Nigeria’s development problem: A constitutional implementation failure - By: . . | Dailytrust

Nigeria’s development problem: A constitutional implementation failure

By Sani Sulaiman


The statutory retirement age from public service-related work in Nigeria is 60 years. The constitution has reasons for choosing 60 years as quitting time from public service work. It believes that a person at work at 60 years needs to retire for country’s reasons and benefits. First, at 61 years or older, an individual worker may not have the necessary energy to move around doing his job effectively and might not even have the energy to move things around as required for sustainable country’s growth and development.

From the medical science perspective and many others, the constitution is right. The American Optometric Association (AOA) posits that at 61 years or older, an individual’s vision changes drastically to its lowest possible point. The skin of a 61-year-old or older person turns drier and itchier and now looks like a thin paper. Skin wrinkles, age spots and bruises become more noticeable and affect almost every aspect of his socio-economic and socio-political interactions and performance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that at 61 years or older, dementia; an age progressing mental syndrome leading to rapid deterioration in individual’s memory of events and interactions, thinking ability to proffer solutions and the ability to perform everyday activities enters the equation.

Unless a country and her development engines are already working in their optimal capacity at present, the likelihoods that one at 61 years or older can steer the wheels of a country effectively and can provide necessary development are not just low but near impossible. This is sequel to both the physiological and psychological features of this age category as defined in the books. There are environmental changes common to this age group known to weaken capacities and capabilities to provide result-oriented leadership especially for countries with weaker system hierarchies and structures like Nigeria and similar other developing countries.

The second reason for the 60 years retirement age may be that Nigeria’s constitution is sensitive to demography and her delicate dynamics towards sustainable handover of economies of leadership. There are more vibrant others less than 60 years with stronger energy composition that meets national challenges head-to-head and this category of persons can be more visionary than retirees of 61 years or older in proffering solutions for national challenges principally due to higher vigour and sound mental health levels sequel to higher mental alertness and vibrancy.

The constitution is right and well placed for Nigeria’s development in this respect. It has placed Nigeria on the path of progress energy wise both medically and socio-economically. The rest is for Nigerians and their institutions to implement this rich constitutional culture for Nigeria’s good.  Here, there are valid questions for each and every Nigerian and indeed for each political party in the country.

First, to the electorate is the question of why do we elect those our constitution classified as retirees to lead us even with the too many defects in persons above the retirement age as mentioned above? Again, to the political parties: why do parties present retirees as presidential and gubernatorial aspirants over our political space? To the constitution is the question: What is the uniqueness in allowing above 60 years political persons to work as leaders in Nigeria if by the same constitution there is no such uniqueness in allowing them work in other similar offices outside the political space? More precisely, what goodness in work someone above 60 years can render to Nigeria as her president, her vice president, her governor, her senator if the constitution feels that he/she cannot render such goodness in another work scene at this age outside politics? Would someone fail to render such goodness by virtue of his age being above 60 years while in work outside politics and then be able to render it as a president or a governor above 60 years of age for that matter?

Clearly, there is no sense in this constitutional implementation corruption. This unfortunate constitutional bipod only paves a path for retired crooks to unconstitutionally keep working as leaders in Nigeria after 60 years and by so doing, send the country to the doldrums everywhere. There is an urgent need for legal understanding of the scientific question of ‘why’ under this bipod standard in the courts.

The subject of pursuit in this regard shall be that of why the constitution chooses 60 years as a general retirement age for working outside politics and not inside without specifying the differences between the two works. This claim of no difference holds good since a political office enjoys all and even extra benefits of any other work office in Nigeria and in a shorter time.

A good point to start this implementation drive is to seek a legal framework and understanding of what constitutionally differentiates a political office from any office that permits a political office holder to work after 60 years of age and same does not permit another office occupier outside of politics to also work after attaining 60 years of age. In the light of this retirement age argument, it is in order to say that no person shall be allowed to contest an executive position if he/she or is above 52 years so that after two tenures, he/she turns 60 years and then retires.  Though, someone within 52 years to 56 years can seek to govern for a single tenure.

The other way is the direct approach where the teeming masses are mobilised to stop electing those the constitution call retirees (above 60) to occupy executive offices for our collective good. This action would put the country on the right track by ensuring that those in executive positions are energetic enough to steer needed  growth and development and could face court cases with their strengths intact after their tenures if found wanting.


Dr Sani  is of University of Eswatini, Kingdom of Eswatini



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