We Are The Leaders Of Tomorrow: Call For A Generational Shift
Growing up in Nigeria, I remember vividly in my primary and secondary education saying these words, “We are the leaders of tomorrow”, alongside my classmates. Now years later, a new generation hears the same words, “You are the leader of tomorrow.” This raises the question, when is tomorrow? How long will we continue to anticipate a tomorrow that seems elusive? More importantly, will we be alive to see this tomorrow? The tomorrow that was and is being promised?
These words, "We are the leaders of tomorrow," filled me with optimism and joy, believing that my generation would be the ones to transform the political landscape of Nigeria and to define our destiny. I believe this because I am a member of the Nigerian youth generation. Nevertheless, in the present day, our country is confronted with a harsh reality. Older people who have just refused to let go of their power and, one might add, are power drunk dominate the Nigerian administration. From holding the position of senator, to holding the position of governor, and then returning to holding the position of senator, without having made any discernible progress. It is a never-ending loop that is being kept going by the same group of elderly people, a cycle that hinders progress.
We continue to see that the youths are not prioritized. The dreams and aspirations of young Nigerians continually being crushed by the weight of the reality we are in, a period of being unheard and unrepresented causing frustration and disillusionment. This generation embodies potential, ambition and talent. Alas, the system holds us back because it fails to embrace us. The facts speak for themselves. Despite the fact that the Not Too Young to Run Act was passed in 2018, the number of young candidates vying for political positions in the elections held in 2023, was significantly lower at 28.6% than in 2019, when it reached 34%. There are only a few young people working in various government positions.
Keep in mind what the older generation constantly says, "you must start from the grassroots”, yet what support have they provided to help develop the grassroots? These same grassroots were neglected by politicians who had the opportunity to assist their constituents but chose not to do so because they are more interested in amassing wealth for themselves and their offspring. The grassroots they speak of have not undergone any discernible shifts since they first embarked on their own journey in politics. There is a need for change on every front. Change can start at any level. It can start from the bottom, at the top or the middle. The most essential thing is that we make the decision to act and to change.
We need to ask ourselves if the Nigeria that exists now is an accurate representation of the Nigeria that we want. Because there has been no generational shift in the leadership of Nigeria, there is a clear mismatch between those in power and the goals and aspirations of the country's young people. We are aware that it does not matter how loudly a politician proclaims that they are here to represent the interests of young people. Their body of work stands before them. We continue to observe a lack of innovation and improvement; policies that are no longer relevant, and challenges that are not being adequately addressed. A total lack of accountability. Why are Nigerians thriving outside their country? Why are the number of graduates more than the available jobs? Why do we have children studying in dilapidated government owned schools?
Never has it been more evident that it is definitely time for a generational shift in leadership. A Nigeria where young people are actively involved in politics and where mentorship programs abound to help bridge the gap between generations. A Nigeria where we have more youths vying for political positions. A Nigeria where the electoral reforms and processes ensure a level playing field for all. Where fairness, inclusivity and progress are obvious. A Nigeria where the older generation by aiding this transition leave behind a legacy of prosperity, unity and a harmonious existence of both old and young. Our nation deserves the very best. Our nation deserves leaders who embody these values, leaders who will inspire future generations.
I urge us as a people to continue to call for change. Let these words “You are the leader of tomorrow”, not just remain mere words, but also let us see them become a reality. Together, let us champion a generational shift. Let us encourage and embrace the promise of tomorrow by empowering the youths, engaging and supporting policies that foster inclusivity and advancement. Let us remember that every decision we make today has a bearing for tomorrow. Let us unite to build a Nigeria that generations to come will be proud of. A Nigeria where strength and dignity prevails, where peace and justice reigns. A Nigeria where the promise of tomorrow becomes the reality of today.
Augustina Alegbe is a Student of Political Science and International Relations, Nazarbayev University.