls itself Nigerian. We hold this beam aloft because it lights our path with compassion, brotherhood, and peace. May this great light never EXTINGUISH.
Our administration shall govern on your behalf but never rule over you. We shall consult and dialogue but never dictate. We shall reach out to all but never put down a single person for holding views contrary to our own.
We are here to further mend and heal this nation, not tear and injure it.
In this vein, may I offer a few comments regarding the election that brought us to this juncture. It was a hard fought contest. And it was also fairly won. Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, Nigeria has not held an election of better quality.
The outcome reflected the will of the people. However, my victory does not render me any more Nigerian than my opponents. Nor does it render them any less patriotic.
They shall forever be my fellow compatriots. And I will treat them as such. They represent important constituencies and concerns that wisdom dare not ignore.
They have taken their concerns to court. Seeking legal redress is their right and I fully defend their exercise of this right. This is the essence of the rule of law.
Over six decades ago, our founding fathers gave bravely of themselves to place Nigeria on the map as an independent nation.
We must never allow the labor of those who came before us to wither in vain but to blossom and bring forth a better reality.
Let us take the next great step in the journey they began and believed in.
Today, let us recommit our very selves to placing Nigeria in our hearts as the indispensable home for each and every one of us regardless of creed, ethnicity, or place of birth.
My supporters, I thank you. To those who voted otherwise, I extend my hand across the political divide. I ask you to grasp it in national affinity and brotherhood. For me, political coloration has faded away. All I see are Nigerians.
May we uphold these fitting and excellent notions as the new Nigerian ideal.
My fellow compatriots,
The Nigerian ideal which I speak of is more than just an improvement in economic and other statistics. These things are important; but they can never convey the fullness of our story.
Our mission is to improve our way of life in a manner that nurtures our humanity, encourages compassion toward one another, and duly rewards our collective effort to resolve the social ills that seek to divide us.
Our constitution and laws give us a nation on paper. We must work harder at bringing these noble documents to life by strengthening the bonds of economic collaboration, social cohesion, and cultural understanding. Let us develop a shared sense of fairness and equity.
The South must not only seek good for itself but must understand that its interests are served when good comes to the North. The North must see the South likewise.
Whether from the winding creeks of the Niger Delta, the vastness of the northern savannah, the boardrooms of Lagos, the bustling capital of Abuja, or the busy markets of Onitsha, you are all my people. As your president, I shall serve with prejudice toward none but compassion and amity towards all.
In the coming days and weeks, my team will publicly detail key aspects of our programme. Today, permit me to outline in broad terms a few initiatives that define our concept of progressive good governance in furtherance of the Nigerian ideal:
The principles that will guide our administration are simple:
1. Nigeria will be impartially governed according to the constitution and the rule of law.
2. We shall defend the nation from terror and all forms of criminality that threaten the peace and stability of our country and our subregion.
3. We shall remodel our economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and an end of extreme poverty.
4. In our administration, Women and youth will feature prominently.
5. Our government will continue to take proactive steps such as championing a credit culture to discourage corruption while strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the various anti-corruption agencies.
Security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amidst insecurity and violence.
To effectively tackle this menace, we shall reform both our security DOCTRINE and its ARCHITECTURE.
We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number. We shall provide, better training, equipment, pay and firepower.
On the economy, we target a higher GDP growth and to significantly reduce unemployment.
We intend to accomplish this by taking the following steps:
First, budgetary reform stimulating the economy without engendering inflation will be instituted.
Second, industrial policy will utilize the full range of fiscal measures to promote domestic manufacturing and lessen import dependency.
Third, electricity will become more accessible and affordable to businesses and homes alike. Power generation should nearly double and transmission and distribution networks improved. We will encourage states to develop local sources as well.
I have a message for our investors, local and foreign: our government shall review all their complaints about multiple taxation and various anti-investment inhibitions.
We shall ensure that investors and foreign businesses repatriate their hard earned dividends and profits home.
My administration must create meaningful opportunities for our youth. We shall honour our campaign commitment of one million new jobs in the digital economy.
Our government also shall work with the National Assembly to fashion an omnibus Jobs and Prosperity bill. This bill will give our administration the policy space to embark on labour-intensive infrastructural improvements, encourage light industry and provide improved social services for the poor, elderly and vulnerable.
Rural incomes shall be secured by commodity exchange boards guaranteeing minimal prices for certain crops and animal products. A nationwide programme for storage and other facilities to reduce spoilage and waste will be undertaken.
Agricultural hubs will be created throughout the nation to increase production and engage in value-added processing. The livestock sector will be introduced to best modern practices and steps taken to minimize the perennial conflict over land and water resources in this sector.
