Concurring With Sowore’s Assertion On The Swearing-In Of 44-Year-Old Faye As Senegalese President

By Isaac Asabor

There is no denying the fact that African countries have for decades been led by gerontocrats, and which refer to members or leaders of a state, society, or group governed by old people. In other words, the political lexis, Gerontocrats, describes people who hold power or influence due to their advanced age. The lingo is often associated with a form of social organization in which a group of old men or a council of elders dominates or exercises control. For instance, a village’s aged leaders might be portrayed as dictatorial gerontocrats. So, in essence, a gerontocracy is a system where the elderly play a significant role in decision-making and governance.

Without any scintilla of hyperbole, the foregoing political features unarguably paints a graphic picture of the composition of governments that prevail across virtually all African countries; even though they always claim it is ademocracy where equal representation of the peopleought to be sacrosanct.

To buttress the foregoing view, it is expedient to recall that African countries have indeed seen a trend of long-serving leaders, many of whom are or were elderly. In fact exploring this phenomenon shows that late President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe, despite being very old, fragile and senile, held on to power as if other Zimbabwean leaders were not in existence, and he was unarguably autocratic. Ostensibly not minding the fact that an average life expectancy in Zimbabwe was 45 years in his days in Zimbabwe, Mugabe held power until his death in 2019 at the age of 95.

Other African Leaders who held on to power despite their old age were former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by the military in 2011, and passed away in Cairo at the age of 91. He spent three decades in office before a popular uprising swept across Egypt.

Worst of all, Paul Biya, the second president of Cameroon,who was born on February 13, 1933, and as of now 91 years old has been long in office, thus making him the second-longest-ruling president in Africa and the oldest head of state in the world. Still in a similar vein, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the former Tunisian president, was 83 years old when he passed away in Saudi Arabia on September 19, 2019. Ben Ali served as the second president of Tunisia from 1987 to 2011. His rule ended during the Tunisian revolution, which led to his overthrow and subsequent exile. Also, Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya, met his end on October 20, 2011 after the Battle of Sirte. At that time, he was 69 years old.

Other gerontocrats that came out of Africa as leaders include José Eduardo dos Santos, the former president of Angola, who passed away on July 8, 2022. He was 79 years old at the time of his death. Also, Denis SassouNguesso, the Congolese politician and former military officer, who is still alive, as of now, is 80 years old. He has held the presidency of the Republic of the Congo since 1997, with a previous term from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as president, he led the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) for 12 years. Despite facing opposition and challenges, he has maintained his position of power for several decades.

To sadly recall again in this context is President YoweriKaguta Museveni of Uganda, who is 79 years old. He has been the ninth and current president of Uganda since 1986. His long tenure has been marked by various political and social developments, including constitutional amendments and controversies. Despite criticism, he was reelected to a sixth term in January 2021.

Fortunately enough, there seems to be a beacon of hope for other African countries, particularly since the inauguration of Bassirou Diomaye Faye as Senegal’s new president, which has ignited a sense of hope and inspiration across the African continent. Without any iota of exaggeration, his emergence is unarguably a beacon of optimism.

The reason for the foregoing view cannot be farfetched as it is obvious that his youthful leadership at just 44 years old represents a new generation of leaders. His ascent from relative obscurity to the highest office in Senegal demonstrates that young politicians can make a significant impact on governance and policy.

The promise which his presidency holds cannot be dismissed with mere wave of the hands as his anti-corruption stance is crystal clear for his people to understand. It is expedient to note that Faye campaigned on promises to combat corruption within the government. Without a doubt, his commitment to transparency and accountability is already resonating with citizens who are tired of corrupt practices.

Not only that, he promised to prudently manage the country’s natural resource. It is worthy to note at this juncture that Senegal is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas. Faye’s pledge to better manage these resources for the benefit of the country is a hopeful sign for economic growth and development.

Given the fact that Senegal faces high youth unemployment rates, like many African nations, Faye’s victory reflects the will of young people who are frustratedwith the lack of opportunities, and his administration’s policies may address this pressing issue.

Most significant of his emergence as Senegalese president, and vicariously a sign of hope for other African countries is the uncommon temerity he has since his campaign and inauguration been exhibiting by consistently challenging colonial legacy. His stance, no doubt, has been earning him kudos as critics view France’s historical relationship with Senegal as exploitative. In fact, Faye’s presidency symbolizes a break from the past, signaling that Senegal is asserting its independence and sovereignty.

Again, the beauty of its all is the stability and democracywhich his administration signifies. It is germane to opine at this juncture that despite challenges that Senegal has maintained a reputation as a stable democracy, and that it is against this backdrop that Faye’s election reaffirms the country’s commitment to democratic processes andpeaceful transitions of power.

In summary, Faye’s rise to the presidency represents hope for positive change, not only in Senegal but also as an example for other African nations striving for effective governance and progress

At this juncture, it is expedient to concur with the statement made by the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the 2023 election Omoyele Sowore. In his comment, Sowore has faulted the attitude of young Nigerians to politics

As gathered by this writer on Channels Television’s Tuesday’s edition of Politics Today, Sowore said, “Our young people are concerned with doing what I call tag along. They are more interested in becoming special assistants to governors or senators.” He added, “I have not seen that clear aspiration on the part of our young people to become leaders.”

Sowore who spoke from New Jersey in the United States (USA), said Nigerian youths need to become more daring in politics to replicate what happened in Senegal.

“You cannot be young, mission-driven, and a visionary and go and hide your bushel under some of these old people who have no idea of how to even operate a phone,” Sowore said.

“Youthfulness is also important in the sense that you need leaders that are alert and capable and responsive and do not have to spend half of the time in the hospital,” the AAC flag bearer said.

While making reference to former President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing of the “Not Too Young Bill” into law, thereby empowering the youths to vie for the presidency and other positions, Sowore said, “You take power, Nobody should give power to you by any constitutional amendment or law”.

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