LOUD WHISPERS: The Great Debate

The Motion: The Older Generation Have Failed To Provide Leadership. It Is Time for Younger People to Take Charge.


For the motion: Ms Jenny Kempte

Mr Sonny Weta

Mr Peter Mandete

Against the motion: Chief Pelumi James

Dr Fanta Iyohen

Senator Victor Majomi

Moderator: Ms Kafria Wenge


Moderator: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I would like to welcome you all to The Great Debate. These are the rules of this debate. The first speaker will have three minutes to propose the motion, followed by a speaker against the motion who will also have three minutes. Other speakers for and against the motion will have two minutes each to support their lead speaker. We will continue this till all three speakers for and against the motion have had their turn. There will be no interruptions, you need to wait for your turn to speak. Do we agree with and understand the process?

Debate teams: Yes

Moderator: Thank you. Now we will hear from our first speaker, Ms Jenny Kempte.

Jenny Kempte: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I would like to move the motion that the older generation have failed our country Nikenyia and it is time for younger people to take charge. First of all, I want to establish what I mean by the older generation. Anyone over the age of 60 is too old to hold any public office. Our country is not progressing because not only are all our leaders too old, their ideas are old. Most of you do not understand the way the global economy works today, we are missing out on the great advances in technology, you keep fighting the same old wars and you are too selfish to allow new faces and voices enter the political arena. Some of you are so selfish you are taking positions meant for your own children, just because you still want to remain relevant

I approached an uncle of mine to help me look for a job. My uncle took my CV, and when he went to see the Minister for Agriculture he lobbied him for a consultancy for himself! I did not know about this till one of the Minister’s aides who is an old classmate mentioned it to me. Our leaders have destroyed this country with their corruption, nepotism and selfishness. They should stop calling us the ‘leaders of tomorrow’. When will tomorrow come? We are leaders of today!

Pelumi James: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am opposing the motion that older people have failed our beloved country Nikenyia and that younger people should take over. Ms Kempte has made my job easy by making so many sweeping statements and generalisations. I and my team have not come here today to defend the actions of all the leaders of our generation. We will however make the case that there is no society where you do not need older people as leaders. My generation has sacrificed so much for this country. We fought for independence and ensured that we did not continue to exist like tenants in our own country like our brothers and sisters in other parts of Africa had to do for many years before their own liberation. Yes, we have had some very tough political and economic times, but we have tried our best to keep the country together. We have not disintegrated due to civil war and dispersed ourselves all over West and Central Africa.  Our generation has many great achievements in education, technology, industry, arts and entertainment, and we have excelled all over the world. The problem with your generation is that you feel entitled to leadership positions but you don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. You don’t read much, you spend most of your time on social media, you are obsessed with sex, money and living life on the fast lane, and many of you cannot even name some of Nigeria’s key milestones or heroes. As if we don’t have enough young women running around half naked, you are now importing foreign strippers and sex workers into night clubs and dancing the ‘one corner dance’!

Sonny Weta: Thank you Chief James for the points you have made. I am supporting the motion that the older generation has failed and should give way to the younger generation to lead. Chief James has told us that our leaders have prevented a civil war and saved us from being refugees. This is why we are saying you are all tired and should take a back seat. In Nikenyia right now, due to the insurgency in the Northern part of the country, communal clashes and natural disasters, we have over 2.1 million people who have been displaced. They do not have homes to go to, they are living in camps and women and little children are abused in various ways on a daily basis. And you are telling us that you have saved us from falling apart. In another part of the country there is a clamour for a Birenge Republic. Our roads are bad, we have epileptic electricity, our hospitals are mortuaries, our industries are comatose and civil servants are not paid for months.

Yes, many of you have achieved great things, but how has this helped the younger generation? We attend Universities under atrocious conditions and when we graduate we can’t get jobs. Even when we are invited for interviews they want to know what experience we have. How can we have experience when we have not had an opportunity to work? Recently it was in the newspapers that some of our politicians hired their illiterate thugs and party supporters as primary school Teachers years ago. These illiterates have been teaching little children who will go through an educational system populated by half-baked teachers and lecturers. People like you Chief James, with all due respect, do not care about this because your children are not one of those learning under trees or being taught by people who can not even write their own names properly. Sir, you and others like you have failed us and we are tired of your excuses. As for importing foreign sex workers, you know very well that did not start with us sir.

