A gerontocracy is a form of oligarchical rule. In the case of Buhari, a fatherly rule and that of elderly rule rolled into one. A patriarchal society or system is one in which the men have all or most of the power and importance. To the feminist, she is a victim of the patriarchal society. Without much indulgence, we can recall the ‘ the kitchen and the other room’ gaffe by Buhari with the German Chancellor, Frau Bundeskanzlerin, Angela Merkel, who ironically is a ‘West German’ woman.
Gerontocracy is also a form of rule in which a country or society is ruled by leaders who are significantly older than most of the adult population. This kind of government is characterized by authoritarianism, classical and wanton display of primitive leadership. It ignores modernistic approach towards solving challenges by altering advice to suit bygone concepts. It mostly relies on sychophants and other certain patterns of political actions which do not mostly meet with current times.
Gerontocracy is on the decline everywhere in the world and is being replaced by a society controlled economically and political by the young. Everywhere in the world, social changes occur as a result of a shift from a composition – the old elite being replaced by the new one. Gerontocracy is inconceivable in the conditions where the society have a more educated youth, a larger population of youth like Nigeria and wish to advance in digital information and technology, artificial intelligence, fashion, music, film, information technology, quantum physics, industrialization and general technical know-how, and expertise.
The dictionary of the world has added another word; Youthocracy, this is the idea that the younger generation (youths) should hold political power. With the emergence of 44 year old Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister in Canada and 39 year-old Emmanuel Macron as President in France, there have been sparks in the debate about the best age group to be in political power. And the clamour and passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill last year July, there has been raised issues if Nigeria can achieve such feat with the emergence of radicals like Sowore, Ahmed Garba, Fela Durotoye, Chris Emejuru, Yul Edochie in the Nigeria presidential race. Whether they win or lose this time would be inconsequential to me, the most important thing is that they dared to vie, a position that was once the exclusive rights for the old. I am ashamed these youth have not been framed up in the Offa robbery and in other organized criminal gang syndicates, which has become the norm rather than the exception in this handcuff kind of government. Or why EFCC has not picked them up still baffles me. Is it that they have talismans to escape sittings? How can we then tell the world we are still into Militocracy (The partial Transmission and Commission, no transmitter, sorry sir, transmission, I mean transfusion into democracy)
From studies and experience, there are odds against gerontocracy, and obvious in our Nigerian experience. Taking examples from the patriarchal characteristics of Buhari, it is necessary to note the culture of authoritarianism in his style of leadership. His leadership is based on traditional patriachical system where he is both self-righteous and have over-idealization of himself just as elders are found of doing in our native societies. They are never wrong, they make rules and never wish to follow them. They suspend the constitution at will. They have old bygone ideas yet do not want to listen to new ones. Its a taboo to correct them, and any form of correction or criticism is seen as disrespectful and the ‘youth’ is to be punished. We have seen the humiliation of Dino Melaye (for exposing internalized corruption in the government of Saint buhari) and the frame up of Senator Ahmed Sani, Senator Misau and recently, Senator Saraki. They are old and cannot attend to challenges, yet, they are ‘advised’ by their beneficiaries to hang on to power. They are faced with ill-health and have been advised by their foreign doctors to stay at home, instead of them to reliquish powers and go to rest, they rather rule from their ‘other’ rooms while their glorified houseboy of Chief of Staff issues quaries, sign important documents and reinstate sacked criminals into the civil service while the president is asleep because rats broke into the presidential office carting away the presidential maze…These contradicts the lofty ideals of liberalism, which demands that truth must be spoken to power. In the tradition where the patriarch like Buhari takes a cane to flog any dissenting voice is a frontal contest with the freedom of the people. Buhari is not infallible, he is not God and must not push down his traditional style of fathering his children into our throats by force of coercion. This ‘jackboots and agbada’ kind of fatherly morality is doing us more harm than good. We must recognize the kind of society we are heading towards if we allow a perpetually unaware father to be the sole driver of this society without being able to accept criticisms. He think himself as the most righteous Nigerian while the rest are either corrupt or lazy.
We are sitting on the lap of history as we trudge sufferingly towards the 2019 election. We must probe without fear this emerging gerontocratic absolutism and change this patriachical system which buhari has installed by voting him out. We must consciously reject his backward tenets which advancing and advanced nations have rejected long ago. We must create a government that knows what separation of powers is, we must create an environment where there is respect for freedom of speech as enshrined in the constitution, we must position ourselves with our PVC actions to consistently demand for a kind of government that is not ideologically corrupt and morally bankrupt. We must enshrine the rule of law and abide by the tenetes of democracy. Until we do this, until we achieve this, we shall be walking on the pavements constructed by the bloody hands of an old authoritarian nepotist, and this will only lead us towards destruction.
Elempe Dele, A Societal Curator wrote from Abuja. 2018.