The debate might never be fully conclusive about the extent to which youthful exuberance and age-old experience can go in the management of public affairs. Over the years, many have complained that those who ought to retire have persistently occupied spaces that are meant for the youth. While some see the zeal by the younger generation to contribute in nation-building or societal activities a sense of impatience to push out the older generation, others think the presence of the aging in decision-making position is an obstacle to emerging youth.
As the discussions continue in public and private places, the address the President Paul Biya made on 10 February 2021 at the eve of the 55th Youth Day in Cameroon aptly focused the discourse on institutional provisions in the country. The Head of State recalled that the completion of the institutional provisions of the 18 January 1996 Constitution in Cameroon offers a golden opportunity for the youth in Cameroon to fully participate in the political life of the nation. The declaration could be measured from the number of new-comers who occupied political space following the 9 February 2020 Legislative and Council elections in the country as well as the 6 December 2020 Regional Council election. Critics have projected their gaze only on the head of the Regional Councils forgetting to see that within the councils, several young men and women as well as young traditional rulers across the country have taken advantage of the electoral consultations to assert themselves within the political landscape in Cameroon.
By getting into either the National Assembly, Local Councils or Regional Assemblies, the youths are making good use of the existing Constitutional provisions to create a niche for themselves and take an active part in contributing to national life. Even going back to the 2018 Presidential election, several young Cameroonians came up with political parties that gave their long existing political opponents a run for their money. Such instances do constitute legal avenues for those who want to take an active part in the affairs of the society to table informed and acceptable views towards the wellbeing of their society.
Opportunities of this nature render the debate over the exclusion of certain parts of the community from national life sterile. It is true that just seeing certain persons in place may serve as deterrent to others but there is need for smooth generational transition that allows people to courageously argue out their idea in a political arena that is governed by legal texts. Any attempt to deviate from such an organised mode of functioning can easily lead to anarchy. Unfortunately, the advent of the social media, existence of open debate and the multiplicity of political parties has at times been construed as license for chaos. The destruction and mayhem that such unfortunate shift from the norm have often created leave no one in doubt that Cameroon like any modern State must be crafted along the line on existing and acceptable institutional values. By so doing, people will have to know that the solution to differences can only be found through acceptable mechanisms known to society and not violence and destruction.
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Since the youth make up the bulk of the population in the country, and stand a better chance to benefit from the putting in place of a societal values that guarantee peace, security and development for all, it is fitting that the Head of State in his position as President of Cameroon should come out strong on the importance for youth to stay within the norm. Calls of this nature may never be overdone, no matter the number of times that those in power will want to insist on. Recent memories are still fresh on instances whereby the youth easily get derailed by some sought of mirage and perfectionistic discourse that fails to endorse real life issues. But all indications point to the fact that those who aspire to public life and want to be heard must have to submit to the existing institutional provisions so as to ensure meaningful changes in the management of their societies and the country at large.