While growing up since Primary School days, debates were probably the best school activities for some pupils as it gave the opportunity to just stand, express yourself and simply talk away in the feat of the growing intellect. Debates encouraged some of us to brainstorm on critical issues for us then, such as that the ‘Farmer is greater than the Teacher’, or simply that ‘Women care better than Men’. Such “catch them young” strategy was what has contributed into making some of us the avid speakers, thinkers and writers that we variously are today. Some kudos to the education sector for that, at least, all isn’t very bad.
On the political scene however, the story is not the same. We awfully and shamefully find a lot of political leaders not interested and even disdain intellectual discourses. And where they discourse, you find a lot of their arguments embarrassingly porous. At the National and States’ House of Assemblies for instance, we sometimes find members who are completely unable to articulate their motions properly, they are though, slightly better than those who don’t speak at all. This is a country where aspiring Presidents still do not turn up for the Presidential Debate. This then leaves a very big question to the kind of leadership they intend to offer.
The most resent episode of the debate escapades against the traditions of the 21st century was staged in Osun State of Nigeria where a youth-focused debate was organized on the 3rd of August, 2014 towards the election coming up six days later, on the 9th August.
Typical of any Nigerian election so far, there are two major candidates ahead in the opinion polls to wit, the incumbent governor of the state who seeks a second term in office, and his major contender, a former senator of the Federal Republic. Shockingly, none of this duo turned up for the gubernatorial debate. In fact, only two “underdogs” were present.
From what can be observed, it can almost not be disputed that one of the incumbent Governor and the ex-Senator would emerge as the winner. What then unsettles the belly that, if they avoid youth and issue-driven interactions as such, what kind of administration do they then plan to offer? On what intellectual and ideological base can they then interface with the people which they fight so much to govern?
One thing is for the people to demand accountability from their leaders, another thing is for leaders to make themselves available for such. It is now time for people to begin to drill both aspiring and incumbent leaders seriously and take a conscious effort to relegate anyone who show traits of unaccountability and who avoid public intellectual stimulations. What developing nations such as ours need are not political jamboree and show-offs where godfathers and/or the republic’s President parade with their “anointed” candidate(s) amidst the cheers of misguided citizens, but platforms where aspiring leaders can be quizzed directly about salient issues by the people they intend to lead.
The writer of this article, Abiodun Omonijo is a student of the Department of Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University. You can reach Abiodun via his Blog: www.abiodunomonijo.wordpress.com/