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"Are youths the leaders of tomorrow – or today?"
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"Are youths the leaders of tomorrow – or today?"

Abubakar UmarAfrica needs fresh leadership to solve persistent problems, writes Abubakar Umar, 24, a Correspondent from Katsina in Nigeria, as he argues for youth to be given leadership opportunity.

The youths are the leaders of tomorrow, they say. This saying I have known since infancy and I have been wondering if that’s true in its real sense. 

It might be true of course but I found my mind to be more comfortable with saying it the other way round: the youths are the leaders of today. However it may be, whether the leaders of today or tomorrow, all that matters is the desire for difference from yesterday. 

The time has come for us to mark the eve of the long-awaited tomorrow for the youths to realize their position of leadership in the society. Different generations have come and passed but upon the present lies a greater expectation. 

Having been born and raised in the giant of Africa, I have indeed witnessed the series of leadership my country experienced. It has the highest population in Africa, with a high wealth of natural resources, yet it is swallowed by the forces of anarchy.

The prevalence of poor leadership not just in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa makes the continent backward in terms of development. Poverty has spreads its branches to corners, corruption is deeply rooted, the notions of peace are becoming tales, rights violations have become nothing, freedoms are being threatened, lives are wasted, families destroyed, people dance to the tune of illiteracy, and other problems too numerous to mention. All are the result of bad leadership.

The nagging question however remains, how far do we hope to go with these? It’s been said that “even the devil does not know the mind of a man”. Well! I am not a devil but I can say with bold assurance that deep within peoples’ mind there exists craving for change and willingness to press for it. That desire for change motivated me and guides my conscience as to the justice and appropriateness of my action.

Ever since mother Nigeria got her independence from the British in 1960, there has been a kind of table tennis passage of power within the same circle of individuals, with the same system of administration repeated over and over and over again. We have witnessed a series of military administrations for many of our years of independence. This has left the spirit of the same military existing within our present democracy, with the same authoritarian practices of disregarding law and procedure in operation. I wonder how possibly a change can come when, since independence, the same people  are playing a soccer game of power with Nigerians, even while there are potential youths with creative minds out there. Even the good few leaders are pessimistic about carrying the youths along.

Perhaps I should quote the words of A.P Giannini (1870 – 1949), as saying: “I leave everything to the young men. You’ve got to give youthful men authority and responsibility if you’re going to build up an organization. Otherwise you’ll always be the boss yourself and you won’t leave anything behind you.”

I believe the call is now! Let the youths be allowed to participate at all level of policy and decision-making for a great and healthy democracy, and as well to save the future of our establishments. As Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) put it, “Young men are fitter to invent than to judge; fitter for execution than for counsel; and fitter for new projects than for settled business.” 

photo credit: International Information Program (IIP) via photopin cc

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About me: I am a Nigerian born and hail from Katsina. I am a lawyer by profession and currently into active legal practice. 
I have keen interest in knowing the activities surrounding us both within national and international scenes. I am a member of ‘Taking It Global’ a network of young people working towards tackling global challenges, and presently am a student of the International Institute For Global Leadership (IIGL), an Internet based Leadership Institute.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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