CAN’T YOU SEE WE ARE READY?
”WE ARE THE NATION, WE ARE PART OF THIS…”- T.Y BELLO
England’s first and only Jewish Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The youth of a nation are the trustees of prosperity”. For any nation to relegate these set of people to the back seats of its political arena, then, such nation must be prepared to sign a contract with stagnation, poverty, and ultimately, extinction!
Noises are gathering decibels, runners are gathering momentum, and strategists are looking for more “tactical manoeuvres” as we approach the deciding moments of 2015. Chaos is brewing and arguments in their finest variations are flying around in many colours , PDP vs. APC, Jonathan vs. Buhari, Buhari vs. Atiku, North vs. South, F.G vs. Boko Haram, Ebola champions vs. Opportunists and so on. But the one before this honourable court today, is a topic that has been around since the re-inception of Democracy in 1999; the readiness of youths in taking over the rudder of the Nigerian ship. However, my lords, I see this argument as completely needless; for what purpose do we still ask an orange pumpkin, if it’s ripe or not?
Before we erroneously mix the green leaves with the brown ones, it is pertinent for us to know the actual set of people going by the word “youth” as opposed to the old men that paraded themselves as such. The Nigeria National Youth Policy expressly states that “The youth shall comprise of all young males and females aged 18 – 35 years, who are citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” It should also be noted that according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria has a youthful population of about 80 million which constitutes roughly 60% of the total population. Considering this large percentage of the Nigerian youth, it is quite saddening to note that the topmost areas of our political landscapes are still largely dominated by the over 50s and over 70s. However, the question posed still continues to dance “shoki “, “are the youth ready?”
For some people like the former Governor of Lagos state, Sen. Bola Tinubu, the youth may not be ready for governance. For him, “…the young ones have not demonstrated some qualities that will assure Nigerians that they are ready for leadership.” However, the present situations of things aggressively negate that position. Against popular notion, youths are considerably spread in governance across the country, ranging from Special Advisers, Commissioners, Honourables, and Local Government Chairmen, to ward Councillors. For the fact that the youth representatives are not that much in these areas or that they are not allowed to occupy positions like Governors, Ministers and President does not in any way play down their readiness.
The stories of the amazing feats our youths are achieving proudly stand to our faces every day. Nigerian entrepreneurs in their late teens and early twenties to early thirties grace various Forbes lists due to their exceptional leadership qualities, astute managerial skills and administrative competence [well, if you have trust issues, you can ‘google’ “Nigerians on Forbes’ list”]. My lords, I speak of young people like, Adebola Williams, Japhet Omojuwa, Tunde Kehinde, Kayode Disu, Bankole Cardoso, Gbolagade Adetunji, Ladi Delano, Aisha Suleiman Achimugu, Jason Njoku, Leke Ojikutu, Seun Osewa, Ola Orekunrin and a host of others whose names space may not permit me to reel out. These are youths that have almost single-handedly built empires not just in the country, but also across the continents. The present economic face of Nigeria would not have been possible without the inputs of these dynamic young thinkers and excellent innovators. It is not possible to have these kinds of people and still maintain that the youth of this nation are not ready.
If the question is “are the youth ready?” then my response would be, “how else can we be ready?” Because in the spirit of our readiness; many of the student leaders now nurse ambitions for 2015 elections and beyond. In terms of being ready for elected positions, we cannot be more ready. And with that of political appointments, it is hightime our old leaders got it that we are ready and we must be considered. At this junction I agree no less with my brother and a UI alumnus, Ohimai Godwin Amaize, when he proposed to the National Conference that there must be “consideration and adoption of a 30 percent representation of Nigerian Youth in all political appointments at federal, state and local government levels irrespective of the political party in power”
Finally, if at this moment anyone still thinks we are not ready, then the fellow must be suffering from a mental disease we are yet to discover. I rest my case.
READY? I DEY LAUGH O
“OUR LABORATORY OF IGNORANCE MAY BE OUR GREATEST ASSET”-GIMBA KAKANDA
Dearreader, I welcome you back to school. I wish you a great semester not forgetting to ask your creator to keep you safe from every manifestation of madness that lies on the road to 2015.
As a welcome back gift, I share below, a vision I saw sometime before the first semester examination:
In the year Ajimobi came to Unibadan’s Students’ Union building, I saw my muse surfing the net via one of the false wireless internet connections available in the halls of residence. I write of the year a 42-year-old man became the President of the National association of Nigerian students, the same year NANS bestowed the Mandela icon award on old-war-horse, Chief Bode George.
Above my muse stood students from Zik, Kuti, Indy, Bello, Mellanby, and Tedder halls of residence, who are perhaps some of the favoured lot of the Nigerian youth populace. And the students shouted at the top of their voices: ‘Mr. President, Mr. President, woe betide you if you don’t share this #500,000. If you try any nonsense, we will destroy this building, we were all here when the Governor said it is money for the boys’. And the building truly shook under the weight of these youths that gathered to wrestle for their shares of the national cake (you can replace cake with your favourite snack).
So I said: ‘Blessed is me, for I have seen what most Nigerian youths need to see to agree with those who have tagged our generation unfit to steer the ship of the nation.’
So I was trying to start this piece and my muse came back saying “hey, why do you seek what is not lost? What you seek in Sokoto is in your “Sokoto”; are these folks in your school not part of this category of Nigerians? Or are you training some youths somewhere that I do not know of? Some of the best human signifiers of your generation’s readiness to govern Nigeria and change the course of history are around you. Ready my foot! I dey laff o”
Most of the reasons given by movers of the readiness argument are not just shaky; they are emaciated like victims of some deadly disease. I have once stated it on this platform that anyone who has not studied the past has no business with the future. He/ she will only be like a stone far flung in trajectory, having no course. Without history, intellectual rituals are nothing, without it no reformer can boldly point to the junction that best deserves the sacrifices of thought. This generation of mine harbours folks that know little about their lineage not to talk of this nation. Need I say I was not surprised when Asiwaju Babatunde Badmus, the immediate past “Leader” of University of Ibadan students, stated in one of his few communiqués that Kunle Adepeju was shot in front of Zik hall!
Have you sought to know the priority of the average Nigerian youth? Folks who are desperate to have their share of the fast diminishing national cake could not have become bakers overnight. The intellectual rigour needed to occupy the centre stage is absent in the greater percentage of this generation; we seem to have more knowledge about the fastest ways to hit millions, the best ways to get your ideal girl or guy, than we do on governance. When folks put up posts like “after this exam, even poster I no go read”, one does not need to go far before knowing the cause of this epidemic I love to call “intellectual kwarshiokor”. No apologies, a house built on falsehood cannot stand; if we do not read, how can we be ready to lead? Which ideas are we going there to put into action?
Most of those that fall under the little percentage that claim to belong to the right wing are mere pretenders; I laugh when some folks who go abroad for youth conferences take pride in the pictures they take with fellow participants. You have many of them as ‘friends’ on Facebook and other platforms, have they ever posted anything as regards the discourses they had in such conferences? For where? They are not quite different from most of our legislators who never contribute to proceedings, ever shouting like goats when they are required to say aye or nay!
The Nigerian youth has not shown traces of readiness, this echoes in the praxes that prompt those who call us unspeakable names. If you are still in doubt, google search “today’s youths…”
I rest my case!
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom.
NIGERIAN GOVERNANCE: ARE THE YOUTH READY?
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