Through these actions, food shall be made more abundant yet less costly. Farmers shall earn more while the average Nigerian pays less.
We shall continue the efforts of the Buhari administration on infrastructure. Progress toward national networks of roads, rail and ports shall get priority attention.
We commend the decision of the outgoing administration in phasing out the petrol subsidy regime which has increasingly favoured the rich more than the poor. Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources. We shall instead re-channel the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.
Monetary policy needs thorough housecleaning. The Central Bank must work towards a unified exchange rate. This will direct funds away from arbitrage into meaningful investment in the plant, equipment and jobs that power the real economy.
Interest rates need to be reduced to increase investment and consumer purchasing in ways that sustain the economy at a higher level.
Whatever merits it had in concept, the currency swap was too harshly applied by the CBN given the number of unbanked Nigerians. The policy shall be reviewed. In the meantime, my administration will treat both currencies as legal tender.
Given the world in which we reside, please permit a few comments regarding foreign policy.
The crisis in Sudan and the turn from democracy by several nations in our immediate neighbourhood are of pressing concern.
As such, my primary foreign policy objective must be the peace and stability of the West African subregion and the African continent. We shall work with ECOWAS, the AU and willing partners in the international community to end extant conflicts and to resolve new ones.
As we contain threats to peace, we shall also retool our foreign policy to more actively lead the regional and continental quest for collective prosperity.
This is the proudest day of my life. But this day does not belong to me. It belongs to you, the people of Nigeria.
On this day, Nigeria affirms its rightful place among the world’s great democracies. There, Nigeria shall reside forever.
The course of our past and the promise of the future have brought us to this exceptional moment.
In this spirit, I ask you to join me in making Nigeria a more perfect nation and democracy such that the Nigerian ideal becomes and forever remains the Nigerian reality.
With full confidence in our ability, I declare that these things are within our proximate reach because my name is Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and I am the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
May God bless you and May He bless our beloved land.
For The Record
The Youths In Leadership: Are They Living Up To Expectations?
By Stella Omonigho
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observed that youth is best described as a period of transition from dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as a community. Although being youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age group age remains the easiest way of defining it. For statistical consistency the term youth is defined by the UN as “persons between ages 15 and 24 years”. African Youth Charter however defined a youth as a person between the ages of 15 and 35 years. The common wealth defines youth as persons between 15 and 29 years while the Nigerian National Youth Policy defines youths as anyone between the ages of 18 and 35 years. In Nigeria especially in the political arena we have come to identify youths as those who claim to be youths irrespective of their chronological or biological ages. Most youth organizations and political wings have been hijacked by adults who are far older than the defined age limits assigned to youths. The implications are mindboggling and progress- stilling.
With nearly 70% of Nigeria’s population below the age of 35, it is therefore crucial that young people are represented in the country’s political systems and since politics is a game of numbers young people have an advantage which is not well-harnessed by them. In May 2018, Nigeria passed a new law which lowered the age limits for political office from 35 to 30 years in the Senate, and 30 to 25 years in the House of Representatives and State House of Assembly. Known as the “Not Too Young to Run” bill, the move was intended to reflect the changing demographics of Africa’s most populous nation and help usher in younger leaders. While this is a great step towards youth inclusion in politics, it is clear that more still need to be done to put young people at the very heart of politics, governance and decision-making in Nigeria. Despite the new law in Nigeria paving the way for more young people to be inducted into the leadership framework of the country, none of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ministerial nominations fall within the new policy’s definition of a young person. Indeed, while the National Youth Policy defines young people as being between the ages of 15 and 29, the youngest member among the list of nominees is 43 years old Sadiya Umar Farouq.
Young people are also energetic and are less afraid to take risks because they have less commitments. Youths constitute a veritable political resource that only old politicians have learnt to explore.
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There is absolutely no way youths can attain leadership without political participation. So what is political participation? This is the action or activity of engaging passively or actively in the political process by making his or her opinions and beliefs known. The importance of citizens’ participation in politics cannot be overestimated as it is vital to good governance and an egalitarian democracy. Verba, Nie (1972); Easton (1953:134) for instance, stated that when post-war American political scientists thought about political participation, they quite simply thought about acts intentionally aimed at influencing governmental decisions (Ekman, Amna, 2012). Citizens’ participation in politics is very important because it determines how much power is controlled (Verba, 2001). For Verba, Nie, Kim (1978:1) by political participation we refer to those legal acts by private citizens that are more or less directly aimed at influencing the selection of governmental personnel and/or the actions that they take (Ekman, Amna, 2012). It is the action taken by a citizen to influence the outcome of a political process. Sadly, in Nigeria there is vivid exclusion of youths from active and conventional politics and leadership positions. Currently, youth exclusion is strongly evident, often crossing with other forms of marginalization linked to gender, location, culture and/or community and even economic status. Despite the ‘not too young to run bill’ passed into law many youths obviously can’t run for electoral position thus giving rise to the need for what I call “not too poor to run” bill. Poverty is one of the greatest challenges faced by young people. This problem is further compounded by a number of other factors such as poverty, youth restiveness, political violence and more worrisome youth’s involvement in rituals and internet fraud.
