Demola Rewaju: Dreams of the old men; visions of the young (Y! Superblogger)

by Demola Rewaju


The Hebrew prophet Joel once said “Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” What is the difference between both?

I put up this post on Saturday towards evening as a reaction to the list of delegates to the national conference proposed by the Federal Government. The list frustrated me to no end and got me deeply upset yet in my principled mode of thinking, I refused to blame anybody else but my generation. The post quickly went viral to my surprise with dozens of likes, comments and 28 shares:

“The National Conference delegates list is a huge disappointment for me as a youth of this nation. To see old men in their 70s and 80s makes me wonder whether we are discussing the past or future of Nigeria. If it is the future, the youths should be in greater numbers but this is not the case.

Rather than blame the FG, State Gov’ts or other groups that nominated (which is what we usually do) perhaps we should look inwards and ask ourselves the simple question that follows this short analysis:

Awolowo (37), Akintola (36), Ahmadu Bello (36) Balewa (34) and Okotie-Eboh (27) led the struggle for independence after the death of Macaulay. Only Zik was 42 at the time.

In 1966, the first coup was led by: Kaduna Nzeogwu (29) and countered by Murtala Mohammed (28), Theophilus Danjuma (28), Babangida (25), Nanven Garba (23), Sani Abacha (23), Shehu Musa Yaradua (23) and brought into power Gowon (32), Ojukwu (33), Obasanjo (29? [Even Baba is no longer sure of his age these days]), Buhari (24).

Answering a question posed a year ago by Dieko Gilbert on Inspiration 92.3 FM whether our youths are prepared to take over leadership, I answered in the affirmative but I was lying and I did so shamelessly. My answer still haunts me till today (but if they ever ask me anywhere in public again, I will lie again, so help me God).

MY QUESTION: How many of us in our late 20s, early 30s and even early 40s are prepared for leadership at a national or state level beyond mere talk, Facebook criticism and area-boyish gragra?


(Hint to answer: If you dare blame Gov’t or leadership, it means you haven’t learnt the rule of personal responsibility and you’ve missed the answer already).”

It’s all too easy to put the blame on everyone else but I am yet unaware of anyone who changed his fortune or those of others by putting the blame on others. Conversely, those who internalise the experiences of life profit by them and become better at dealing in the world of reality.

I have long believed that a national conference by any name is an exercise in futility where you have the democratic structures in place to carry out the same conversation. If people do not trust their representatives you build it through credible electoral institutions not looking for a shortcut to achieving proper nationhood or national coherence. On the flipside, the people also have a responsibility to understand how a democracy works and use those structures to their own advantage. Bringing matters of concern to the notice of your representatives at the states and national houses of lawmaking is an example.

While I do not believe in a national conference as the panacea to all our problems or even some of them, it falls within my right as a Nigerian and my duty as a public analyst to comment on the modus operandi and with those on the list, we have succeeded only in submitting the worst ethnic heroes and local champions of our time with only few names on the list holding the possibility of a proper national conversation. Leaving that aside though, let me quickly explain why I feel the delegates are simply too old.

The Hebrew prophet Joel once said “Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.” What is the difference between both?

A dream is a construct of our own perception actuated by experiences we receive and partake within. They are fundamental and controllable depending on what we see and how we perceive those images.

A vision, however is quite a different aspect of perception, because[unlike a premonition] it is not our thought. It is a reception of a foresight or insight of the future or of change. We view these in a metaphysical sense and can view these at any moment within our lives depending upon our state of mind and perception of the message.

Simply put: dreams are from experience, visions are from imagination. Old men dream because their best days are ahead of them. Young men see visions because their best days are yet ahead of them. If we are serious about creating a working document for our national development over the next hundred years, why select mostly men who are closer to the grave than the living? What sense of ownership would those of us in our late 20s, 30s and 40s have over any decision reached when our time finally comes?

As Tunde Leye points out in this beautiful piece he wrote here a while ago from where I got most of my statistics above. He also sent me a table of the average age when most leaders in Nigeria came into power and I may expound on these thoughts later in the week.

Incidentally, Tunde Leye hosted us at a great event at Ember Creek on Awolowo Road. It was the prizegiving ceremony of the second edition of his Write Right online literary competition and the winner was Ifeoluwa Watson. Just being there for me was refreshing: to see Femi Leye playing the guitar and Nayo delivering a melodious tune along with it. Ekene Ngige, someone with some physical limitation painted a lovely picture based on the winning story, we watched a short animation clip of Tunde Leye’s Baba Risi’s Court.

I got to meet Tunde Leye’s beautiful and supportive lover, an older than our generation writer – Chima Nwokolo and two readers of this blog – Chuka Ngonadi and Miss Afang. Chuka came with his colleague from the Lagos Law School and later described me as ‘humble and cheerful’ on twitter while Miss Afang (a huge shame I forgot her first name but I finally have an idea what a radiologist does) and I took pictures with TL.

Readers like these two and everyone else keep me going and I was just grateful to be with positive youths yesterday. TL is a great inspiration and I wish him greater success in all he does. If he posts pixes from the event or if Miss Afang would be kind enough to send them to me, I might edit this post and put some up.


Demola Rewaju blogs from


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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