Fanta Iyohen: I am opposing the motion that the older generation has failed this country and young people should take over. Leadership is not just about propounding theories and playing to the gallery. Leadership is about making tough choices and managing relationships and resources in order to get things done. In an ideal word a leader would like to be all things to all people, but that is not how it works in real life. I do not believe our generation has failed, what I think is that we had many tough challenges to cope with such as military rule and its impact on our political and economic systems, the global economic crisis, agitations for local resource control which have often turned violent, politicisation of religious and ethnic differences, disruptions in our educational systems and our weak governance institutions.

Ironically a lot of these problems were caused by leaders who themselves were very young at the time and probably did not have enough experience to understand the implications of their decisions. This is why we always need experienced, mature people in leadership, those who have succeeded or failed at something and know what to do and what to avoid. We need young people such as yourself to provide leadership in our country, but we should not be talking about sending all of us away as if our problem is one of age alone. There are fools of all ages. I listened to a young man on radio the other day. He is thirty-two years old and he wants to run for Governor of Melita State. He has never been a Councilor, but he wants to be a Governor. He seems to have made some money but he has no visible means of livelihood, all he is saying is I am young, vote for me. Is that enough? When phone calls started coming in for him, it became clear he is only after power.  If someone like that gets into public office he will be much worse than all the people you are criticizing. All of you want to run but you do not want to learn to walk.

Peter Mandete: I am supporting the motion that the older generation has failed us and young people should take over. I have two main problems with our older leaders. First, they are so corrupt. Everyday, we hear of scandals, billions of Naijis going missing. This money is not used to help poor people but to help your family members and friends. You pay yourselves huge allowances in the National Congress, and some of you go on holiday and even have the audacity to flaunt how you are spending our money on Instagram and Facebook. It is outrageous and you should be ashamed of yourselves. The other problem I have is you do not like to mentor young people. You only have time to mentor those who you want to use to launder money. I am sure if I agree to be a front for one of you, I will get sponsorship for an election. You do not listen to us or try to understand us, you are always condemning us as useless and lazy. How can we work when we have no jobs or capital to start a small business? Yes, you have some programs to assist us but they are largely inaccessible and have been hijacked by your political supporters.

Victor Majomi: Thank you for all your contributions. I am opposing the motion that the older generation has failed and young people should take over leadership. The motion, in my own opinion, does not make any sense. The older generation were young once and we did not have to push anyone out of the way, we found our own way. If you want to be leaders, stop whining, start organizing and take your place. Yes, many of you are unemployed, but what about those who are in employment? If you are lucky enough to have a job, look for an additional source of income. It could be farming, social marketing, group savings, something that can enable you have peace of mind without depending on one source of income. Read good books that can ground you in an understanding of your country’s context, sharpen your mind and unleash creative thinking. Look for the books of Wole Soyinka, Frantz Fanon, Mahmoud Mamdani, Okey Ndibe, Ayesha Imam, Segun Adeniyi and so on.  I know many of you read leadership books by Franklin Covey and John Maxwell but you need a more rounded education than what you can get from inspirational, feel-good books. Do not fuel ethnic hatred on social media. As young Nikenyians you are supposed to use the technology you have to build social capital across ethnic divides, and not turn our country into another Rwanda. Be respectful and carry yourselves as people with good home training. A child who knows how to wash his or her hands well will dine with elders.

Moderator: Thank you very much for all your contributions to this lively debate. It is clear that this is a topic that will not be laid to rest today. We have learnt a lot from listening to both sides of the debate, and I know you will agree with me that we have all learnt from each other. Please let us continue to talk about these issues, and do not forget – age does not equal wisdom or foolishness. Leadership virtues such as integrity, character, respect, diligence and maturity are timeless. Have a great week.


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com




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16 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Great Debate

  1. Femi Diipo October 23, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Great debate indeed with both sides adequately and comprehensively represented. However, I am of the opinion that despite the ills of the new generation, the old generation should take total responsibility for all the degeneration they have overseen. In a country where none of the children of most state and federal official resides in the country, nor can a child of a university vice chancellor be seen in the university. There is no light or water, roads are bad and fuel is expensive but these are the experiences of the ruled only. The older generation really have failed us

  2. Dom Dom October 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    Yoruba people will say that a child may have as many clothes as the elderly, but never as many rags. These has never been more true, even as much in this debate. The rag in context could be interpreted as experiences which there is no way of accumulating unless given the opportunity. For the older generation not to have totally failed us, it is time they start allowing us the opportunity to garner our own experiences.