What is leadership?
Leadership is the ability to inspire a team to achieve a certain goal. It’s usually discussed in the context of business or politics, but leadership is also how you, as an individual, choose to lead your life. The definition of leadership is to influence, inspire and help others become their best selves, building their skills and achieving goals along the way. The definition given by Dwight D. Eisenhower gives a clearer picture especially within the context of our discussion: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” So, leadership is influence. What then is influence? It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself. Hanah Miller (2021) on leadership argued that in defining leadership we need to understand what leadership is not. For her leadership is not commanding authority, it is not management and it is not one size fits all. So, leadership entails the ability to cause the needed effect in the most effective way through influence.
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The role of Nigerian youths in political leadership
Historically youths have always been actively involved in politics in Nigeria. The unequal political participation across gender has been linked to various factors. Individual involvement at various levels of the political process is a function of several factors such as education, political socialization, sex differential, socioeconomic status occupation etc. Nigeria has witnessed levels of youth participation in politics in the following era:
Most of those who fought and agitated and struggled for independence in Nigeria were youths in their 20’s, 30’s and a few in their early 40’s. Herbert Macaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Anthony Enaholo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransom Kuti amongst others.
The moment Nigerian gained independence more young persons both in the political parties and in the military took active roles in politics with a few elderly persons in their 50s. We can say that independence Nigeria encouraged conventional political participation. This was mainly because young people were more educated as at that time, they were interested in building an ideal country; they were zealous and committed to the Nigeria project. Young people at that time believed in the Nigerian vision and had hope that the vision was realizable. Despite these great advantages the young people at that time were self-driven, ethno/tribal/religious driven and each had a desire to cling to power.
The challenge created by these crop of politicians who are now elderly and some diseased of clinging to political power and refusing to retire or take the back stage is mainly responsible for relegating young people to unconventional political participation.
The idea of youth leadership has become a contemporary sociopolitical issue in every part of the world and it is evidently clear that youths’ participation in leadership processes relating to electioneering and governance often end at the polls and during campaigns .
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There are a lot of unfavorable forces deterring youths from effective engagement in leadership which include lack of internal party democracy, systemic discrimination against the youths by political parties, god-fatherism, and lack of funds to sponsor sustainable political machinery and a lot more (Muhammad Sani Kassim). So, in post-independence Nigeria young people no longer believe in the Nigerian dream or project, young people have lost hope in Nigeria and are driven by self-ambitions, young people have different sets of values and very importantly can’t compete effectively with the well-established, rich, popular, experienced old politicians. Finally, most young people are poor, mal-educated, unemployed and given more to violence and aggression rather than peace and dialogue. The resultant effect is increase in unconventional political participation of youths in Nigeria, increase in crime such as money rituals, internet fraud and other vices.
Youths in leadership: Challenges
Nigeria:Participation in Constitution-review process UNDP supported youth based CSO coalition to actively participate in the Constitution review process, including submission of memorandum to the constitution review committees of the National Assembly. A Nigerian Youth Agenda on Political Participation has been developed together with a Nigerian Youth Inter party Forum. The forum is used by youth members across party lines to come together and deliberate on issues of common interest and challenges among other things one being expanding the frontiers for youth political participation.
The desire of young people to take over leadership in Nigeria may not manifest anytime soon because in my opinion I think the young people in Nigeria are not ready. They are waiting to be given power not knowing that power is not given, power is taken. The young people are clamoring for youth’s takeover of the leadership position in the country without adequate preparation. Despite their population advantage young people in Nigeria are faced with the following challenges:
Lack cohesiveness in their ranks to mobilize for national integration to achieve oneness of purpose.
Political errand boys and appointees
Lack of ideology
Youths in leadership: Are they living up to expectations? Any hope?
The desire for an effective leadership is what has necessitated the clamour for youths involvement in leadership. Most blue chip companies globally are headed by young people and some national governments are ably led by young people. The Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin is 36 years old amongst others. As noted earlier Nigeria was led by young people:
General Gowon (19/10/1934) Ruled 1/08/1966 – 29/7/1975 was 31 years old when he ruled Nigeria – It was characterized by civil war
Gen. Murtala (8/11/1938) Ruled 30/7/1975 – 13/02/1976 was 37 years old when he ruled Nigeria- characterized by high handedness
Gen. Obasanjo (05/05/1937) Ruled 13/02/1976 – 01/10/1979 was 39 years old when he relued Nigeria – Characterized by austerity.
