By the late Prof Pius Adesanmi.
Start at councillor?
That is why a man like former presidential candidate Omoyele Sowore could have an undergraduate degree from the University of Lagos, a masters degree from a US Ivy League, Columbia University, teach as a contract lecturer and contract instructor in the same Ivy League University for more than 10 years, while building a global media brand, one of Africa’s first online media brands that CNN and Al Jazeera reference for Nigerian news, run a parallel career as a global social movement leader who is solicited annually by social movement organizations in South Africa, Canada, Europe, Senegal, etc, and be dismissed so casually by the youth as inexperienced and deserving only of starting as a Councillor.
If the youth think that all there is to Sowore is student unionism and Sahara Reporters (and what by the way is wrong with that?), it is of course Sowore’s fault and the fault of those who rolled out his candidacy. It is your responsibility to market your multifaceted self and cosmopolitan skills and experiences to the electorate.
I told a youth yesterday that Omoyele Sowore has been a contract lecturer at Columbia University for the past ten years and his jaw dropped. He had no idea Sowore combined an academic career with running Sahara Reporters.
So, somebody who does not have what it takes to stand before pupils at Okokomaiko Community Development Primary School will run to social media and dismiss a Columbia University lecturer as inexperienced.
What I am getting at is the mental block which has prevented the youth from even examining Sowore’s and other youth candidacies beyond knee-jerk and default setting rejection.
You are not experienced!
You are not ready!
Start as a local government councillor!
They are saying the same of Fela Durotoye and even Kingsley Moghalu who was born in 1963!
That is the rote, the cliche that Obasanjo and Babangida taught them to repeat like the colonial chant, apes obey, when the two generals were in the youth demonizing phase of their careers.
Nobody will help you, Nigerian youth, overcome this mental block. You have to overcome it yourself by thinking of other ways in which it affects you.
Consider this scenario:
If you hear that one of you, children of ordinary peeps, has an appointment somewhere in Nigeria’s technocracy or bureaucracy, you are up in arms screaming he is too young or inexperienced.
Then the elite will do the kind of corrupt hiring they have been doing recently in places like the Central Bank, etc. They will parachute in their 20 something year-old children who have only just graduated from Britain or America. In fact, you saw your Governor or Senator or Minister beaming at the graduation ceremony in London or Washington only yesterday because their aides posted the photos on Facebook and Twitter. You even congratulated your “amiable Governor” or “amiable Senator” and abused those asking if he traveled to his child’s graduation ceremony at public expense.
Then that same boy or girl who graduated yesterday is parachuted in and offered a senior position at CBN or any of the Federal parastatals like they have been doing with breathtaking intensity under Buhari.
You scream about nepotism.
You scream about favoritism.
I have never heard you scream that those appointed children are too young or inexperienced.
You have been conditioned to apply that cliche only to yourselves and fellow children of the poor.
Examine and scrutinize these youth candidacies.
Stop apes obey, default setting dismissal.
*Pius Adesanmi was a Nigerian-Canadian who died alongside 156 other passengers in the ill fated Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019. The article was written by him in 2018 before Nigeria’s recently held general elections