  3. Olakunle Olajide October 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    I am definitely supporting this motion. The older generations have failed the Nation. Just like Peter Mandete rightly said, the corruption is so unbearable, scooping more money and resources for their generations to come. Nothing is working, the words of our older generations are not being backed up by true actions. Instead, they go against their words and in turn deceive the faithful citizens. Enough is enough, the tomorrow is here already, let the younger generation reason together to make this Nation great again.

  4. Samuel October 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Great points ditched out. Sincerely the experiences from the older generations are very much needed but we havn’t seen the benefits yet, so i ask, do we really need them? I think the younger generations can do well to read and study on past governance to have insight on leadership. To adopt the good skills and to neglect the bad decisions.
    Great conclusion from the Moderator.

  5. Josh Amara October 23, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    Sincerely, I feel the young generation is not prepared. We are not prepared at all. I feel we will perform worse than the older generations.

  6. omilola Adeleke. October 23, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    This is a well laid down and genuine debate. Seriously, if we must take the future, we must eliminate the older ones and screen the news in character before they are put in place. This is not a matter of what has been done, it is about how to clean up their mess and move the country forward.

  7. Victor Udoh October 23, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    @josh Amara, I think it is better you speak for yourself. Who told you that we can’t handle this country correctly? So, the old vipers should keep sucking the milk yeah? I think you should change the company of the young people you have around you.

    If this country must move forward, the old heads must go.

  8. Mofe Lukman October 23, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    May God help us to do the right thing in this country. The both sides made valid point but the summary of it all is how prepared are the young ones to take on this cause and not tread the paths of the older generations? How well are they getting prepared? Like mama said, read good books not only the books by foreigners. Read home made books about politics and know how to maneuver things. I just hope we learn from our mistakes.

  9. DSEED October 23, 2017 at 10:34 pm

    This is a rightful topic to debate on. For me I always think it is our elders that can make things right because of their experience. But to my surprise even majority has failed us. May God help our generation to raise leaders that wouldn’t disappoint generations coming. I also agree to the point that maturity is not about age.

  10. Elaine Nwosu October 25, 2017 at 11:26 am

    It is a pity that we know our problems and the solutions too in our heads but how do we implement them? You see, as for me, the young ones are joking, playing ludo instead of playing chess. They only go get charged up at conferences and then share their thoughts on facebook and instagram. How many of them have their voters card? How many of them take part in the LG meetings? How many of them read books pertaining to leadership? See ehn! This Nigeria! We never even start.

  11. Laura Dameson October 25, 2017 at 11:31 am

    @Victor udoh, I don’t think @joshAmara has said anything wrong, she only said the truth. How many of the young ones want to walk the paths to greatness like Mandela, Soyinka and even Our Erelu Fayemi did. How many walks have you walked for yourself. We need good mentoring and the ability to learn and do what we have learnt. Though finding good mentors is important but how many of the good ones want to mentor people without ‘names’?

  12. Bolanle Olatan October 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Sincerely, I know the comment section will be on fire with such an article as this but let me say this, there are young people ready to serve and learn from good people but it’s difficult to see them teach you and show you what it means to lead.

    when we go for conferences everybody says, you can do it, support each other and before the end of the event those charging you up to do it leave before you. They don’t even have the time to talk to you one on one. They won’t show you what and how they did it so, how are we supposed to know what to do?

  13. Nneka October 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Let us just do what Ghana did. Kill all the old idiots and let’s start afresh!

  14. Victoria E October 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I love this article. But one thing is paramount, the leadership we want to see happen in our country, starts from the family. If you cannot begin good values, leadership in your home? Don’t even think of exporting it outside the home. Like our people will say, Charity begins at Home.

    • Samuel October 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

      GBAM!!! You just said it all.

  15. Eric Onuoha October 26, 2017 at 12:21 am

    What a debate. I believe that to be a good leader you must first be a good follower. Being a good follower means you are learning from your leader. The older generation are supposed to train and mentor the younger generation. By this, the younger generation will learn and perhaps provide better way of doing things. Both generations need each other


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