Saturday, July 27, 2019

How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I was one of seven professors who facilitated a leadership training in my university here in Georgia for local government chairmen from a major Nigerian southwestern state. In the course of the training, I adverted to a January 13, 2018 column I wrote about how power literally damages the brains of people who wield it and causes them to be dissociated from reality.

A few of the chairmen at the training initially said they “rejected” what I said “in Jesus’ name.” But the more I expounded the research on the psychology of power, the less resistant they became. In the light of the interest it excited among these local power wielders, I thought I’d share a revised version of the column for the benefit of other people in power.

On Nov. 20, 2014, Buhari, Amaechi, Oyegun and other APC honchos protested in Abuja against the increased insecurity and killings in the country. Insecurity and killings are worse on their watch than at any time in peacetime Nigeria.

Almost everyone I know wonders why people in power change radically; why they become so utterly disconnected from reality that they suddenly become completely unrecognizable to people who knew them before they got to power; why they get puffed-up, susceptible to flattery, and intolerant of even the mildest, best-intentioned censure; why they appear possessed by inexplicably malignant forces; and why they are notoriously insensitive and self-absorbed.

Everyone who has ever had a friend in a position of power, especially political power, can attest to the accuracy of the age-old truism that a friend in power is a lost friend. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is precisely the fact of the existence of exceptions that makes this reality poignant. As the saying goes, “the exception proves the rule.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Look at all the power brokers in Nigeria—from the president to your ward councilor—and you’ll discover that there is a vast disconnect between who they were before they got to power and who they are now.

Also look at previously arrogant, narcissistic, power-drunk prigs who have been kicked out of the orbit of power for any number of reasons. You’ll discover that they are suddenly normal again. They share our pains, make pious noises, condemn abuse of power, and identify with popular causes. The legendary amnesia of Nigerians causes the past misdeeds of these previous monsters of power to be explained away, lessened, forgiven, and ultimately forgotten. But when they get back to power again, they become the same insensitive beasts of power that they once were.

So what is it about power that makes people such obtuse, self-centered snobs? It turns out that psychologists have been grappling with this puzzle for years and have a clue. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley, extensively studied the brains of people in power and found that people under the influence of power are neurologically similar to people who suffer traumatic brain injury.

According to the July/August 2017 issue of the Atlantic magazine, people who are victims of traumatic brain injury are “more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.” In other words, like victims of traumatic brain injury, power causes people to lose their capacity for empathy. This is a surprising scientific corroboration of American historian Henry Adams’ popular wisecrack about how power is “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.”

The findings of Sukhvinder Obhi, a professor of neuroscience at McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada, are even more revealing. Obhi also studies the workings of the human brain. “And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, ‘mirroring,’ that may be a cornerstone of empathy,” the Atlantic reports. “Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the ‘power paradox’: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.”

Take Buhari, for example. Before 2015, he was—or at least appeared to be—empathetic. He supported subsidies for the poor, railed against waste, thought Nigerians deserved to buy petrol at a low price because Nigerian oil was “developed with Nigerian capital,” and so on. He even said foreign medical treatment for elected government officials was immoral and indefensible, and wondered why a Nigerian president would need a fleet of aircraft when even the British Prime Minister didn’t have any.

Nothing but power-induced brain damage, which activates narcissism and loss of empathy, can explain Buhari’s dramatic volte-face now that he’s in power. This fact, psychological researchers say, is worsened by the fact that subordinates tend to flatter people in power, mimic their ways in order to ingratiate themselves with them, and shield them from realities that might cause them psychic discomfort.

“But more important, Keltner says, is the fact that the powerful stop mimicking others,” the Atlantic reports. “Laughing when others laugh or tensing when others tense does more than ingratiate. It helps trigger the same feelings those others are experiencing and provides a window into where they are coming from. Powerful people ‘stop simulating the experience of others,’ Keltner says, which leads to what he calls an ‘empathy deficit.’”

Researchers also found out that excessive praise from subordinates, sycophantic drooling from people seeking favors, control over vast resources they once didn’t have, and all of the staid rituals and performances of power conspire to cause “functional” changes to the brains of people in power. On a social level, it also creates what Lord David Owen, a British neurologist-turned-politician, called the “hubris syndrome” in his 2008 book titled In Sickness and in Power.

