by James Inedu George
The average span of the best politician elected into office in many democracies without rigged constitutions (Rwanda, Gambia and co come to mind) is eight years. A middle-class civil servant finishes university at 21 or 22 years old, does his National Service for a year and starts to work for the government by 25. If the individual has a stellar career, he would leave the service at sixty-five, after forty-five years of hopefully meritorious service to his father land. You see, he would have seen, barring any complications or coups, five presidents serve out their full tenures in the country.
So, in terms of longevity and continuity, the civil servant is of more importance for the continuance of the nation than the president. The civil servant is difficult to replace and can as such be obstinate in his ideas, the president has no such luck.
We vote presidents based on our personal sentiments, and when we get tired, and enough people share this tiredness, we vote him out. Either way, by virtue of the Constitution, he will leave after a while. The president today has to deal with a country of 200 million people, 774 local governments’ and countless square meters of land. He has 19 consolidated ministries to deal with. Even worse, he doesn’t have a limitless budget nor does he have carte blanche to spend. What’s worse is that he can’t spend his entire tenure focusing on only a single ministry and if he could, he can make the policies but he can’t ensure that these policies are enforced as he wants them through the 774 local governments. He can’t even travel to all these LGAs in his tenure.
The middle-class civil service is as corrupt as the political brass and just as unpatriotic. Everyone keeps looking out for themselves as though life is endless and no one dies. The game is simple. A game of promises. And that’s done with the help of the hungry middle and lower classes. The problem with this is that when a hungry man is promised food he will follow the scent of food until the food is removed from his table then he will begin to clamour for food once more.
So we have a new hero, promising a la Castro, a better life for his people through revolutionary means. He becomes chief, and all the problems of being chief slow him down and the money changes his class. After two years, the people become disenfranchised and there is a need for revolution etc, it’s an endless cycle looping on itself. A loop that ensures that whilst economic figures change, there is no real change for the population below a certain income grade, which is why there are homeless people in America.
In the mid twentieth centuries, at the times when things like colonialism and apartheid held sway, it made sense to gravitate to the nearest man promising a revolution that could carry us out of the misery we found ourselves in. it was a genuine us-against-them situation. Today, however, the ‘them’ is a part of the ‘us’ and it becomes a very tragic response to want to start a revolution. It is a revolution that goes to ego. The Presidency is for older men. Men who aren’t afraid to die for their beliefs, and whose death while tragic will not leave the country in a post-JFK or post Roosevelt situation. Men who can pay their backers with their lives for their ideals or entirely do not need backers to run for office. In short, old men.
And what should the youth do? Innovate. Innovate or die. In the Africa of today, what is needed is true innovation by every individual that merges together to form a cloud of collective good. We do not need political parties, we need innovation collectives. Collectives where the intelligent of the land view problems in groups and solve them and also make a trickle down effect happen for these solutions to filter to the crowd. There are great problems in Africa and these problems can’t really be solved by politics no matter how revolutionary you are. It is collective intelligence that will get us out of this mess.
We need a situation where these innovative collectives use their solutions to build new cities for our future, cities that not only produce food and life goods but ideology for the future. When we can use this intelligence to salvage the lives of our people, then we can discuss politics because no matter who becomes president, especially amongst the youth, it’d be business as usual and the business will at that point have changed radically in the direction progress. You can not force patriotism on a people, instead, change their economics.
These collectives are extremely essential for the future development of Africa because revolution and politics have failed. Even Mandela’s ANC in South Africa is in a crumbling state today, having not achieved even a little of its beautifully written manifesto. Therefore if we let these false progressives and rabble rousers in the name of dissatisfaction or a want for their progress (something that if closely scrutinized ends up being an ego trip) whip us into revolutionary frenzy, we will lose another sixty years. We really do not want for that to happen again.
Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija