Demola Rewaju: Wanted: Youth solutions that don’t involve government

by Demola Rewaju

…if Obasanjo’s third term agenda had worked; by now, we’ll have seen greater developments as he’ll be more powerful by longevity than any of his successor…

On a radio program interview few months ago, I was asked if I think the youths of this country are ready to take over leadership at this point and I hesitated only for a moment before answering in the affirmative. I hesitated because for a brief moment, I thought of the twitter critics and hacktivists who for long have dominated the scene of popular opinion and I was unsure about them, but I thought about another set of people and I answered in the affirmative with all conviction in my heart.

The leaders of popular opinion in my generation are only agreed on one thing and that is that government is bad, ineffective and corrupt, but then in the same breath, they want government to spearhead the social change we want which is impossible for two major reasons:

One, you cannot be certain of the character of people that will emerge in a popular election under democracy because politics isn’t about who has the best intentions for the people but who is able to get their permutations and strategy correctly and secondly, in a democracy, government is powerless to effect radical change with the swiftness of a military government and I’ve made this point before:

The greatest periods of our development as a nation came under the military regime partly because we’ve had more years of military rule than democracy but majorly because they have the power (not legitimacy) to impose their personal opinion of development on the country.

Democracy has to take time to build structures and consensus before one forward movement can be made and here, I will never condemn the President for setting up committee after committee on the most mundane issues. If you do not build consensus before taking an action, you will not be able to sustain it and that is the problem with the Petroleum Industry Bill at present.

All stakeholders are agreed on its necessity to move forward but since the days of Obasanjo, it has been impossible to reach a compromise that will leave all stakeholders satisfied. If it were the military government, a decree would be issued and nobody has a say in the matter. The Power (electricity) reforms we see today are built on the foundations of former president Obasanjo‘s foresight in that industry coupled with his vision for privatisation in all sectors to make them effective and productive.

Sometimes I wonder where we’ll be if Obasanjo’s third term agenda had worked; by now, we’ll have seen greater developments as he’ll be more powerful by longevity than any of his successors have been but that would be against the spirit of democracy which as I’ve pointed out calls for consensus.

So it is petty and a little foolish to expect the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to push through every single development idea it has without recourse to the 469 legislators of the National Assembly. And it’s really not about his personality which may just be a tad too laid back but definitely in conformity with democracy: even Buhari will not fare better under this system!

Buhari is used to decreeing development and may have a hard time with the legislative as Obasanjo had so expecting a messiah or hoping for solutions that emanate from a government that has to contend with the legislative arm, socio-political interests, ethnic sentiments and financial stakeholders is futile and will only leave us where we are.

The real hope of this generation lies in three broad categories of people: the first are those of us who are involved in community service as a path to leadership at the lowest level by interventions on behalf of the people at the grassroots by letters to LG bodies and the police for mundane things such as sandfilling bad roads or effecting the release of an old woman’s son who is an Okada rider. It also involves participation in Community Development Associations and helping out with organising street jams or carnivals; that’s how to build trust even if you have to tolerate their excesses. This is community service at the lowest level and I and some of my colleagues who have been activists for years are towing and it is available to anyone regardless of financial status.

The second category are those who have by hardwork and opportunity attained a better life and can do more on a larger scale. They often have to work with government or government contractors to acquire the huge finances they need to make a difference on a zonal or national level. An example is Toyosi Akerele’s RISE initiative or which inspires youths and helps young people with their education.

The third category are those who are undergoing mentorship with government officers to understand how government works and how one can rise through this system without staining one’s image or losing sight of one’s focus. In this category are people like Hadiza Abdullahi, Donald Ekpo, Lai Labode, Banks Omishore and countless others who are involved with government and political party engagement.

These three categories of youths and our counterparts in business are the ones I had in mind when I answered that the youths are ready for leadership, not the demagogues who do nothing more than talk and wait for a coming messiah in government which is what they’ve been doing for the past thirteen years.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. Thought-provoking post. Largely agree with the author's views, especially with the broad and simplified levels of youths involvement in championing solutions to the ills of the society. Good job, sir!

  2. Please does anyone know the author's contact (Twitter or e-mail). I want to meet and talk with him. Please let him know.


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