The African Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) has urged Ghana to learn from the French experience and give more opportunities to young people to occupy leadership roles, especially the presidency.
ACILA Executive Director William Nyarko said young people have potential and the country needs to think progressively rather than placing barriers in the way of people because of age.
“I am not in favour of putting a cap starting from 40 years before somebody can become a president,” he told Dr Etse Sikanku on Class FM’s World Affairs programme on Friday, May 12.
Newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron is 39 and is regarded as a man who has upset the political status quo in France away from the conservative political system.
Mr Nyarko stated that from age 20 onwards people have life experiences which may be useful in the governance of the country. He was of the view that even former President Jerry John Rawlings staged a coup to win power; he was able to govern even though he was below 40 at that time.
He was not enthused about age being a big issue in Ghana, saying the focus should instead be on a candidate “having an authority on ideas” to govern.
For him, many ideas have come from young people and setting the minimum presidential at age 40 is not the best. He cited global leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and others who have emerged as movers of economies at very young ages.
He was of the opinion that “hopefully the constitution could be amended and brought to 30 years” because we have legislators under 30 years who are serving well.
On her part Dr Amanda Coffie, a Research Fellow at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), encouraged the youth to embrace the spirit of volunteerism at a young age which helps to build experience instead of waiting to graduate and do national service “reluctantly”.
She highlighted that even though Mr Macron was young, he had worked in the banking sector and held a ministerial position which helped him gain experience.
For her the challenges in Africa are different from Europe and require some level of experience in order to provide solutions.
“There is a link between age and experience. Unfortunately we have an educational structure which does not encourage volunteerism and that is where you build experience from,” she noted.
Dr Coffie maintained that the country would need to adopt systems that build the capacity of young people to have the necessary experience to occupy leadership roles, especially the presidency.
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