When only a few years ago Nigerian youths applauded President Buhari’s assent into law the Not Too Young to Run Bill, not many could have predicted that the arguments for the involvement of the comparatively young in government would be defeated, flawed if you prefer, by one of the president’s biggest supporter and party colleague in the person of the pugilistic Governor of Kogi State, Mr. Yahaya Bello.
The ululations that attended what was lauded as a landmark shift in our political experiment that sought to reflect the changing demographics of Africa’s most populous nation and help usher in younger leaders have long since dwindled to an embarrassing murmur of sheer disbelief in the capacity for deceit, corruption and ineptitude that has plagued the Kogi state government and people under the embarrassing rule of Governor Yahaya Bello- Nigeria’s youngest serving governor by age.
Recent confirmation by the EFCC of Governor Yahaya Bello’s attempt to hoard state relief funds for personal gains is a rare revelation into the elevation of corruption as a strategy for deliberate mis-governance and avarice that has stunted the development of the state and made rubbish of the vigorous arguments for the inclusivity of youths and the comparatively young in government. Lacking, therefore, the mettle of integrity necessary to offer his resignation over the scandal that now engulfs his government, Mr. Yahaya Bello must thus be shown the exit door through legislative impeachment.
This is a sacred duty and intervention that Kogi state legislators owe their people as a redemptive first-step in rescuing the coffers of the people from the avarice of a young but dishonourable ‘yoot guvernor’. Failure to act with dispatch and alacrity in this vein would amount to a legislative seal of approval over the attempted theft and aborted mis-appropriation of the commonwealth of the people of Kogi state.
Governor Yahaya Bello represents a poor example of a political Nigerian youth, and is one whose leadership is a crying shame to the progenitors of the Not Too Young to Run or Rule campaign that favourably disposed Nigerians to the idea of having much younger persons in positions of political authority in the country. He has squandered the goodwill and faith of many, and trampled on the aspirations of many more by his unremarkable cupidity.
Even so, the uncomfortable truth which Governor Yahaya Bello’s rapacity has brought to the fore is that the quality of a leader’s character matters just as much if not more than their age. The Not Too Young to Run bill ‘merely emphasizes the dysfunctional structures of the nation’s democratic amalgam and the lopsided economic disparities between the mighty old ruling class and the deliberately pauperised youths by the same obstructing criminal political elites. It does not confer any measure of competence in an aspiring youth in just about the same vein that grey hairs does not translate to outright proficiency in political leadership.
In aiming for clarity and sanity in our polity and politics, the likes of Governor Yahaya Bello must not be allowed to thrive. One can vouchsafe that his attempt to hide away over N19Billion of taxpayers money was part of the building process of a war chest for his rather laughable presidential ambition. Again, to have to confront in a relatively young leader such an incident of money politics amidst queries of the electoral ethos of elected leaders is to emphasise that besides spirit and vigour, young age alone is not prescient of leadership competence. Governor Yahaya Bello who now represents all that must be abhorred and eschewed in our politics must thus be made an example of- impeached and prosecuted, to set the tone for the future.
Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq. is a Legal Practitioner and the Managing Partner at Law Corridor.