Is age just a number?

The hunt for a president has sent Nigerians far and wide and earlier signals have already suggested the feelings of a grim inevitability about what would come next.

Whilst it is possible for America’s Joe Biden to lead his country at the age of 70, the same cannot be said of a country like Nigeria whose institutions are thin and insipid.

Nigerians have reacted divisively regarding the age and health status of President Muhammadu Buhari, especially in 2019. His successful reelection bid baffled a swathe of Nigerians and the retired general has done little to quieten his doubters/critics since.

Those still subscribing to the point of view that age is just a number would surely have some humble pie after witnessing Buhari jetting out of the country 1000+X times for medication.

With the party primaries edging to climax, Nigerians are embroiled with a tight decision to make as the candidates presented by the two giant parties (APC and PDP) are septuagenarians.

With the two being in their late 70s, we could only ignite the debate over whether Alhaji Atiku Àbubakar is healthier than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu or it is the reverse case.

Ironically and impressively, perhaps exclusively, to the age and health status, Bola Tinubu managed to combine the two. He’s old and sick. These two factors, however, epitomise physical incompetence.

The founders of democracy understood that government is supposed to work for living people, rather than for a bunch of old ghosts.

In Nigeria, even the constitution, which is worshipped like a religious document, is strangled by these old ghosts and the idea that you mould politics to suit people and not the other way round is on extinction.

Though poor health status has never stopped anyone from becoming the president of Nigeria (example: late Musa Yar’adua), the case of Tinubu is so egregious. He is coming at a point when Nigerians are less tolerant of such flaws. It does not help Tinubu that more and more Nigerians are beginning to see the correlation between such flaws and the performances of the bearer, as President Muhammadu Buhari exemplifies.

Nigerians are coming into a new awareness of how personal things affect professional things and how individual faults impact the collective interest of the people. Unfortunately, in Nigeria’s crooked democracy, people have little say on who will ultimately become their leader. The power brokers are the most significant determinants of who will emerge as president.

Age is just a number but when they go high, the numbers become too heavy and break the person that carries them.

You can only disagree in defense but the reality still stands that age is not just a number. It’s a physical and mental retrogression.

Mubarak Shu’aib,
Misau local government area,
Bauchi state.