By Edet Ewa
In the run-up to the 2023 General elections, diverse issues have been brought to the fore, in order to guide choices by parties and the electorate. The most trending conversations centre on the issue of zoning. Zoning implies which section of the nation or state should have the prerogative of producing contenders and eventual occupants of the key offices especially those of the President and Governors of the states.
Curiously, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence over the more germane matter of the appropriate demography to produce occupants of executive offices. By the consideration of their age and longer exposure to power and its perks, the leading aspirants for the presidency are nearer 80yrs than 70yrs. While one may argue that President Joe Biden is almost 80yrs old, the quality of life and healthcare in his home base make Biden at 80yrs as fit if not more fit than a 60yr old Nigerian.
Meanwhile, judging by present and not too distant history, the age and state of health of aspirants to busy Executive offices should command more interest than the location of the village of the aspirant. For one, a sick President or Governor by his inability to function optimally drags the entire society behind. One need not recount the chaos and setbacks the health of the late President Yar’Adua caused the whole nation. President Buhari has equally put the country in panic mode a few times with his health and medical furlough.
Cross River State blazed the trail in raising youthful governors from the time of Clement Ebri through to Donald Duke, Liyel Imoke and the incumbent, Ben Ayade, all of who took office in their 40s, with the exception of Duke who mounted the saddle at age 37 years. However, the golden era appears gone as most aspirants who have indicated interest for the office of Governor of CRS are in their 60s, with few septuagenarians in the mix.
The hallmark of true leadership is in raising a worthy band of successors. Does the present scenario in Cross River State imply a lack of quality materials for leadership in the younger generations? People like Donald Duke should be concerned that his close friend and age mate, Gershom Bassey, is aspiring to be governor 24 years after his buddy ran for the said office. Is former governor Imoke telling our younger stock that he did not mean what he said in October 2021 that a younger generation needed to take over leadership of the state?
Ben Ayade has endeared himself to the younger generation and is now looking set to be the centre of political engagements in the state with his youthful brigade in the APC. The PDP is now the butt of jokes with derisive comments targeted at its “pensioner” aspirants. Is PDP a yesterday party in the state? Has the legacies and leadership of Duke/Imoke given way to Ayade with his mammoth youths? It will be a sad commentary if the old horses in the PDP fail to take a bow from the stage when the ovation is loudest, than allow themselves to be humiliated by the Ayade Boys who staged a successful rally not too long ago to signal their arrival in the political battlefield.
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ENTIRELY THE AUTHOR’S.
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