Editorial

April 11, 2024

Time-up for Africa’s oldies

Time-up for Africa’s oldies

Africa’s newest president, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, of Senegal was sworn in on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Dakar, an event that President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria joined his colleague heads of state and other dignitaries to attend.

Faye, 44, emerged from a complex process characterised by sudden paradigm shifts. For instance, out-gone President Macky Sall had postponed the election to December 2024 but due to intense political unrest, was forced to hold it on March 24, 2024.

Also, Faye, along with the leader of his Pastef Party, Ousmane Sonko, were released from the slammer just ten days to the election. After emerging victorious, he appointed his erstwhile leader who fully supported him, Sonko, as the Prime Minister. Sonko is 49. Senegal, the only democracy truly standing tall in West Africa, is now under the control of youthful leaders.

The African Sahel, which has been the scene of military sweep-asides of the old guard “democrats”, now nestles in the grip of the youth. Apart from Senegal, Guinea’s military leader, Mamady Doumbouya, is also 44. Mali’s Col. Assimi Goita is 41. The military leader of Burkina Faso, Ibrahim Traore, is the youngest yet – 36. Also, Mamat Deby, a four star general and son of the late dictator, Idris Deby, is 40.

The intriguing part of it all is that many of these fresh-faced Sahel leaders, including Senegal’s Faye, are determined to uproot the parasitic political infrastructure planted by their former colonial master, France, and beat a new future of independence and strategic realignments of international affiliations.

This is the elixir that African countries need to truly assert their independence. The post-colonial African political elite compromised the independence of their countries by submitting to the dictates of, not just their former colonial overlords, but also the West and its imperialistic institutions, particularly the Bretton Woods pair of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the World Bank, WB, whose prescriptions and financial baits keep Africans in poverty.

African countries can no longer afford to repose the future of their people in the hands of leaders who lack the imagination, energy and executive capacity to lead but depend on offshore powers to stay in office, often against the people’s will.

Already, talks of a “new partition for Africa” are in the air. With the new technological age powered by Information and Communication Technology, ICT, and Artificial Intelligence, AI, which have already left Africa miles behind, the continent needs a fresh jolt of youthful adrenalin to stand a chance of surviving the unfolding future.

In advanced climes, age does not matter because the systems are institutional. Former President Muhammadu Buhari in a moment of candour, confessed that he wished he were younger when he took over as president. Africa must be in the hands of the youth to secure her place in the future.