By James Ogunjimi
Maybe I’m being pessimistic – it’s my right to be anyway, especially since it concerns a country I was born and live in – but I don’t see the victory in this bill.
While it is not Uhuru yet and it may be too soon to erect an altar and declare Ebenezer seeing the bill still needs ascent from 2/3 of the Federal House of Representatives and 24 state House of Assemblies, it is safe to assume that the bill will most likely pass as no one – not even the bad boy Senate President, Saraki – wants to be seen as enemy of the Youths seeing that 2019 is not too far off.
It is very easy to make beautiful speeches about how this is an idea whose time has come and how sheer determination and unrelenting doggedness brought us here, but those who are not detached from reality will see this for what it is: a realization that came too late on the part of the ruling class.
This is not the ruling class bowing to the ‘will’ of the youths. This is not the youths forcing the hand of the Senate. How many times has that failed? If that worked, President Buhari would not still be in the UK and Senate President Saraki would not still be Senate President.
This is the ruling class realizing – even if the realization came too late – that this is a perfect opportunity to maintain their death grip on the nation’s politics.
Again, maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t see the success of the bill as anything but a license for the older politicians of the ruling class to hand over the baton of leadership to their children.
There are so many unrealistic expectations that must be tempered in our quest to have sanity in our country. This is one. In Nigeria for instance, democracy and elections are just terms. What happens during electioneering is the sharing of money and enthronement of certain persons by political godfathers.
It’s all about money. The one who has the money gets to sponsor the candidate. You should visit election conventions of NANS and NYCN to have an idea of what this looks like. I have.
Now, what the success of a bill like this means is that rather than fund the electoral campaign of so-called brilliant youths that can change the face of Nigerian politics, political godfathers in the ruling class that have had to smuggle their children into juicy positions as PA, SSA or Commissioners now have constitutional backing to sponsor and fund their wards into elected positions.
What this means is that while elections will have a semblance of democracy, in reality, it will be the father – a moneybag who has the money to wield and spend – handing over the baton to his child and ensuring that child gets maximum votes and support by using money to make people fall in line.
I salute the passion and idea behind this, especially from the leaders, but it’s an idea that will not favor young people, at least not yet and maybe not ever. If/When this bill passes; I see a drastic reduction in the number of ‘ordinary’ young people in elected positions across the country and an increase in the number of children of political strongmen and women in politics. I hope I’m wrong though. Time, as they say, will tell.