Some features of hubris syndrome, Owen points out, are, “manifest contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, restless or reckless actions, and displays of incompetence.” Sounds familiar? You can’t observe Buhari’s governance—or, more correctly, ungovernance—in the last four years and fail to see these features in him.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Powerful people can, and indeed do, extricate themselves from the psychological snares of power if they so desire. Professor Keltner said one of the most effective psychological strategies for people in power to reconnect with reality and reverse the brain damage of power is to periodically remember moments of powerlessness in their lives—such as when they were victims natural disasters, accidents, poverty, etc.

They should also have what American journalist Louis McHenry Howe once called a “toe holder,” that is, someone who doesn’t fear them, expects no favors from them, and can tell them uncomfortable truths without fear of consequences.

Winston Churchill’s toe holder was his wife, who once wrote a letter to him that read, in part, “I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not as kind as you used to be.” Was Aisha Buhari performing the role of a toe holder when she publicly upbraided her husband in the past? I doubt it.

Her disagreements with her husband are often opportunistic and self-serving. They are triggered only when her husband’s puppeteers in Aso Rock limit her powers to nominate her cronies for political positions and to dispense favors to friends and family.

Another potent way to reverse power-induced brain damage is to periodically get out of the protected silos of power and solitarily observe the quotidian interactions of everyday folks—their humor, laughter, fights, etc. — without the familiar add-ons of power, such as aides, cameras, security, etc. This helps to stimulate the experiences of others and restore empathy.

This is particularly important in Nigeria because power, at all levels, is almost absolute and unaccountable.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A “Technically” Incompetent Chief Justice of Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

A trending video clip of the senate confirmation hearing of Chief Justice of Nigeria Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, which shows him betraying mortifying ignorance of the meaning of the term “technicality,” aggrandizes the point I made in my April 20, 2019 column titled “Atiku’s Citizenship and Buhari’s Illiterate Lawyers” about Buhari’s love affair with incompetence and mediocrity.

I noted that, “The law of attraction says like attracts like, which explains why Muhammadu Buhari is a magnet for mediocrities. Almost all his appointees are, like him, underwhelming, intellectually incurious rubes.” Justice Tanko is the latest instantiation of Buhari’s passion for attracting and elevating people who mirror his own well-known incompetence and witlessness.

First, here is a brief background for people who are not clued in on the exchange that exposed the soft underbelly of the awkward, cringe-worthy ignorance of Nigeria’s Chief Justice. Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe asked Tanko if he thought it made legal and moral sense to pervert the merit of cases before the Supreme Court on the basis of “mere technicality.”

Abaribe reminded Tanko that, “In the 2018 case of Akeredolu vs Abraham, the Supreme Court said, ‘technicality in the administration of justice shuts out justice.’…It is therefore better to have a case heard and determined on its merit than to leave the court with the shield of victory obtained on mere technicality.”

Nevertheless, in spite of the legal precedent the Supreme Court has set regarding the primacy of legal merit of cases over their technicalities in the dispensation of justice, Abaribe pointed out, the Supreme Court this year ruled against PDP’s Ademola Adeleke of Osun State not because his case lacked merit but on the basis of a frivolous technicality.

All this passed over Tanko’s head. He had not the haziest idea what “technicality” meant and went off on a puzzling tangent. “Permit me, distinguished senators, to ask what a technicality is,” he said. “It is something which is technical. By definition, it is something that is not usual and may sometimes defy all the norms known to a normal thing. Now, we have technicalities in our laws and this is because these laws we have inherited were from the British.”

Ha! You can’t make this stuff up! He continued: “Now, if something which is technical comes before the court, what we do in trial courts is to ask people who are experts in that field to come and testify. We rely on their testimony because they are experts in that field.

“Ask me anything about an aeroplane, I don’t know. Ask me to drive [sic] an aeroplane, I am sure if you are a passenger and they told you that the flight is going to be driven [sic] by Honourable Justice Ibrahim Tanko, I am sure you will get out of the plane because it is something that requires technicality and if I have any technicality, my technicality will only be limited to law.”

