Can an old general lead the young to the future they desire?
The Solutions Ideator
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Not since the June 12 elections have Nigerians been so electrified by the prospect of voting in a general election. Two candidates- President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari are head to head for Nigeria’s most powerful office. Those who love them, truly love them and yet I dare say that the man who will win is the person who emotionally charges the uncommitted.
MKO Abiola charged the nation emotionally in his time, Goodluck Jonathan did in 2011 and it appears with the tears and jubilation after the recently concluded APC primaries, that Buhari is on the path to connecting emotionally with the majority of Nigerians.
Yet the difference between the two men- Buhari and Jonathan is as much as the years between them. One with his history represents all that we may hold responsible for Nigeria’s present predicament- military dictatorship and strongmen over 70 years old; while the other with his relative youth may be said to stand for what Nigerians hope to end- compromise with corruption and indiscipline. These two men seem to embody the complexities of our society, complexities that idealistic young people (representing over 70% of Nigeria’s population) seek to unravel.
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Who among them will lead a young nation to its future? Can an old general lead the young to the future they desire or should we turn to one younger? Can we create a great future if we fail to mend the mistakes of our past? Who is best suited to do this- the old who understand the foundations of our national discordance or the young who with the benefit of time may yet find the loopholes that make a great nation as Nigeria stagger?
It is no easy choice to make.
A new mass of elite have arisen under the Jonathan government yet vast numbers of people have lost their lives and have seen no personal prosperity in his time. The nation has prospered, GDP growth rate being at an average of over 6% in his time yet even more people have fallen into poverty and despair. How can one man be said to have brought so much luck to so many and so much hopelessness to others? Why would so many people seek to change a government that has reinvigorated Nigeria’s private sector and made it a destination for foreign investments?
What is the promise that Buhari offers- a man whose time is close- that Nigerians have not seen in their incumbent president? Why are there tears of joy just because Buhari wins a race to run for the presidency? Could the answers lurk in the desire of the Nigerian masses for institutions as against persons? Why then would they want a former strongman to bring this about? Could the answer be about bringing order to a pathetically disorganized society and enabling even more people make their way under equal rules in the world? Does Buhari offer Nigeria the opportunity to reset its course and end the negative traditions of vice that have crippled her? Are Nigerians seeking a new path by putting faith in a representative of an old generation to right the wrongs of their youth and hand over a great legacy to the future?
Questions abound and answers are difficult. In choosing during the vote, the youth of Nigeria should remember that great nations are built on the hope offered by strong institutions. No matter how successful you are now, you can be more successful in a society that offers equal opportunity to all. Look at the old and young again and choose him who best offers the promise of a future that is more equal for all Nigerians.