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Behold the 22-year old Nigerian Senator!

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On the floor of the red chamber, he argued that Nigeria should focus on human capital development and the need to increase funding for the health sector. He supported Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on education reforms and the need to build the capacity of our higher institutions in Nigeria to better deliver on their mandate.

He moved the motion for better regulation of the environment and the need to strengthen existing environmental regulations to stand the test of time, warning that climate change is a real threat that requires concerted efforts to tackle. He argued for more recognition of the rights of women and the need for Nigeria be more strategic in planning to avoid emergency quick-fix measures that have failed over the years.

He argued for cuts in taxes for the less privileged and jobs creation for the teeming youths in the country. He was all over in the Senate displaying unequalled judgement and knowledge in all spheres of human endeavours.

At the end of Plenary, the Senate President invited him to a side talk and whispered into his ears “you are the future we seek. We need more of your contributions on the floor of the Senate. Thank you so much!”

That is the story of the newly elected 22-year old Nigeria Senator! The scenario above is still a mirage  in Nigeria – a time a 22-year old will be in the Senate. But it is already happening somewhere else in the United States of America – the State of Connecticut.

I never doubted her motives and I don’t think she ever doubted mine. I think we need to get back to a place in this country, recognizing that we can disagree civilly but we’re all in this together. There are no Democratic towns, there are no Republican towns in Connecticut; there are just towns that are struggling, and citizens who are frustrated by a state government who they feel has left them behind or who has ignored them for too long – State Senator-Elect, 26th District of Connecticut

Experience in the political circle is an asset. And so it is in all fields. And with age comes experience. So, it is natural that younger ones defer to older generations in certain circumstances. That though, should not give anyone the licence to think that the younger generation of people does not understand governance – let alone being allowed to fully to charge of it.

It can be very disheartening when the older generation fails to understand that it has done enough – and should quit the stage for upcoming ones.  It is also not right to say that someone cannot run for an office, just because of the number of years he or she has spent on earth.

It is therefore a welcome development in Nigeria that there are younger generations of leaders who look forward to ruling this great nation. But beyond those looking to rule Nigeria, there are many others who are aspiring to become senators, members of Nigeria House of Representatives, members of States Houses of Assembly. And yet many others aspire to rule their States as governors not to mention those who will be participating at sub-regional levels in the 774 local government areas and different political wards.

There are lingering questions though: will the young vote for the young – or will they like the old say their age mates are too young to run? Will the old see the young as pursuing  the same goal of improving the wellbeing of the populace and the fortunes of Nigeria? And will the old encourage the young, if they have to debate and discuss issues?

The story of the young Connecticut newly elected State Senator, Will Haskell – who defeated an incumbent who had been in power much longer than he had been alive – is quite remarkable. It a story of disruption of the status quo. It is story worth reading by anyone aspiring to mount any leadership position. It is a story of inspiration – and hope – for younger generations all over the world, not just in the United States. And for Nigerians and Nigeria, a nation struggling to stabilise her democracy, it a story that must be re-enacted in a not too distant future.

Will Haskell, State Senator-Elect, 26th District of Connecticut 
image credit: willhaskellforct.com/
 

Similarly, for the young people out there, who believe that they can do it, this is a story for you. Even the older politicians who have refused to quit the stage, will benefit from his unwavering belief in the people – and himself.

Fine, he got the endorsement from former President Barack Obama. But his people also believe in him. Likewise, he had an army of young people who queued behind him. Of course , the older ones were not left out.

But most importantly, he believes in himself. Despite aspiring to be a lawyer, he is versed in other areas. Hear him: “I think the important thing is that senator Boucher and I talked about the issues, and we debated them relentlessly. … We went back and forth, disagreed on tolls and transportation funding, education reform, environmental regulations, LGBTQ equality, you name it. But we never made it personal, Will said to Quartz, an online platform covering global economy. He is prepared for governance – because he knows what it means.

Don’t misconstrue this piece. It is not giving a red card to the elderly ones whose wealth of experience we need as a nation. No. It is only encouraging both old and young alike to see Nigeria as our collective responsibility to salvage – and join forces to do so. It is about debates on issues and not on personal diatribes or trivial issues, that have no basis in governance. It is about the elderly ones quitting when they are defeated by the young – and working with them – in the collective interest of Nigeria.

The interview is worth reading. I encourage you to read it and read to the end – and see lessons you can learn for yourself and for the nation. Do enjoy it.

You can read the details of his interview with Quartz on their website. Please Meet 22-Year-Old Will Haskell, State Senator-Elect, 26th District of Connecticut – One Of Connecticut’s Richest Districts.