If I didn’t watch the video myself, I would have dismissed the response attributed to Tanko as an ill-willed spoof intentionally designed to diminish his estimation. Although I know that spectacular ignorance and vulgar loyalty are the most crucial criteria to be considered worthy of consideration for appointment in Buhari’s regime, I am still distressed both by the disconcerting know-nothingness Tanko evinced in his response to Abaribe and by the fact that he is head of Nigeria’s judiciary.

Tanko isn’t just any judge; he is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. He didn’t just study law; he has a Ph.D. in law from one of Nigeria’s finest universities— at a time when Nigeria’s education supposedly still had integrity. And facility for and proficiency in language (in Nigeria’s case the English language) and logical disputation are as central to the job of lawyers and judges as farming instruments are to the job of being a farmer.

If Tanko doesn’t know what a “technicality” is, what does he really know? Every averagely educated person knows that in conversational English, a “technicality” is an unimportant detail, a triviality. In law, it means a procedural trifle. This legal sense of the term is now so commonplace that it has diffused to everyday discourse. Why would a judge of nearly 40 years’ standing, a PhD in law, and the head of the nation’s judicial branch of government not know what a technicality is?

But what is even more disquieting is that Tanko inadvertently revealed ignorance of the precedent established by the Supreme Court in which he has served for more than 12 years. Had he read the Supreme Court judgement Abaribe referenced, he would have at least encountered the word “technicality.” He apparently wasn’t, probably still isn’t, aware that the Supreme Court had even laid a precedent that says the Court should not use procedural inanities to subvert the legal merit of cases.

It must be precisely this ignorance that led the Supreme Court to dismiss Ademola Adeleke’s bid to retrieve his stolen mandate from the current governor of Osun State. The Supreme Court didn’t even evaluate Adeleke’s weighty, water-tight case against Oyetola; it ruled against Adeleke just because one of the panelists on the election tribunal that had restored Adeleke’s stolen mandate was absent for one day out of the 180 days the election tribunal tried the petition. 

That was a bewildering reversal of the Supreme Court’s own precedent. All over the world, courts rely on precedents to adjudicate current cases. Precedents may be modified, but they are rarely overturned without a compelling reason, certainly not within a few years after they were established. That is what legal scholars call stare decisis, that is, the doctrine that courts should follow precedent. A Chief Justice that is ignorant about something as basic as “technicality” is unlikely to know what “precedent” means, much less something as rarefied as the doctrine of stare decisis.

After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oyetola, I wrote on social media that the ruling was judgment, not justice. In spite of suppositions to the contrary, “judgment” and “justice” are not synonymous. Some judgements pervert justice. The Adeleke vs Oyetola case is a classic example of that. Sadly, the distinction between judgement and justice will become starker, bolder, and more invidious now that we have an unbelievably ignorant and incompetent Chief Justice who heads a Supreme Court that's now an unabashedly "remote controllable" extension of Aso Rock.

 Even feeble pretenses to democracy and decency are now dead in Buhari’s Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar’s petition against Buhari’s unexampled electoral fraud has no chance of success in a Supreme Court that overturns its less than one-year-old precedent, that is headed by a nescient and inept chief justice who doesn’t know the meaning of basic terms that are crucial to the administration of justice, and who owes debt to an audacious electoral mandate snatcher for his position.

What is perhaps even more regrettable for me as a northerner is that Tanko has helped to feed the stereotype of the northern know-nothing who owes his rise in society to incestuous northern nepotistic patronage networks. Of course, it’s unfair to hold up Tanko’s obvious cognitive inferiority as representative of all northerners. There are way smarter, more educated northern lawyers than Tanko who nonetheless vegetate on the fringes.

 Our problem in the north has always been that we don’t put forward our best eleven, to use the common soccer analogy. We are often led by our worst. And we are all judged by the crass ignorance and indiscretions of our worst who nevertheless become our public face. Buhari is taking the elevation of wretched ignoramuses to important positions to the next level. How utterly sad.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Senator Abbo, APC, and Politics of Toxic Partisanship

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

The well-justified national outrage that was sparked by a video of first-term Adamawa Senator Ishaku Elisha Abbo assaulting a nursing mother has also highlighted the depth and toxicity of political partisanship in Nigeria. It shows that many Nigerians’ morality is mediated by political loyalties and primordial solidarity.  

