Friday, March 19, 2010

DUTCH POLITICS: ‘SMALL’ BOYS AND GIRLS ARE IN CHARGE

In Holland, political posts are held by ‘small’ girls and boys who would have been errand kids or political thugs in Nigeria. When I read that Wouter Bos was retiring from politics at 46 and Camiel Eulings was retiring at 36, I thought, ‘Come on, they weren’t even supposed to have started active politics yet’. Wouter Bos was leader of Dutch Labour Party and Camiel was a leader in the Christian Democratic Party (CDA). Camiel was Minister of Transport; Member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the continental European People’s Party—all within 36 years of existence on this planet. In Holland, they start (too) early. Consider this:
* 26-year old Herriët Brinkman is CDA councillor in Staphorst.
* 25-year old Evelien van Roemburg is a councillor for the green GroenLinks in Amsterdam
* 24-year old Mohammed Mohandis is Labour councillor in Gouda.
* 22-year old Rob Jetten is the leader of left-wing liberal D66 in the city of Nijmegen
* 22-year old Pieter van Ojen is an SGP councillor in Zeist
* 22-year old Farshad Bashir is two-year member of parliament for the Socialist Party
If you don’t believe this last one, I wouldn’t blame you:
* 18-year old Lidewij Bergsma is a VVD councillor in the Frisian town of Tytsjerksteradiel, and she is still in high school.

But when did these people start? When did they develop an ideology which led them to identify ‘their’ party? How did they start? When did they serve their time out as errand runners in the parties? I knew the Dutch baby starts to ride a bicycle shortly before it starts walking; I didn’t know politicking starts just about the same age. Care must then be taken in addressing people: that teenager riding his bike across the street may be the councillor of this ward! Councillors where I come from are old and powerful: they carry themselves as big men and women with some having their own bodyguards and personal assistants. They earn more than university professors earn.

In gerontocratic Nigeria, party leaders and political godfathers will not think you are fit for any office if you are in your twenties. Do you think politics is learnt in the University that you attended? What do you know? Who do you know? Who is your father? How many party thugs can you muster? AND—How much money do you even have? Small boy like you! How many years have you spent pasting party posters all over town?

Nigerian politicians are old people. Rilwan Lukman was made minister at age 70-something. But in Nigerian you cannot even be sure of anything. Age is shrouded in secrecy. Well, you must begin by asking ‘which age?’ Most Nigerian politicians have several ages: the official age (that is the age stated in official documents—which is altered as and when necessary); the marital age (the age they declared to their wives); the age-grade age (the one known by their age-grade members in the village) and the true age (the one known by God, the All-Knowing!).

Now that the Action President is shopping for a new set of ministers, will he choose old and expired politicians? And they are not in short supply in Nigeria. Or will he look for Nigerian Camiels and Boses? They too are not in short supply.

4 comments:

Akin said...

Hello,

It is interesting you brought this up, I read about it too and wondered about a story I was told sometime ago.

In 1978, General Obasanjo visited a primary school and said the pupils were the next generation of leadership for Nigeria.

Time and events past and the pupil recalled in 2008 that 30 years on the same person was now the president of Nigeria.

I think the worse part of this narrative for Nigerians or Africans in general is the paternalistic feeling that the youth have nothing to offer on one hand and that of "leaders" who believe no one else has the wherewithal to lead apart from themselves.

Also as long as maturity in numerical age is our malformed guide to wisdom and intelligence, the youth would always be knocked down and those who portend to break the mould risk being cut down to size.

But the youth must indeed rise and take the bruises that come with it - for Student Union politics in Nigeria I lost five years of being in higher institutions and achieving nothing because ... the rest is history.

You however have insights to take back home. :-)

Regards,

Akin

tundehundeyin said...

Sir, you're right! The 'Action' President has just submitted names of old cargo politicians like Dora Akunyili, President Yar'adua's nephew, Anenih's wife, ex-Gov Tapgun's wife, ex House of Reps Speaker, Bello Masari etc. Thank God he's been courageous enough not to pick the likes of Rilwan lukman anyway.

There's a lot of arm-twisting in Nigerian politics. "Didn't we put you in power? Weren't we the ones who recruited thugs for you? Were we not the ones who funded your campaign and persuaded senate to declare you acting President?"
A lot must have happened in the corridors of power in the last one week.

The African culture preaches that elders are always right and 'children' must learn in silence- no questions asked. It's sad for us. Certain aspects of our culture are setting us back.

tundehundeyin said...

Sir, you're right! The 'Action' President has just submitted names of old cargo politicians like Dora Akunyili, President Yar'adua's nephew, Anenih's wife, ex-Gov Tapgun's wife, ex House of Reps Speaker, Bello Masari etc. Thank God he's been courageous enough not to pick the likes of Rilwan lukman anyway.

There's a lot of arm-twisting in Nigerian politics. "Didn't we put you in power? Weren't we the ones who recruited thugs for you? Were we not the ones who funded your campaign and persuaded senate to declare you acting President?"
A lot must have happened in the corridors of power in the last one week.

The African culture preaches that elders are always right and 'children' must learn in silence- no questions asked. It's sad for us. Certain aspects of our culture are setting us back.

AlooFar said...

This is interesting.

Have you seen the rotten woods constituting the new cabinet?

Shame on us.