Since the signing of the Not Too Young to Run bill, many young Nigerians of repute have taken the audacious step to contest in elections against prominent political elites of the older generation; though few were elected. Nevertheless, this reinvigorated desire to impact their respective society and the country at large has given a semblance of hope to some that politics in Nigeria is relatively heading in the right direction.
However, given the reality of the Nigerian “dirty” political arena – a Hobbesian nasty and brutish zero-some game – where politicians do not care about the people’s will, the lingering question is whether these young politicians have been vying for the right positions.
This question is necessitated by the incredible pattern of youth candidacy over the years that has seen hardly known newbie politicians, without a strong political background or party, contesting for presidency in a country where the youth are hardly taken seriously and the race is dominated by veteran statesmen with deeply rooted political and economic support structure. Therefore, one cannot but ask if they plan to run the country on their own.
Oddly enough, this is notwithstanding the fact that any serious analysis of recurrent happenings in Nigeria and her political system would reveal that a president without any support in the legislature would find it more than challenging to run the country, not to mention making any reasonable impact. The unrealistic aspiration for the office of the president – with a maximum tenure of 8 years – does not reflect a well-considered decision to serve the people of Nigeria in a position that would bring the dividends of democracy to the people.
Equally, it is worrisome that very few young Nigerian politicians contest for the legislative arm during elections. The legislature, a body representing the opinions and interests of the people in law and policymaking, budget approval and oversight functions, constitutional amendment, and supervision of the executive arm, among other indispensable functions, is where serious-minded political parties of young Nigerians should be focused on. Because by gaining their footing in the legislature, they can actively fight on the side of the people.
The power and the glamour of the executive arm aside, the legislature is the conscience of the government and the organ that holds every other in place; this much is evident in the American and British political systems on which that of Nigeria was modelled. Moreover, significant issues such as the restructuring of the Nigerian polity, among others, can only be addressed by a conscientious legislature that truly represents the people.
Thus, by replacing self-seeking politicians who know next to nothing of the importance of their roles – just as their manifestos are devoid of legislative issues and concerns – young politicians would not only breathe life into people-centred legislation in Nigeria but also take the future of the country into their hands and nurture it for prosperity and posterity.