My first, admittedly visceral, social media reaction to the video, which was shared widely, was to call Senator Abbo a “senatorial beast” and a “medieval idiot” who should be suspended from the senate as a first resort and recalled by his constituents as a final action. While the update was generally well-received a band of self-identified northern Christians launched vicious personal attacks on me on Twitter and attributed my condemnation of Senator Abbo to the fact of my being a northern Muslim.

Nonetheless, at the time I shared my update, I frankly had no awareness what Abbo’s religious identity was. I know enough about Adamawa to know that outside of Yola and Jimeta, religious identification merely from the sound of names is always tricky. Until he declared himself the “ambassador of Christ,” which was a day after my social media update, I had no idea that he was a Christian. Nor should it matter.

In any case, in spite of being a northern Muslim who has personally related with Buhari many times in the past and who has personal familiarity with several of his ministers and close aides, I am one of his severest critics. If I were a person who is animated by passions of religious and regional solidarity, I wouldn’t have stuck out my neck to become one of the most visible critics of this maladministration.

As I’ve mentioned here before, since 2016, at least three northern governors have reached out to me to arrange a “reconciliation” with Buhari. I froze off their overtures, not because I derive any joy in criticizing the Buhari regime for the hell of it but because it would be a betrayal both of Islam and of the ideals my father brought me up to internalize and cherish if I look the other way while Buhari smolders the foundations of Nigeria with his loathsome, unheard-of incompetence. Certainly not when I was also critical of past southern Christian presidents.

It’s also broadly true that the primary reason Senator Abbo’s barbarous brutality toward the innocent nursing mother is attracting official consequence is that he is not a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Had he been an APC member, the authenticity of the video would have been called into question, the same way Buhari wondered “what technology was used” to show Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano collecting kickbacks from contractors in several video clips.

The APC propaganda machine even hired an IT professional to write a column about “deepfake technology” just to muddle the waters and cast doubts on the authenticity of the obviously credible videos of the governor accepting bribes.

As I pointed out in a recent social media update, when I see Senator Abbo, I see a violent thug who should be in jail, who has no business being a senator, but APC minions see a PDP man who must be punished for not being an APC man. When I see Governor Ganduje, I also see a malefactor who should be in jail, but APC minions see a party man who must be defended and protected.

For instance, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, didn’t see an aggressive and violent assaulter when he looked at Abbo; she saw a PDP man. In a July 2, 2019 tweet, she wrote: “To think that this PDP guy was said to have ‘defeated’ one of our most respected female parliamentarians, Senator Binta Masi Garba. The Senate must not protect him. He should be charged. The footage is enough evidence. He deserves to be in Prison.”

It’s obvious that had Abbo been an APC man, which he was before he switched parties like all Nigerian politicians do, he would have been defended and protected by the APC propaganda machine. Being in APC cleanses sinners of their iniquities. APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole actually literally said that on January 17, 2019 in Benin City during a political rally. "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven,” he said.

 If Abbo rejoins APC today, the Senate would no longer investigate him, the police would let him off the hook, and his court case would be withdrawn. And this isn’t hyperbole. Danjuma Goje, a former two-term PDP governor of Gombe who is now an APC senator, has had his years-long N25 billion naira fraud trial by the EFCC summarily dismissed on July 4 after the president intervened.

About a month before a court in Jos dismissed the case, Goje had met with Buhari, withdrew his candidacy for the presidency of the senate, and pledged support for Ahmed Lawan, the presidency’s preferred candidate. Presidential protection from the consequences of his corruption was his recompense for his support for the executive takeover of the legislature.

Musiliu Obanikoro, former Minister of State for Defence in Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP government, also had his corruption trial dismissed after he defected to APC So was Godswill Akpabio, a former two-term PDP governor and Senate Minority Leader who defected to APC. That was precisely what Oshiomhole meant when he said, "Yes, once you join the APC, your sins are forgiven.”

