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  YES, THEY ARE.

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The flood of time has swept the Students’ Union elections unto the shores of distant memory. The fortnight-long period has now become another chapter in the history book of our great university. Fortunately, it escaped the predatory claws of controversy unlike last year’s edition. While it has not left questions about its credibility, the entire process has led this court to ponder upon the youths and their readiness to take up the mantle of leadership at the national level.

A youth, according to the UN, is anyone between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four. However, for the sake of contextual focus, let us employ the more appropriate 18-35 age bracket approved by the Federal Government. In most developed countries of the world, the youth are a privileged lot who benefit from the success of their nations’ past heroes. Talk about Nigeria and you have a very different story entirely. Nigerian youths are an endangered species who atone for the sins of their fathers. They suffer for the mistakes made repeatedly by the aged kleptomaniacs whose buttocks seem to be in perpetual romance with seats of power. Rather than be dominated by these woes, the youth have refused to back down. Their revolutionary spirits have been awakened and have come to challenge the status quo. Nigerian youth have learnt to take their destinies into their hands, striving to make their world better than they met it. Increasingly, we now see Nigerian youth get involved in matters of national concern.

We need to look no further to find instances of youths making progress in their societies. In this great university, Olawuni Mustapha recently championed a motion for the counting of votes publicly in halls. This is a bold-faced step to chop off the intruding fingers of the school administration. This mirrors the resilience of the youths and their unease with the way things are being run. Political figures like President Muhammadu Buhari and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo have been involved in running the affairs of the nation for decades, starting from the days when they were youths themselves. We cannot continue to let octogenarians control our lives. They have been there for too long and it seems, under their rule, the country does not have enough fuel to power its vehicle of progress. What Nigeria truly needs now is people with intellectual legerity and soundness – the youths.

The tertiary educational sector is swarming with youths who are thirsting for education. Year after year, in their hundreds of thousands, they seek admission. Their ambition steadily swells like the rifle of an aphrodisiac teenage boy. They are dedicated to the development of their minds and, in recent history, Nigerians like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Phillip Emegwali have used their education to make their country proud in the days of their youth.
Just when the country was in peril and on the verge of being disgraced by the notorious Boko Haram sect, brave Nigerian youths enlisted for the army and punctured the pride of the terrorists with steamy bullets and grenades. To now say there are no patriotic Nigerian youths would be to be to unfairly myopic towards their hard work and dedication.

My opponent may feel compelled to argue that the youths are just as corrupt as those currently in power and are therefore unfit to rule. But to do that would be to further the agenda of the sit-tight Old People’s Club in government offices. It is the kind of fallacious sentiment encouraged by the pot-bellied democratic tyrants who seek to keep the mutiny against them to a minimum. Simply because some of them might not be saints does not in any way negate the fitness of the entirety of youths. After all, it takes only a handful of right-thinking youths, given enough influence, to change the world for good. The example laid down by Olawuni Mustapha will forever affect this campus and that is a glimpse into the power of the youths. Even Obasanjo himself once said, “Youth constitute Nigeria’s only hope for a real future”. So, instead of butchering the confidence of the youths on the altar of hypocrisy, our energy should be directed towards encouraging the youths and aiming to see the good they have to offer.

If you are anything like me, you would be tired of the phrase “leaders of tomorrow”. My dearest lords, this “tomorrow” does not exist in an otherworldly realm, neither is it light years away. It is here and now! The current rulers have done their part and failed, it is time to look elsewhere – in the youths!

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  NOPE, SAYS WHO…

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Let him that would move the world, first move himself ~ Socrates

PRELUDE: On Wednesday the 9th of September, something ordinary but nonetheless momentous happened in the University of Ibadan. The so-called Council of Kingmakers finally shattered the long silence by officially declaring Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka as the 12th Vice Chancellor of the university. It is on this note that I shall start off by cheering the geologist for trumping 12 others to rise to the Vice-Chancellery. I do not believe 12 is a lucky number, so I would ascribe no propitiousness of the numerical circumstances that surround the whole exercise. However, I hope that he will put his profession to use while aiming at extracting the diamond long buried in the lumpy ore called University of Ibadan. I hope he will turn out to be an ABLE ABEL bailing us out of our hostile but labile label; an ABEL who, true to his name, will be willing to sacrifice for the welfare of staff and students though some persons may dislike it. It is sad however that his initials give little room for the creation of a resounding, earth-shaking acronym like that of the incumbent. So I’ll just call him Able Abel, one in whose hands lies our fate for the next 5 years. You are able, please be agreeable too.

MeLords, I apologise for arriving late to the day’s session. I was inescapably caught up in traffic along the V.C.’s lodge. Not to further waste time, I am today saying that no frank observer of the just-determined Students Union elections would conclude at the end of the whole saga that we the educated youth of Nigeria are ready for leadership positions. And by leadership positions I do not mean offices such as ‘floor representative’, ‘class governor’ or ‘group leader’. I mean real positions where real matters of great significance are tackled.
I accept. I accept the truism that states that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. But I accept only because of the obvious fact that life is in a state of flux and a donor of breast milk today was once a donee of same. I do not accept with the conviction that the present youth are, in point of fact, ready to assume any real mantle of leadership. That is not so. I have as testimony the Students’ Union election which will be ushering in the Illuminating Changes Team.

I may not have had sufficient contact with most of the aspirants to give a sweeping generalisation. But be that as it may, the platforms provided by the press and manifesto nights are more than enough for anyone to weigh the worth of the aspirants. Take for instance; one who was not pre-informed would have innocently mistaken the Trenchard hall for a battleground during the press night. This is due to the grammatical homicides arbitrary launching of ballistic blunders. At large, the audience simply enjoyed a free entrance into a quasi-stand-up comedy. Imagine an aspirant for the Public Relations Office, solidly backed by his hall of residence, saying; ‘now in Idia hall, even the Block I is not exist!’ And that is just a tip of the iceberg. Another one, when asked how she is going to stand her ground in case of non-cooperation, she gleefully replied with the words; ‘I dunno!’ I’m glad none of these two turned out victorious in the end. Many of the candidates were so directionless you’d think they applied to contest while under duress. Ask them what solution they have to proffer to some snag, and it is committee this, committee that. Who has the time for that?

Moving on, several other gaffes were committed also at the manifesto night. We found leading aspirants not keeping to time. Perhaps they intended to run the students union as though it were their personal kitchenette. Aside from this, many also came and embarrassed themselves in public due to their rock bottom confidence and poor grasp of rhetoric. I wonder how such persons can stand tall before the ‘almighty’ Vice Chancellor in representation of student interests. They simply can’t. A person whose diction is nowhere near that of the professors at the steering wheel will no doubt turn out as a docile yes man.

Furthermore and as a final point, I would like to draw attention to an incident that transpired not quite long ago in Sultan Bello hall. We heard of a certain White-Blood Cell who rather than protect the body from infections ironically was the one wreaking havoc everywhere. He was apprehended for stealing. And those close to him said such operations were habitual for him. Despite that, he had all effrontery to raise his filthy hand to show interest for the office of the Assistant General Secretary. How will our treasury not go astray since it is kakistocrats such as him who show interest in governance?

In closing, I shall call the Yorubas to the witness dock. They do say in their ever-profound sagacity that ‘okere ti yoo gun igi ogede, eekanna re yoo mu sasa’ (i.e. a squirrel that would climb the plantain stem must have sharp paw nails). MeLords, it is as clear as day that the youth of the day, ably represented by student political figures, do not have nails at all let alone sharp ones. How then can they climb the stem to leadership?

CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.

ARE TODAY’S YOUTH READY FOR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?
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