When the biblical Isaac recognized the deception of Jacob, he wisely demanded that Jacob should come close so he could feel him, but the goat skins which Jacob used to make his hands appear like the hands of Esau. This made him confused. Apparently left with no option, he exclaimed, “The voice of Jacob, but the hands are that of Esau.”
Analyzed from the foregoing biblical scenario, many Nigerians, particularly the youths, are literarily perceiving the voice of gerontocracy and feeling the hairy hands of democracy. The reason for the foregoing view cannot be far-fetched when seen from the prism of the fact that democracy which ensures popular participation by both the young and old across world democracies has somewhat been hijacked and jeopardized by the elders.
Given this retrogressive development, it now looks as if Nigeria is operating a gerontocratic system of government whereas it is not. It is so sad that Nigerian youths have completely been excluded from participating in the on-going political dispensation that ought to be an all-embracing and participatory in nature. According to an online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, “A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule in which an entity is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population.”
Without any modicum of exaggeration, the foregoing definition aptly captures our contemporary political realities. To my view, if allowed to continue it would unarguably not augur well for the future development of the country given the fact that the youths of today would be the key players of such political milieu that is bound to be anachronistic.
To be sincere with the readers of this piece, in as much as one is not passionately advocating that elderly leaders should quit politics and leadership positions, the truth remains that the ideas they have contributed so far toward the overall growth of the nation coupled with the implementations of programs and policies they have participated in across the country are unarguably what brought us, both young and old, to this sorry pass. To me, it is expedient that the youths be given ample opportunities to participate in the present democratic dispensation as quite a number of them have distinguished themselves as good leaders in their various callings. In fact, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind the seeming conspiracy of the elders in shutting the youths out from the on-going political process.
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There is no denying the fact that every vision needs visionaries that are willing to follow the cause. Without any sense of exaggeration, Nigerian youths are visionaries that have so far shown willingness to follow the nation’s democratic cause. They have demonstrated this willingness through the obvious collective commitment they are presently exhibiting in diverse sectors of the economy.
Many youths have demonstrated enormous energy to achieve results in the information, communication and technology (ICT) sub-sector of the economy as well as in other sectors that the knowledge gap between them and the older generation of Nigerians is unarguably obvious. Though the truth may be bitter, there are facts on how excellently Nigerian youths have been showcasing their gifts and talents in diverse sectors of the economy. If I may ask, why is it becoming so difficult for gerontocrats that have outlived their usefulness on the political nay leadership stages to admit the fact that they have reached the end of their tether and gradually begin to quit the stage for the youths.
Each time we read the newspapers and magazines, we are more often than not inundated with personalities that are addressed as “ex this”, “ex that”, “former this, former that”, as if they are indispensable. The situation is so bad that one may conjecture that a cabal that specializes in recycling leaders within available political positions now exists.
We are tired of seeing the same faces of leaders for the past 10 years. If the spade should be called a spade in this context, most of these leaders are no more innovative to be trusted in making any meaningful contribution toward the development of the country. For God sake, most of these leaders that are far above 60 years of age may not be alive in the next 50 years when most of today’s youths would be reaping the dire consequences of the evil seeds of ineptitude and cluelessness that are literarily being sowed today.
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If I may ask again, why is the obvious giftedness of today’s youths not maximized by engaging them in the on-going democratic process so as to save them from further hardships in the future when the present generation of gerontocrats may no more be at the corridors of power? One of the knotty aspects of this issue is that most gerontocrats that have been in government for decades now cannot deny the fact that with their professionalism, expertise and the monies earned so far from government service that they can create jobs for the youths by venturing into private businesses.
But the truth is that they prefer to make cheap and unaccountable wealth from the corridors of power at the expense of millions of Nigerians than making it through their own sweat. Rather than help in creating jobs themselves, they are more often than not seen at political rallies and fora singing the mantra of “job creation”. Most of them are so selfish that they are more concerned in sending their children to Ivy League institutions of learning in Europe and America to the detriment of other Nigerians that are not in any privileged position.
To me, for the country to become more economically, socially and politically adaptable for the youths, our present leaders should see the country as the bigger picture while carry out diverse political activities by each passing day. They should stop seeing the country as a gold mine. They should remember that the present generations of younger Nigerians still hope to see a better Nigeria they would be proud to call their own. Like the biblical Isaac, many youths are confused over the sound of voices that the on-going democracy is literarily emitting.
Without any modicum of doubt, it is that of gerontocracy. It is deafening that all political watchers can perceive. But we are often deceived that we are under democratic dispensation. Viewed from all ramifications, it is more of gerontocracy than democracy. Finally, it is not an exaggeration to say that many political watchers are not even as confused as the biblical Isaac, given the fact that the political landscape of the country is presently manifesting the features of plutocracy (government by the rich), kleptocracy (government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed) and on paper, democracy. Those in government should please make democracy less ambiguous, more pluralistic and embracing in such a way that the youths should no longer be shut out from the scheme of things as the future undeniably belongs to them. Yours faithfully, Isaac Asabor
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