I have few thoughts deluging the carapace of my mind I want to share with you as you prepare for leadership. No one ever became a great leader merely because he/she was a youth. Though most great leaders attained their strides in their youth, it was their dexterity and capacity to provide solutions that endeared such youthful leaders to their followers. Beyond their strength of youth, they were a shade of comfort for the worries of their people.
Our State, Cross River arguably has a reputation for producing the youngest leaders in the country. But on a whole, this has not translated to the sort of development that is ascribed to youthful imagination. Our State still ranks among the poorest in the country both in GDP and human capital development.
Evidently, this retrogressive trend has taken root so deeply that, in our State today:
If you are intelligent, they will call you over sabi.
If you are self confident, they will say you are arrogant.
If you ask questions that others fear to ask, they will say you don’t have respect.
If you demand for change, they will say you have “winch.”
If you refuse to conform, they will say you are not loyal.
If you attend their meetings and talk tough, they will mark you for dis-empowerment and possible elimination.
If you persist, they come after you with bile.
If you suspend your faculties and follow them like zombies, they will say you are loyal and give you a pride of place.
But never mind; name calling is as old as when the Pope was still an alter boy. The choice is yours to pick a spot.
And I tell you something; if we must have a better Cross River State, we must also build strong systems that will be manned by strong persons who understand the meaning of having a mind of their own and festering thoughts to fruition. We must shift our loyalty from persons to our State.
If we don’t teach our youths to ask questions now, if we don’t groom them to understand that it is by asking questions that the world has made progress, even in politics, we will end up with a recalcitrant and non adventurous future and perpetually lag behind our contemporaries.
We must tell our youths that democracy is not a herd mentality. It is a coin with two sides, a game of opposites. It is the perpetual contestation of these opposites that sustain the force of gravity of democracy.
Let us tell them that any society where everyone claims to be family, where everyone is always fine, without disagreements is a dictatorial society. Let them know that when we disagree, we haven’t become enemies, we are only seeing things from different sides of the prism.
As we approach 2023, the youths should not stand akimbo. They should aspire. They should organize. They should be loud. They should be interested and unrelenting. Those who are not aspiring should look beyond filthy wealthy politicians and support good persons in our communities who have shown willingness and capacity. From the State Assembly to the National Assembly to Peregrino House.
It is by so doing that we will alter the skewed leadership recruitment process in our State and re-energise our politics for top notch performance.
I wish I was still a youth.
Citizen Agba Jalingo is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch and writes from Lagos State.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.