This moral double standard isn’t exclusive to APC, to be sure. When PDP held sway, it also deployed law enforcement agencies to fight political battles and to reward loyalty. The EFCC was always an unthinking police dog doing the bidding of its master even during Obasanjo’s time. However, PDP wasn’t this brazen-faced in its assault on morality and basic decency.

 It had sense enough to deceive Nigerians with token, inconsequential convictions of its own people to justify going after its opponents. For instance, former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun was tried and found guilty of corruption. Former Minister of Internal Affairs Sunday Afolabi was tried over a $2 million contract scam.

Former Minister of Education Fabian Osuji was dismissed from Obasanjo’s cabinet and prosecuted over an alleged N55 million bribe. Bode George, a close political associate of Obasanjo’s and former PDP Deputy National Chairman, was tried, convicted, and jailed over an N84 billion fraud while he was chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa and Ayo Fayose of Ekiti were PDP governors who were impeached and removed from office for alleged corruption under a PDP government.

In Buhari’s regime, unfortunately, intelligence and common sense are so scarce that no one in the highest reaches of the power structure can even suggest, much less attempt, the replication of the sort of anti-corruption showmanship we saw under Obasanjo. No one can come up with the idea of trying and convicting a few corrupt party men to justify going after bigger political enemies.

In Buhari’s Nigeria, political loyalty is the currency with which to buy immunity from the consequences of corruption and other forms of moral turpitude. Abbo hasn’t learned that yet.

Buhari’s Incoming Ministers
Muhammadu Buhari said this week that he would only appoint people "I personally know" as ministers, which is another telltale signal of impending in-your-face nepotism and subnationalism. Given that he is a reclusive, inward-looking bigot who feels like fish out of water outside his primordial comfort zone, it’s easy to guess the type of people he "personally" knows.

Nonetheless, if personal familiarity with him is the sole criterion for appointing ministers, what's taking him so long? What's difficult about appointing his relatives, friends, and acquaintances as ministers? This man represents the worst of Nigeria, the personification of the vilest form of incompetence we ever witnessed as a country.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Buhari is the Single Greatest Danger to the Fulani

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Twitter: @farooqkperogi

On the surface, it sounds counterintuitive, even ridiculously counterfactual, to suggest that an unreflective Fulani supremacist like Muhammadu Buhari is the single greatest threat to members of his ethnic group. But it’s true. Here is why.

Although I had always been aware of this fact, it was actually a Fulani person who caused me to develop a heightened consciousness of it. In a lengthy phone conversation last weekend, a cosmopolitan Nigerian of Fulani ethnicity shared with me his deep worries about the deepening animus toward the Fulani all over Nigeria.

In his 1983 pamphlet titled The Trouble with Nigeria, Chinua Achebe talked of “the national resentment of the Igbo.” If Achebe were alive, he would probably agree that the Fulani have displaced the Igbo from this position. In most parts of Nigeria today, the Fulani are feared, resented, reviled, and avoided like never before.

To be sure, inter-ethnic relations have always been intensely conflictual right from Nigeria’s founding, and fear of “Fulani domination” is an enduring anxiety in both the South and in the Christian North. But the sort of mass resentment of the Fulani that has enveloped the country in the last few years since Buhari has been “president” has no precedent.

My Fulani interlocutor attributed this to Buhari’s unprecedentedly explicit favoritism toward the Fulani even when, as he said, “the favoritism does nothing to advance the living conditions of the average Fulani person.” Bloody farmer/herder clashes aren’t new, but they took a different dimension when Buhari appointed himself as the chief defender of and spokesperson for Fulani herders where studied neutrality from him would have been helpful.

He initially said the Fulani don’t have guns, only carry sticks, and therefore couldn’t be responsible for the bloodstained violence attributed to them. When the facts later incontrovertibly contradicted his claim, he changed tack and said the Fulani who murdered farmers with guns weren’t Nigerian Fulani. He said they were foreign Fulani.

“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya,” he said. “When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram.”

