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Reverse Ageism as a Tool to Gag Criticism in Nigeria

By Farooq Kperogi Twitter: @farooqkperogi A few days ago, I filled out an online form with my 5-year-old daughter, which required us to indi...

By Farooq Kperogi

Twitter: @farooqkperogi

A few days ago, I filled out an online form with my 5-year-old daughter, which required us to indicate our dates of birth using a drop-down menu. Her birth year is 2017, so I filled out her birth date in a breeze.

Then it came time to fill out mine. I zapped through the 2020s, the 2010s, the 2000s, the 1990s, the 1980s, and finally got to the end of the 1970s. 

My daughter, who was watching with bated breath as I scrolled down the drop-down menu, said, “Whew! That was long! You’re so old, dad! Is 1973 the year the world started?”

My ribs almost ripped from intensely uproarious laughter. She made me feel like a living ancestor!

I recall this incident because a friend called my attention to a nescient screed written by some 60-something-year-old “activists” against me that was nothing more than unwarranted gerontocratic condescension. 

One of the "activists" said unlike he and others who have been “activists” since forever, I came to activism “much, much later as a Bayero University, Kano undergraduate in the early 1990s, a few years to the demise of the original NANS.”🤣

Another said he has “been around this our movement (with all modesty) for the last four decades plus. I didn’t hear of Farooq apart from his having been a journalist with the Trust newspaper brand.” 🤣🤣What in the world has that got to do with anything?

While my daughter made me feel like the surviving relic of prehistoric Man, the “old” rubes who’re vaunting their activist credentials as a substitute for substance made me feel like a preteen--or even a toddler.

The issue that got their dander up was my criticism of INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu and INEC Commissioner Festus Okoye whom I described in a tweet as “some of the most corrupt INEC officials Nigeria has ever had”—and for whom “honor and integrity mean nothing.”

I made the assertion with the benefit of deep, intimate knowledge of the goings-on at INEC, which an August 9 Sahara Reporters story exposed, but these self-described “activist” Methuselahs think I have to be as old as, or older than, they are to unmask the fraud of their comrades-in-scam.

One of Nigeria’s enduringly lumbering cultural burdens is that it’s hopelessly trapped in regressive reverse ageism, i.e., the idea that only old age, not youth or knowledge, should confer authority on people. 

Everyone who is older than the next person thinks his numerical age bestows some superiority on him over another. 

Emotional and intellectual age are immaterial in this culture of reverse ageism, so that even emotionally and cognitively immature dimwits trapped in adults’ bodies think of themselves as superior to biologically younger but intellectually superior people because of the accidents of their years of birth.

But if you’re older than someone, someone is also older than you are, and the person you’re older than is also older than someone else. It’s an infinite continuum.

Only backward, lowbrow bumpkins are hung up on age and invoke it to delegitimize valid criticism that they can’t confront with the resources of logic and evidence. 

Anyone who is over the age of 25 is a full-grown adult.

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