Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bring back the old guys or bring in the new ones?

In his blog, Nigerian Curiosity, Solomonsydelle offers this bit of analysis about the political elite in Nigeria. It's especially appropriate after Yar'Adua's death. The report of Obasanjo's remarks that follow might be prophetic. He did, after all, claim to have chosen Yar'Adua for the presidency.

Nigeria has a habit of recycling political figures. For that reason, it is not abnormal to see a previously important individuals, say from 20 or even 30 years ago, choose to run and then win some form of current political office. In the 2003 Presidential elections, 6 former military/para-military officers and a 1960s leader of the secessionist movement… contended for the office. The eventual winner was Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired general and former military dictator…

[T]he constant reappearance of old political individuals serves to deter younger politically inclined individuals from entering into politics. These younger people are hampered by the fact that they have little name recognition (in comparison to older stalwarts), lack the necessary funding and many times do not have the backing of Nigeria's political godfathers and elite who largely determine what individuals can or cannot run for political office in an area. The implications of this shut-out of young Nigerians and young Nigerian ideas will have significant implications down the long run…

In 2007, then Chair of Nigeria's Central Bank, Charles Soludo, estimated that roughly half of Nigeria's almost 150 million people were 18 years or younger. Additionally, 23 million of Nigeria's young people are reportedly "unemployable", and the educational sector is in shambles as students flee for educations in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Unemployment stands at 28.57% (as of third quarter 2009) and some young people turn to kidnappings, militancy, robbery and even prostitution to care for themselves and their extended families as is the norm in Nigerian culture…

And to add insult upon injury, individuals like former dictator Ibrahim Babangida… asserted, "[b]ecause we have seen signs that [young Nigerians] are not capable of leading this country and so we feel we should help them.  May be they are not given the proper education that is why."...

This disenfranchisement of young Nigerians will deter young Nigerians from using democratic processes to express themselves, possibly leading to their use of violence to get their point across. This is already the case in the Niger Delta…

Nigeria cannot risk that possibility and must take steps to include more of its population in the empowering politics of determining the nation's future. For that to happen, the electorate will likely have to get fed up with all the recycling.

Youths Can Rule Country, Obasanjo Counters IBB
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on politicians in Nigeria to first reform themselves before talking about national reformation…

Obasanjo said he believes in the ability of the younger generation to bring lasting political reforms and sustainable development to Nigeria.

"One thing that is very bright and makes me happy in Nigeria is that the generation that are coming behind are very promising."

Obasanjo's comment came on the heels of a statement credited to former President Ibrahim Babangida that Nigerian youths are incapable of leading the country. Obasanjo, who did not make reference to the statement, hinged his optimism on the ability of Nigerian youths...

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