OPINION: 'Youth leaders' of 60yrs old and 'Nominees' of 80 something years; folly of the wise

By Factnews on 28/04/2017

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Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji

This is an opinion of Prof. Ikechi Mgbeoji, a Professor of Law and a public Analyst


The Matter of 60 years old "Youth Leaders" and 80-something years Old Ambassadorial Nominees: The Folly of a Supposedly Wise People.

About 18 months ago, I took a leave of absence from my professorial perch in Canada to try my hand in public service in my home state, Abia. I had been away for nearly 20 years from Abia. 
Soon enough I began to notice certain oddities which made me question some of the assumptions I had about my people. As a child growing up in Aba, I had come to believe that when God created the Igbos, he put extra portions of commonsense in their cranial boxes. I am not so sure about that anymore.

At my first meeting with certain local political actors, I was introduced to the "YOUTH LEADER" of one of the political parties. He was at least 60 years old. It was a head-scratching moment for me. Just coming back from Canada where I meet with pimply-faced under-20s at YOUTH meetings and gatherings, I could not wrap my mind around a 60-someting years old YOUTH LEADER.
I had experienced similar angst, indeed, anger some years back as a young lawyer when a certain Chief Judge of an Igbo-speaking state was appointed to the Supreme Court when he was 64 years, 8 months---just 4 months shy of retirement. Almost at the same time, a jurist from the North was appointed to the Supreme Court at the age of 42. The jurist from the South East had barely taken his seat at the Supreme Court when arrangements for his retirement went into top gear.

I thought that the phenomenon of the 60 years old YOUTH LEADER in the South East was an aberration. I was dead wrong. Since that first experience, I have met many YOUTH LEADERS of various political parties in Abia, Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Enugu States and none of them is below 40 years of age. If a 50 years old man is the YOUTH LEADER of his political party or even the YOUTH LEADER of his village, what is the expected role of the 20 year-old budding politician? 

Early this week, the social media was agog with developments in France where a 39 years old technocrat is poised to assume residence at the Ellysses Palace in Paris.
Today, the repeat spectacle of a retired 82 years old man struggling to be confirmed as an Ambassador from the South East is playing out again. It would have been laughable if it were not a grievous reminder of the foolishness of some of our people. Are Igbos really politically savvy as they would persuade themselves to believe? 
There are reasons why various societies retire people at certain age brackets. An 82 years old retiree is not the same as a 42 years old man. Not at all. His mental, physical, emotional and cognitive powers have taken a beating. Waking up in the morning is an entire production. Doing any strenuous job is hardly advisable. More importantly, the social network created in the course of the ambassadorial duties will be lost in short order. 

And yet, folks down here beat their chests in self-praise of their supposed high intelligence. Give me a break. We need to take a hard look at ourselves. It is possible that we are fooling ourselves in some of these important matters of statecraft and nation-building.
The phenomenon of 50 years old YOUTH LEADERS in the South East and 80-something years old ambassadorial nominees DOES NOT stand up to scrutiny. It is an unassailable proof of the extreme selfishness of our elite and the diminution of the common interest.
-Ikechi Mgbeoji


Posted on April, 28 2017

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