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of a particularly horrendous mass slaughter in Benue, which provoked mass outrage in the country, Buhari told Benue elders who came to plead for his intervention, “I ask you in the name of God to accommodate your countrymen.” The murderers can’t simultaneously be foreign Fulanis “trained and armed by Gaddadafi of Libya” and be the “countrymen” of their victims in Benue.

Everyone in the Buhari regime took a cue from the “president”: whatever you may do and say, never blame the Fulani for anything. That was why presidential spokesman Femi Adesina, in defense of “cattle colonies,” once told Nigerians to choose between their land and their lives. The defense minister also routinely blamed incessant bloodletting in the land on the enactment of “anti-grazing laws” in some states of the federation. Never mind that violent upheavals between farmers and herders predated “anti-grazing” laws and that they episodically erupt even in states that have no such laws, including in far northern states.

A day after herders massacred more than 200 people in Plateau State in June 2018, the presidency issued the following statement: "According to information available to the Presidency, about 100 cattle had been rustled by a community in Plateau State, and some herdsmen were killed in the process." No official investigation had been conducted when the statement was issued. The statement therefore came across as a knee-jerk defense of the herders by the presidency, which only inflamed passions.

Now, there is no difference between the president’s media team and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association. The president’s media team now customarily issues press statements to defend herders and even justify or explain away mass murders committed by herders.

As I said earlier, there is no parallel for this sort of naked ethnic partisanship in Nigeria’s entire history. When the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) became a mass murdering machine of northerners in Yorubaland, Obasanjo never defended them even once, even though OPC was fiercely pro-Obasanjo at the time. He gave orders to shoot on sight any OPC thug who disturbed the peace. Even at that, we in the North weren’t impressed. We wanted him to do more.

Only former president Goodluck Jonathan is on record as having defended the terrorism of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). In the aftermath of a terrorist attack in 2010, which MEND owned up to, Jonathan said, “We know those behind the attack and the persons sponsoring them. They are terrorists, not MEND. The name of MEND that operates in Niger Delta was only used. I grew up in the Niger Delta so nobody can claim to know Niger Delta than [sic] myself, because I am from Niger Delta.”

In an October 16, 2010 column titled “A MENDacious President,” I called out Jonathan’s “unreasoning ethno-regional chauvinism” and pointed out that no past president had ever defended the transgressions committed by his people so brazenly like he did. So did many other columnists. What we thought was Jonathan’s unexampled defense of the terrorism of his kinfolk has now paled in comparison with Buhari’s.

As my friend pointed out, when a father of many children, through his words and deeds, habitually shows undisguised preference to one child, he unwittingly exposes that child to envy, hatred, and even gang-up among his siblings. It’s a natural human instinct.

The “Ruga” initiative, which had been unwisely called “cattle colonies,” provoked raw emotions because it was perceived as yet another intentional act of parental indulgence to a favored, pampered child to the exclusion of others.

Nevertheless, it helps to remember that the Fulani are just as human as anyone else, and there are several of them who are uncomfortable with the current state of affairs. But the current climate of unreasoning mass panic makes it seem like Fulanis are an undifferentiated collective of murderous villains. That’s both dangerous and inaccurate. Buhari shares the largest blame in this.

Misplaced Focus on Senator Abbo's Age
The average life expectancy for Nigerian men, according to the World Health Organization, is 54.7 years, yet many Nigerians call a 41-year-old senator a "youth" and attribute his thuggish idiocy to his age. Some even go so far as to say that his behavior represents a diminution of the arguments for the "Not Too Young To Run" initiative.

For starters, a 41-year-old person is NO "youth" by any definition of the term anywhere in the world. The UN defines youth as people between the ages of 15 and 24. In Nigeria, “youth” officially refers to people between the ages of 18 and 35. Second, Senator Abbo didn't need the "Not Too Young to Run” law be to be a senator. The original minimum age requirement to be a senator was 35. He is 41. That means he would have been qualified to run for the senate—and even for the presidency since the minimum age to be president was 40—even if the bill hadn't been passed into law.

Third, most past Nigerian military dictators ruled Nigeria in their 30s. Why are we making it seem like it's an undeserved favor to allow young people to rule? Abbo is a violent bully; his age is immaterial to this fact.