The expectations are high but few young people like Dimeji Bankole, Governor Yahayah Bello and a few others who attained leadership position have not fared differently. There is still this feeling of dissatisfaction among Nigerians thus calling to question the clamor for “Youths in leadership in Nigeria”.
Honestly, in this dispensation it is too early to judge the youths in leadership as far as politics in Nigeria is concerned. Youths have really not been given a fair opportunity but we can assess the youths in terms of youth culture of leadership and followership in Nigeria.
First, let me begin with the youths in student union leadership in Nigeria. I believe that some of the youth leaders on our campuses need to be schooled on true leadership. A situation where an SUG president of a higher institution in Nigeria (name withheld) will appoint over 50 personal assistants is laughable and worrisome. Most student unions take advantage of their fellow students, buying cars, travelling and spending recklessly just like the traditional politicians. They appear to have learnt wrongly.
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Cultism and gangsters among young people in Nigeria is taking a worrisome dimension. The ease with which they kill and maim themselves in pursuit of superiority and dominance leaves one worried if these will make good leaders.
The rise in ritual killing for money, kidnapping for money, banditry, terrorism, rape and other vices chiefly spearheaded by young people in Nigeria makes you fear if there is any hope for Nigeria. The most devastating of all these is the craze for wealth. The excuse is usually that of poverty and unemployment but wait a minute. You are sacrificing your family and friends for your comfort. That is not leadership.
Taking up subservient roles from old politicians, manipulating the electoral process for financial gains and appointments.
These and many others combined with the unfriendly political, economic and social atmosphere created by our current leaders make it difficult if not impossible to see any hope for a better Nigeria.
How to increase youth participation in politics and leadership
The lines of action of the Youth Strategy on youth participation in politics are (https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/en/content/youthwiki/55-national-strategy-increase-youth-participation-romania):
Recreate the psyche of young people in Nigeria through education, reorientation and reconstruction of values.
Create a healthy and friendly social, economic and political atmosphere that encourages inclusiveness, growth, employment and fulfilment
Create more opportunities for youth participation in community life;
Support/attend seminars, conferences and similar events to promote adolescent and youth participation;
Promote successful models of participation to encourage youth to get involved in community life;
Present to youth and parents the benefits, competences and skills they may gain through volunteer engagement;
Reward the best initiatives and decisions involving youth participation at local level as part of project competitions;
Set up research and consultation groups consisting of young people at the level of territorial and administrative divisions (communes, towns, counties);
Increase youth motivation to participate in community life through project involvement;
Create funding opportunities for setting up or improving sustainable youth facilities at local level;
Develop civic education in the formal education system and in communities;
Promote activities of interest for young people and tailor volunteering opportunities to various youth groups;
Improve youth policy regulation, governance, transparency, and accessibility;
Ensure that, at the level of youth centres, student cultural centres and leisure facilities for youth, strategic management is primarily conducted by youth representatives and that executive management is exclusively appointed based on competence and utmost transparency;
Create platforms that enable young people to report cases of abuse, corruption and fraud in public institutions and run campaigns to encourage the use of such platforms/social media;
Measure the impact of volunteering on individual performance and the personal perception of gained experience from the economic agents’ perspective.
Add political education notions to the civic education curriculum in the formal education system;
Actively involve youth-led and youth-serving non-governmental organisations in working to introduce civic and political education in the formal curriculum;
Increase voter turnout among young people with the help of mass media and information points;
Ensure students’ right to vote in the community where they live throughout their studies;
Encourage youth involvement in mock decision-making processes to facilitate their understanding of democratic mechanisms.
Make transparent decisions in the areas that directly affect young people;
Promote the involvement of youth-led and youth-serving non-governmental organisations in the co-management of youth work and programme implementation;
Start and establish a dialogue with young people, allowing all stakeholders to contribute with ideas in order to develop, agree on, implement and monitor youth policies and programmes at all levels;
Promote a structured dialogue between political decision makers and the civil society in order to effectively ensure youth involvement in the decisions that affect them.
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As young people we must eschew violence and the culture that promotes the love of money. We must understand that we can’t afford to become accidental leaders, we must begin to take responsibility for our present and our future by consciously developing capacities, competences and build communities. Leadership is more than the position and sharing. We must start unlearning what our leaders have taught us, we must begin to start learning to build the Nigeria of our dream where brotherhood is not determined by tribe or religion but by our national fraternity of one indivisible Nigeria. God bless you and God bless Nigeria.
Thank you and God bless you!
.Omonigho, PhD, made this presentation at a youth forum.
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