by Joe Onwukeme,
In Africa, it is no longer news to hear a president is sick or recovering from an ailment, as I pen down this piece, the president of Nigeria is in London receiving treatment for undisclosed ailment while his Zimbabwean counterpart was reported to have travelled to a Singaporean hospital for an undisclosed ailment too. While that of President Mugabe may not have generated attention globally considering his tenacious hold to power for 3 uninterrupted decades, his Nigerian counterpart, president Buhari has become subject of daily discussion.
The case of Nigeria is increasingly becoming pathetic and gaining traction because Nigeria is fast becoming a nation of ailing presidents, in less than 10 years, Aso Rock Villa; Nigeria’s sit of power has accommodated two ailing presidents. The late Umaru Yaradua died in office on May 2010, and presently, president Buhari is battling an undisclosed ailment in faraway London. This will be president Buhari’s second medical trip to London in less than two months, it would be recalled he was in London for medical treatment in January where he spent 49 days, upon arrival he was hardly seen anywhere in public places. His few appearances in public were his visits to the mosque and few cameo appearances in office.
A fortnight ago, barley 2 months of his medical surgeon abroad, we were welcomed with the news of president Buhari flying out to London for another medical treatment after handing power to the Vice president in controversial manner.
This is not the best of times for Nigeria and Africa as a whole, for how long are we going to keep making same mistake of electing those whose strong suites are to junket the world for medical tourism in world’s best health centres over age related ailments?
A Goggle search into the age of majority of Africa’s presidents will give a better understanding why medical tourism in world’s best facilities has become inevitable.
Is it not incredibly absurd that most African presidents are below 70 years?
This also explains why most African states have been on the downward slope in terms of development decades after independence.
In as much as sickness maybe inevitable, electing a younger president may save us from these tension and ceaseless distractions we are subjected to every now and then. We are tired of analogue presidents in digital era, who are best known as sleeping dummies in world conferences.
All over the world, the younger generation has taken over, mention anywhere in the world, both public or private sector that the younger generation are not in charge and I will show you an African continent where septuagenarians have held on tenaciously, some have glued on to power for over 3 decades even when they have contributed little or nothing in the development of their nations, they have no plans of succession and are not willing to leave their exalted presidential seats but, rather, would prefer to die or at worst, disgraced out after losing in a presidential election to opposition parties.
We can’t continue to do the same thing all the time and expect different results, our present crop of leaders have little or nothing to offer, they have been in the seat of power for decades, some as far as most African nations got their independence, majority of them, past and present leaders have contributed in under developing the African states.
The irony of the whole situation is that most African leaders have done little or nothing to improve health institutions by building health centres with state of the art facilities where they can hurriedly go for medical treatment emanating from age related illnesses, rather, prefers to spend most of their nation’s budget on medical tourism abroad. This has been possible because sit of powers have over the years been occupied by those who think nothing of the next generation; rather, they prefer to erect blocks instead of institutions, promote ethnic/religious unrest to inclusive governance, and embezzle/plunder to development.
This is the time for Nigeria and the rest of African nations to get it right, Africa is undergoing a revolution in the democratic process, before now, it was impossible for an incumbent government to lose to an opposition in African politics, now opposition government are now taking over governance in democratic nations. Africans are becoming wiser and the electorates are becoming impatient to right the wrongs. They are tired of endless search for non-existing jobs while our politicians earn so high for doing little, tired of dying in Trans-Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean seas in search of routes to greener pastures while our leaders and cronies junket the world in fruitless conferences and tourisms.
This is the end of an era, time to right the wrongs is now; a change from the older generation to the younger generation, if France could elect a 39 year old who was about 5 years old when Paul Biya, became the president of Cameroun, I see no reason why a new normal can’t be possible in Africa.
France has opened the way for African younger generation to follow; it won’t be a roller coaster ride but it is a struggle that anyone who is a youth or has the interest of youth at heart, must pursue.
We can’t continue to be relevant only during elections, the time to be active and participate, before, during and after elections is now, African youths, let’s arise, participate and right the wrongs of our leaders, past and present.