Making a case for the child-governor

By Muhammad Ajah

Some governors in Nigeria have developed the initiative to allow a child of their own choice to preside over the affairs of the state for a few hours of a day. The child, who is normally selected, by the state governor, for his excellent performance especially in the academic circle, will be allowed to exercise the constitutional powers of the governor for the period. Few governors are noted for this gesture and they seem to enjoy it every year. But it is observed that some governors have seen no importance to it and therefore have never had a child sit on their seat.

This initiative, though believed by some critics to have merits and demerits, is not only commendable but it should be encouraged, sustained and expanded to some extent. The one singular thing that can pose a challenge to it by good citizens is its limitation to the children of the kitchen cabinet members of the governor or their relatives and political friends.

No doubt, it is the intention for every initiative that accords it a natural acceptability. There is no gainsaying the fact that the wholesome aim of this is to expose the child to the beatitude of politics especially the unique one that is prevalent in Nigeria. The child is also expected to know some things about the workings of government, get acquainted with the signing of documents and contracts if need be and feel the wholeness in a leader of a domain. The child may receive delegates from certain sectors, hold programmed talks with business partners of the state and even preside over an exco-meeting.

By this, the child is directly encouraged to feel the challenges in leadership. He is spurred to work hard, to learn, to read and write, as well as to respect his fellow compatriots. He is assured that education is the right path to success and that his efforts can make him great in future. He therefore prepares his mind to attain what his parents and the society in which he dwells expect of him.

The greater result of this may be the enhancement of his love for diligence, patriotism, dedication, humanity and sincerity. But this is on one hand. The dark part of this is the exposure of the child to the extravagance in governance. He is shown that there is money in the government houses and that to be a governor or a popular politician in Nigeria even for a few hours was a path to richness. There could be a latent invitation to greed, self aggrandizement and corruption.

However, there is hardly a trend that has all good without bad sides and the reverse. The most significant in this case is that children should be prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow. Moreover, it is axiomatic that the child is a future leader, a leader of whatever magnitude – in the family, in business, in politics and governance, in the religious sphere and any other life endeavour. So there should be caution in building up the child especially in a society like ours where tribalism, nepotism, graft, civil disturbances and wickedness still pervade.

There is need to extend this gesture to the local government levels and the presidency. The need for the legislative and judiciary arms at all levels of government should also mimic this trend. We can have a child-president, a child senate president, a child speaker, a child LGA chairman and a child councilor. We can have a child chief judge and so on.

The qualities of the child to be sworn into any of these positions for any period of time which can be extended to over one day according to the discretion of the person handing over for the moment should include the following: not a relative of the president, governor, LGA chairman etc.; not from the political allies or business partners of the person to hand over. It is preferable if the child can to be from the remote areas and selected by a child parliament.

The duration of each office can differ as follows: President – three hours, Governor – one day, Senate President – three hours, Federal Speaker – three hours, State speaker – one day, Courts – one day and the child should judge over imaginary cases, Local Government Area chairman – two days and councilors – three days. The child should be paid all the entitlements of the person who stepped aside for him. He can be taken around the city on tour of certain government projects and he can advice the people. He can even hold press interviews and make a guided nationwide or statewide broadcast.

More importantly, since it should be a yearly event, the children should be guided to hold non-violent, free and fair elections. There should be guided to campaign, contest, vote and be voted for.

As earlier said, many governors have never allowed a child to sit on their executive seat. They may think it is a waste of resources or inspiration in vain. Although there is always the fear of the unknown, a child could be a direct source of success to one's life. In our setting, some people are so selfish that they would not allow any good for others. But they can always preach the gospel that one should love for others what one loves for oneself.

Well intended, well planned and well executed, making children to feel the wholeness of being a leader is quite commendable. Each state can create its system for the children in this regard. A state, for instance, can make a child- governor at every significant occasion especially that which is unique to the state. For a child-president, senate-president, and federal speaker, it can be part of the merriments for the Independence Day. This part can be on 30th September of every year. For the child to qualify, there should be a children-non-party congress in Abuja whereby a single representative will emerge from each state. The representatives of the thirty six states and Federal Capital Territory will vote for six representatives from a selected geo-political zone for the winner to emerge. This can be done between 28th and 29th of September.

This suggestion could raise the feeling that it would be a waste of resource. But how much can this cost if compared to the monies that are wasted on trivial pursuits which neither have direct and positive impact on the citizens nor portray us as a people with futuristic hopes and expectation. No sane mind will question whatever is done to build up a child in the best manner. Our children are our future. It is hard to find a man who wishes his child failure in life. Let my child be better than I am has always been the prayers of good and responsible parents. Apart from the belief in fate, it is the way we shape our child that they follow. Again, apart from circumstances and societal interference, our children are our weapons for future growth.

It is believed that the fear of trial has been the beginning of failure. Many things are experimented in many ways to reach a solution. If this is attempted, its results could help in many ways. It can be modified and every Nigerian child will want to be a leader and therefore toe the path to it.

Whatever of these are acceptable, there must be gender sensitivity. Our children must be made to understand that there is little or no difference between a boy and girl in life pursuit. I cannot remember if there has been a child-girl-governor. Parents must give equal training to the female child; after all there is a sound statement that a female child is a nation and that whatever a man can do, a woman can do it ever better.

When we prepare our children in their early stage to be Nigerians in the true sense of what it purports, we can begin to hope that one day our failures will come to an end. We can begin to beat our chests that we will one day have a child who will liberate our blessed nation.

Ajah, a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance writes from FCT, Abuja ([email protected])