Social Change, Youth and Political Leadership

April 30, 2018 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Reuters photo



Abdulyassar Abdulhamid



A month ago I, alongside a friend with whom I share almost everything in common, had about an hour-long educative discussion with a Kano-born Hausa musician Aminu Ala in his office on the rise and sudden decline of many Hausa musicians. He raised this argument citing many examples with live and dead musicians who could not cope with the turbulent waves of social change and at last lost their voices. He argued that many of those musicians could not fashion out some ways, either by changing their theme or adopting foreign musical instruments, in order to adapt to changing circumstances.


“For example”, he said, “many of those artists had held tight to the past forgetting innovation and the merciless sword of radically unstable time had to cut them off the pages of stardom. A month ago I had to blend an Indian musical tune and Hausa’s kalangu to produce a song. I used this as a boat to float safely on the tides of social change.”


We unanimously agreed on this point and a friend of mine cited an example of Craig David and Stevie Wonder who, after releasing some captivating best-selling albums, withdrew to the gutter of forgetfulness, to support Ala’s claim.


At once I referred them to a philosophical assertion Ibn Khaldun set forth in his masterpiece, Muqaddama (Prolegomena), a timeless book that analyses the social organizations, their rise, growth and sudden decline; and in the words of Albert Guarani, a book “Full of reminders of the fragility of human effort”.


Sometimes thereafter I often ask myself many philosophical questions on social change, the way civilizations are “Visited by a destructive plague which devastated nations and caused populations to vanish…when they had reached the limit of their duration. It lessened their power and curtailed their influence,” in the words of that great historian. Should this give both our youth and political leadership a clue about the reality of life? Must people chance in accordance with a convulsive movement of time, weather and the universe? How will Kano, Nigeria, perhaps the world at large look like in the next one hundred years when we are long gone?


Although many anthropologists have argued that change is natural and inevitably ever-present in every aspect of life, why do we look at alteration in individuals rather than social structures, institutions and social relationships that are the leading agents of such changes?


By applying the theories of social change to the Nigerian context, one can argue that we are somehow caught in the stagnant webs of the past. In more than sixteen years of democracy only two agendas have pathetically materialized out of tens of others: lazy unproductive youth struggling with a cargo of negative mentality and irresponsible leaders that have built structures upon structures on quicksand.


Changes in our population both in number and composition have far reaching effects on our social co-existence. It affects our economic well-being especially when the authorities fail to invest in its population to make them an asset rather than a liability to themselves, their immediate family members and the larger society. This is, perhaps, because subsequent governments have failed to chart some sustainable ways to resuscitate the economy. An increase in the population, since political leadership has failed us, results in an increase in unemployment, crime rate, poverty and inadequate facilities.


“The establishment of systems where democratic principles abound and are upheld,” argued Strashbourg, “requires a civil society where the youths are predominantly the catalyst of a socio- political and economic culture attuned to democracy, liberty and freedom.” This reminds me of the Not Too Young to Run bill passed recently by the National Assembly.


Indulge me to say the future of this country, though bleak, pardon my calling it bleak, lies in the hands of our youth; but because of the quality of their education, unpreparedness and cargo-mentality, they lack the prerequisite skills to run a political office effectively. Until our youth wake up from their daydreaming, shake off that extravagant, wishful thinking and take up responsibilities with changing circumstances, the country will continue to languish. Not my hope!


There is a clear indication that an increase in population, if not empowered by a committed leadership, results in high rate of unemployment, poverty and crimes to mention just a few. All this is because, perhaps, subsequent governments have no plan for the future which is fast approaching with its sharp projectiles.


Political leadership is a “permission to govern according to declared policies, regarded as officially granted by an electorate…upon the decisive outcome of an election” (Chambers dictionary, 1993). But unfortunately, the law that should have been an effective instrument of socio-economic and political changes and protector of the interest of the weaker section of the society has ended up a subject of mockery. Take for example the recent happenings in parliament. A serving senator flanked by some hoodlums, so they called them – perhaps taking it after the former Rivers State governor, Rotimi Amaechi, who used it as a weapon against his perceived enemies in 2013 – allegedly invaded the parliament and carted away the mace, which is the symbol of authority. Wonders, it is not about the structure which is made of mahogany, rather what it symbolizes, the context and the people involved.


“A leader”, argued John C Maxwell, “is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”. Gosh! Most of our leaders have undying contempt of the law. They, many analysts have suspected, arrogate all the powers to themselves, forgetting that the masses are the real power. How on earth an occupant of an established political position called a leader that should have imbibed moral principles and set up a good model for the followers to copy from exemplifies the opposite?  But when a responsibility-laden character chooses to misbehave one has nothing to say but as Thomas Carly claimed that, “Modern democracy has produced many fools who vote leaders into the parliament to palaver”.


Political behaviour as a theory has never made any attempts at admitting such misdemeanors into its fold. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Be with a leader when he is right, stay with him when he is still right, but, leave him when he is wrong,” as an individual affected directly by the misdeeds of such leadership I will flag them down by giving them a very  low mark.


Perhaps this is what makes Bigger Thomas say, when tired of mulling over his feelings, “God, I wish I had a flag and country of my own”; but at least here as there the mood will soon vanish, too, and everyone goes his own way.





Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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