Africa Will Be Better Off With Younger Leaders

One prominent question on the lips of most Nigerian youths is, “when is our tomorrow?” As kids, we were often told by our parents and teachers, that the future belongs to us, or the common one, “you are the leaders of tomorrow”. On assembly lines, we sang songs like:

Parents listen to your children,

We are the leaders of tomorrow,

Please pay our school fees,

And give us a sound education.

Almost every Nigerian child of my generation sang that song, it’s still sung in most schools presently, and would most likely still be an anthem for future generations. But is this the reality?  Are yesterday’s children turned today’s youths, the current leaders of our nation and our continent?

In 1999, Olusegun Obasanjo became Nigeria’s leader for the second time at the age of 62, having being a military head of state in 1976. On the 29th of May 2015, Nigeria welcomed a new leader in the person of 72 years old former head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, who vied the seat of the presidency for 11 years. What happened to the younger people who also contested the presidency? Individuals like Sam Eke, age 44, or 46 years old Martin Onovo, a widely acclaimed brilliant petroleum engineer and public affairs analyst.

In a recent meeting with the Nigerian community at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, President Buhari acknowledged that his age might be a limitation to his performance in office. Although he had come out to insist that he is very fit to rule, there is no doubt that Nigeria, and Africa as a continent will be better off with younger leaders.

Most Youthful Continent

Over 60 per cent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35, with ages 15 – 35 over 35 per cent. This makes it the continent with the most youthful population in the world. Most African countries would definitely fare better with a young, like mind who understands adequately the thought process, and needs of the youth. But ironically, Africa has only a few young leaders. Most seats of power are occupied by aged men and dictators who are unwilling to give the younger generation a chance.

Energy to Rule

Every leader needs to possess a high level of mental and physical energy. A popular proverb reads, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’ The position of a leader/president requires hard work, brainstorming, staying up for lengthy, sometimes, late meetings, and quite a number of journeys; this can only be achieved by an energized mind and body. President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been pictured sleeping during important meetings. Mugabe is 91 years old, and has clung on to power for about 35 years. Africa needs young vibrant leaders who can effectively discharge their responsibilities, in service to their countries, not old liabilities who needs to be nudged occasionally during meetings.

Innovative Ideas

Fresh minds produce fresh ideas. Just how creative is the mind of a seventy or eighty year old? Citizens of Cameroon have bemoaned Paul Biya’s three decades in power. It is said that his administration has not produced positive results over the years, as they operate with the same old procedures that do not work.  The 82 years old dictator has turned the country into one oppressed by laws that lock up citizen potentials and inhibit the free flow of ideas. While younger leaders like Kenya’s Kenyatta are often creating avenues to promote innovation.

Tech – Savvy

Social media has undoubtedly become an integral part of administrations around the world. Since it has been discovered to be an easier, faster, and more personal way to reach its citizens, especially the youths, most government have wholly embraced the use of the new media platform. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, one of Africa’s younger presidents is an active twitter user, and the most followed African leader on twitter. According to him, social media is a way of narrowing the distance between leaders and those being led, therefore, African leaders should leverage on the opportunity provided by the platform. Most African presidents have indeed adopted the use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but none is as active and personal as President Paul Kagame.

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