Since the #NotTooYoungToRun bill was passed, we have seen an increase in the number of young people declaring their candidacy for political positions - usually the presidency.
And last week, on the 3rd of July, yet another young person declared his intention to run against President Buhari in the upcoming 2019 elections. Chike Ukaegbu, a 35-year-old New York-based tech entrepreneur announced his candidacy for the presidency.
Chika was born in Owerri, Imo State to now retired civil servants, and he went to school in Nigeria from kindergarten through his second year at University of Lagos before heading to the United States where he studied Biomedical Engineering at City College of New York, Executive Leadership and Management at Cornell University, took MBA courses at University of Pennsylvania, and studied Venture Capital and Investments at Stanford University.
Chike taught Maths for seven years at City College of New York and Entrepreneurship for two, while also serving as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. He has been a fellow to the prestigious Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Policy, and he was recently named one of the UN's 100 most influential people of African descent under 40. He is a technology entrepreneur living in New York City.
In a CNN interview, Chike declared that since 60% of Nigeria's population are youth, it made sense that the country be governed by youth. He's also running on the pillars of tech, education and entrepreneurship. And in an ideal Nigeria, we would agree.
So let's examine why we don't agree, shall we? One, the elections are less than seven months away. How do you begin to campaign around the largest country in Africa with over 200 million people in seven months? You're running on tech, education and entrepreneurship; the bulk of Nigerians are just looking for a way to meet their basic needs - health, education (of course), electricity and job creation. So what is the plan exactly? What's the exact strategy for utilising tech? Buzzwords won't cut it, this isn't Silicon Valley. As a young person, it is normal, expected that you would run on the familiar platforms, but governing a country also means coming to terms with the unfamiliar. The offline, the underserved.
Two, one of the most glaring problems in Nigerian politics is the lack of a proper hierarchical structure. People can just wake up and declare for the highest office in the land without prior training or experience (well except Trump). Any one that is passionate about changing Nigeria needs to know that sweeping declarations or presidential executive orders cannot make the changes we need. The changes need to start from the root, so why don't you start running from the root? Local government chairman, state house of representatives etc. There is no good reasons why your first shot at office as an inexperienced candidate must begin from Aso rock.
And finally, the only way to beat an incumbent, is to have a strong opposition. As it is, there are almost 50 people who have declared their interest in being the next Nigerian president - many young people too - but not enough candidates that give us even slight hope of ousting the current administration. Chike joins a long list of young, politically-inexperienced Nigerians that have declared to run for the presidency and mount "pressure" on President Buhari. Fela Durotoye, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Ahmed Buhari, Omoyele Sowore, Yul Edochie are some of the other candidates that'll be going up against the president next year.
Essentially, too many people declaring dilutes the opposition base, and that's how the wrong people win.