Stakeholders who gathered at this year’s Symposium in honour of the late Afro-beat king, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti have agitated for a generational shift of power from the old to the new in 2019.
Speakers at the event held at the NECA House, Ikeja area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria are: Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC); Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Eunice Atu-Ejike, National Interest Party and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN. Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana also spoke at the event which was attended by hundreds of Fela lovers.
The event, under the moderatorship of Babajide Otitoju of the Television Continental, TVC, has the theme: “African Leadership in the Millennium.” This year’s event coincided with the 80th posthumous birthday celebration of Fela.
Speaking, Falana said the struggle for the Nigerian presidency was not about age, saying that the time was rife for the young generation to take over power in 2019 as the nation was currently in crisis.
“The country is in crisis and we will not get solution by repackaging distorted views of the ruling class. Our country remains one of the richest in the world and our people are poor,” he lamented.
Falana said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government claimed to be fighting corruption with few money recovered so far, but lamented that the real criminals had not been touched.
He said out of the over 80 million eligible voters, about 60 million of them were youths and that such a huge population of young voters could swing the pendulum to the side of the youths.
“We have more young people in the voting population; we can change the equation if we can get it right,” he said.
In his submission, Durotoye, who spoke so eloquently said since the older generation refused to step aside, they would be overtaken by the new generation, as the younger generation needed to take the nation to the glory land.
“God has blessed Africa and recent research showed that 60 percent of resources required by the world in 21st century are in Africa. Nigeria is blessed and we have not been able to tap our potentials. This is because we only have rulership in Nigeria and not leadership.
“Rulership oppress and suppress the followership while leadership impresses the followership. Military rule, whether in Khaki or civilian attire must step aside for a new generation of leaders to take over in 2019,” Durotoye said.
Also speaking, Sowore said Fela was in charge of his destiny when he was alive, saying that Nigerians did not always celebrate her own people who had contributed immensely to the development of the nation, adding that the stoppage of history in schools had made the children not to know that people like Buhari, Atiku Abubakar and a host of others were not worthy leaders and should not be voted into power in 2019.
Sowore said he wished the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Donald Duke was around, as he was one of the people who canvassed for Abacha to stay longer in power, adding that “but we fought to drive Abacha and Babangida out of power. We are praising criminals, we have moved from the international thief, thief that Fela sang in his song to becoming global thief.
“The solution to our problem is revolution. If any of you think these old people will hand over power to the young generation, we are deceiving ourselves,” he said, lamenting that lots of young people had also missed the mark.
“That is why each time you find a Buhari, you will find a Yahaya Bello. This government is a progression; the last government is always better. The worst government is coming next year if Atiku or Buhari comes into power. It is untrue that there are no young people who can take the nation to the next level. We must have young people to confront these monsters,” he said.
But Atu-Ejide had a contrary view from Sowore and Durotoye’s assertion that the old generation must be phased out, saying that what should be looked at was not whether young or old but better leadership driven with ideas.
She said Nigeria should be grateful that it never had presidents who had spent up to 10 years in office unlike in many African countries where sit-tight presidents spent decades of years in power, saying that what was important in governance was to pick the right leader, whether old or young.
“If we make the mistake of picking people who don’t care but just talk, we will put the wrong people in there and it is not just about age. Even younger age, we have some evil people. Better is not necessarily younger,” she submitted.
But Otitoju punctured Atu-Ejide’s argument, saying that it was better to have younger people with credible character in government than old people, adding that “Mugabe never wanted to quit until he was forced out.”
Speaking, Ezekwesili, who was represented by Tunji Lardner, challenged the young generation to fashion out ways to instigate a generational shift of power to the younger generation, but noted that the challenge before the younger generation was how to change the narratives.
Earlier, Otitoju had described the late Fela as a hero and his mentor, stressing that despite he passed on many years ago, he gave himself immortality, which was why his music remained relevant till today.
“Fela suffered for what was right. It is my wish that 20 years down the line, this celebration will continue in honour of Fela. The challenge is that we should not let the light burn out.
“Talking about Africa and its leaders, is an extremely sober experience, as there is no good story to talk about. Africa represents bad leadership; they have refused to do the right thing for the people; but don’t write off Africa, we don’t have good leaders now, but won’t give up,” he said.