TOO OLD TO RUN

‘’. Sorry, I won’t support you because you are young,’’

The Governor of California, Jerry Brown is 79 years; he was their Governor in the 70’s before making a comeback during 2010 mid-term elections- three decades later! Brown inherited a budget deficits of over 26 Billion Dollars and Public Education system that was probably the worst in the whole United States. California had witnessed close to two decades of rots in governance and needed a new direction, in Nigeria, we would have gunned for a new fine face and a man below 50 or in his early 50’s; California picked a near-octogenarian, and the results have been wonderful. From Clean energy policies; to Public Water Supply; Building of Modern Speed Train; Stabilization of Public Education System and so on. The State did not need a young Governor; but a new direction. It came from a man that is in his 70’s. Jerry Brown cut Public Sector Programmes in California in a manner that one would doubt if he’s a democrat; he knew the state had to swallow some bitter pills; Brown ceded powers to the local government something he opposed during his term as Governor in the 70’s.

Back home in my country; there is this clamour by my generation to serve by virtue of our age alone. This agitation was enhanced recently when the 8th Senate and House of Representative decided to amend the constitution, and reduced the age restrictions on when one can run for public offices. I celebrated as well, but with caution. Why? About a month later, the youngest Governor in the country, Yahaya Bello, of Kogi State declared a one-day Public Holiday to celebrate the return of President Buhari from his Medical Trip to London- I am not wishing Buhari death like most of my critics think, but wasting a working day is not consistent with the best practices today. Bello, is 42 and I am sure a lot of us celebrated his ascent to power because of his youthfulness; his actions are not those of a modern leader. The Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru Abubakar, is using meager state’s fund to build Mosques in a part of the country that has serious challenges in areas like Education and teenage marriages; the later comes with serious issues for mothers and their babies. Badaru, is 53! The Governor of Ebonyi is about spending 2.5Billion Naira on a State’s Ecumenical Centre, with all the Cathedrals and Religious Facilities in Abakiliki and environs, a 53 years old Leader and the State Assembly thinks a Church is the most important thing in the only state that is still classified as Educational Less Develop (ELDS) in the whole South-East- Less I forget, Nyesom Wike built one as well to celebrate his second year in office. Senator Ben Ayade is running a near-socialist system in Cross River that troubles me, he has some noble ideas; but I am surprised that a leader in the 21st century feels Government should own businesses, over half a century after advance democracies initiated privatization. Rochas Okorocha took this madness to a new level last week when he built a stature of President Jacob Zuma in Owerri, Capital of Imo State; Zuma has destroyed South Africa to a level that Africa’s most industrialized country now experience regular Public Power Failures, and Corruption stories that are synonymous with banana republics like Nigeria. I told my friends years ago, that sometimes I wish Mandela can rise from his grave and run a sword via Zuma’s heart before returning to his resting place. The combine ages of Rochas, Ayade, Bello, Wike, Badaru, and Umahi is marginally below 50!

The above stories aren’t as pathetic like the scenario I am moving into right now; my generation of drummers! Folks between 20–35years. They are the foot soldiers of our leaders and are learning from these men. A smart and intelligent guy that falls within this age range wrote a piece recently asking for the Senatorial Seat in Northern Cross River to be Zone to his local government (Ogoja) for the sake of equity and fairness, I visited the thread on daily basis without participating. I asked if this guy is aware that his local government don’t need senate seat to develop; if he’s aware that the person that might get the seat if it’s zone to his LGA might not give him that PA appointment that motivated the write-up; nor even give him a Federal Parastatal Job since he has his immediate family to settle first. My generation has not shown anything new, the problem of Nigeria is not the age of our leaders, and we are yet to understand that a man that shares different faith and tribe from us, can make a better society compare with the man from your village. We are recruited to defend impunity and violence; we are recruited to maim political opponents of our masters; we murder each other on daily basis because of fault lines that makes no sense; we are yet to see education as a thing of the soul, but rather a means to our next meal ticket; we support agents of mediocrity like zoning. In this mental slavery, we have not been able to access best practices from around the globe, we are products and agents of the status-quo, and our only credential on why we should be elected is on the premise of the date we were born. Brethren, that is not enough. We must embrace issues such as growth in the real economy (private sector); we must encourage creation of tech hubs; we must encourage introduction of serious coding into our school curriculum; we must support leaders that are ready to reduce the size of government; we must support leaders that are ready to reduce regulatory agencies; we must support leaders that are ready to stop playing politics with maternal and child health; and most especially, we must support leadership that values economic growth over multiple taxations/levies; we must embrace leaders that are ready to called Drug Addiction and Cultism the right names. It’s a collective call, we must raise the quality of our public conversations; ethnicity must be replaced with reason if we want to forge a new Nigeria. The enlightenment period that transform western civilization (europe), relegated religion (the church) into the background; allowing Caucasians embraced reason and science; the results were tremendous.

Jerry Brown at 79, is pursing programs that are transforming California beyond Silicon Valley and Hollywood taxes, back home in Nigeria, Governors are building religious sites and state-owned businesses with youths as their image makers and street influencers; some are expanding government nominal rolls; all in a country that wish to join the list of emerging nations. Our biggest problem since 1999 is not Asorock, but the quality of our 36-Governors. We are quick to celebrate Macron and other young leaders in the western world, using their examples to forge our argument, without going beyond the surface. I won’t support you because you are young, just like I am aware that the French electorates didn’t vote Emmanuel Macron because of his age, he’s was voted to checkmate the rise of the far-right, an ideology that scare the French!

We need to do some soul-searching, and asked ourselves what we have to contribute; we must raise the quality of our public conversation; we must see elections as a referendum on those that have been holding positions leading into the election cycle; and pay close attention to the promises new candidates are making. Then, we will be ready to serve. For now, I won’t vote or campaign for you because of your age!

Gov Yahaya Bello Dancing in the Centre Depite owing over 12 months in salaries