Rarely is age used as a weapon to mock a politician in a rational society. A society like this keeps an eye out for any signs of abuse. They are aware that the deliberate use of force, in whatever form it takes, can result in humiliation, intimidation, as well as psychological pain or distress, so these can include but are not limited to neglect of physical, emotional, and psychological areas.
However, Chief Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate in the 2023 elections, is one individual who has been met with abuse of all kinds due to his age in Nigeria, where it appears that anything can go, especially in politics. Because many people believe that he is too old to be Nigeria's president, those who subscribe to this irrational notion make old age appear to be a crime in the nation, omitting the fact that "Old wine tastes fine."
The purpose of this article is not to promote Tinubu's electioneering campaign. Its purpose is to dispel the misconception that an elderly or ill person is of no use to the nation. But those who hold an opposing view against Tinubu do not recognize the greater implications of such an attitude toward old age.
Whether Nigerians agree or not, it is evidence that one of the most significant social shifts of the twenty-first century is expected to be the aging of the population, according to "World Population Prospects: According to the 2017 Revision." The number of older people, or people 60 and older, is expected to more than double by 2050 and more than triple by 2100.
This means that there were 962 million older people worldwide in 2017, as opposed to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. Although the United Nations establishes a global ratio of old age at 60, experts believe that 65 is typically considered old age because it is at this point in life that the rates of illness and death begin to significantly rise in comparison to earlier years.
While many Nigerians in the name of politics are perpetuating something that shouldn’t be normalized, in the time of our ancestors, aging was treated with much more respect and beauty. Is it more misunderstood than human value itself today, with people forgetting that it is a natural process that has accompanied people for generations but that there has been an uneven fight against wrinkles in recent years? As evidenced by the media, young people are led to believe that their happiness is determined by how beautiful and flawless they appear. But the opposite is true here!
As the literature on population aging expands, so does the abuse of Tinubu. Concerns ought to be raised regarding this negative trend. The difficulties posed by an aging population for existing social and economic structures should be of greater concern to the general public. If 60 is thought to be the average age of old age, many politicians and their supporters who insult Tinubu on social media and in mainstream media are either over 60 or have one or more health issues. As if they would never age or fall ill, people simply abuse others because of circumstances they would never choose for themselves. The fact that many people are unaware of the repercussions they are inflicting upon themselves by abusing elderly or ill individuals poses a threat.
Those who are now old may have believed they would always be young. On September 11, 2022, an analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-Large, stated that the current President of the United States is 79 years old. While Nigerians make fun of their elderly citizens for the sake of politics, the US House speaker is 82 years old.
The leader of the US Senate majority is 71 years old. At the beginning of 2021, the oldest senator in American history was on average 64.3 years old. The American public does not agree on many things, “but this is one: simply put, our politicians are too old,” said the analyst.
In addition, the conventional age measurement is retroactive. It informs Nigerians of a person's life expectancy. But because they don't take into account changes in life expectancy, this is only a partial measure. Life expectancy serves as a common reference point for the concepts of young and old. It was learned that US President Joe Biden is 79 years old. Shortly after the 2024 election, he will turn 82.
Biden has already been elected to his first term as president, making him the oldest person ever. Now, Americans are debating the appropriate age limit for public office. According to Cillizza's report, 4 in 10 Americans selected the age of 70 as the most common response in the CBS poll.
One in four (26%) agreed that an individual should not be older than 60 to hold an elected position, while 18% agreed that the age limit should be 80. Therefore, how old is Tinubu?
Despite the fact that Nigerians assert that they require new leadership, which of the presidential candidates is not actually older? Even though yours truly is a fervent supporter of Donald John Trump, an American politician, media personality, and businessman who was the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021, Wikipedia says that Trump earned a bachelor's degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.
Trump was born on June 14, 1946, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in New York, New York, USA. He is 76 years old and might also be running for president of the United States in 2024.
Keep in mind that, as stated earlier, the purpose of this article was not to support Tinubu in his political endeavors but rather to respect the elderly. Despite the fact that many are concerned about the prospective age, which is tailored to the future, the chronological age—also referred to as the "retrospective age"—should not be abused.
In order for the younger generation to comprehend that getting older is normal and will be a part of life in the future, it is past time to stop referring to old age as an insult and begin to view it as a good thing and a source of attractiveness.
Onwumere is Director, Advocacy Network on Religious and Cultural Coexistence (ANORACC), Rivers state. WhatsApp: +2348032552855.