By - Adedoyin Shittu
Nigeria is one of those nations in the world whose youth population forms the heart of abounding and blossoming young workers and the Nigerian youths are all around the world doing wonders and breaking barriers. The Nigerian youth is the nation’s present and future but the country has failed to define them and has now set the present generation of youths on edge. Sadly the Nigerian youth have also failed to stand up against misrule and bad leadership.
Despite the blossoming population of the Nigerian youth, they are not adequately represented in areas that matter to them and their future including politics and they are relegated to the sidelines on things concerning their development. Those who decide their fate currently have been at it for close to five decades, passing power from one hand to the other like members of a relay team taking turns to complete a race.
The sad part of everything is that they are cheated out of what the same set doing the cheating enjoyed. The present ruling class in Nigeria lived in the best of the moments of Nigeria’s flow in milk and honey. They had freebies on unimaginable scales. They went to school on the bills of regional governments or multinationals companies and came out of school with jobs, accommodation, cars and other perks awaiting them. These same people who enjoyed the best of what Nigeria has to offer have frittered the resources of the country and left the country in ruins, they have looted the future of the country and denied every generation after their own all the benefits that they, themselves, derived from Nigeria.
An average Nigerian youth struggles for everything, struggle to gain admission, struggle to fund him or herself in school, struggle to get the subscribed education he/she paid for with the endless strike, struggle to even get mobilise and the “ultimate struggle” is struggle to get a job to make a living and start a family. Indeed a life of endless struggle! Why will depression not set in?
The Nigerian youths have also been “systematically” declared unfit to rule. Since independence, ‘elder statesman’ have been dictating who can and who should be in power, else, themselves. Some gave way for their protégés to take over, rotating office between senate, the various houses, governorship and every political seat available tenure in and out. Are there no other and better Nigerians who can make something more meaningful out of governance than these who have turned it into their family inheritance? The sad part of this narrative is the “children are the leaders of tomorrow” chant, this is the biggest lie of the century. They told us that WE ARE THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW, then they put the youths to sleep. The pills are still working, today’s youth are yet to wake up to tomorrow assignment while the oldies continue to rule and plunger the future just to leave debt for them. Nigerian debt hits N25.7trn this month, a rise of N3.3trn in one year without any meaningful development, and the youth who will become leaders tomorrow are not even talking!
As it stands today, Nigeria is the most horrible place to live as a young person if you have a global vision. So terrible that human life does not hold any form of respect anymore. Children are kidnapped for going to school and youths are harassed for expressing themselves. We live in a country where life has assumed the proportion of bare unclad existence. It is the most terrible country to raise a child in the 21st century if you look at what is happening in other forward-thinking countries.
All the sectors including the health sector is in chaos, education is in total disarray and strike is the order of the day, the few social amenities are fast deteriorating, unemployment shows no sign of abating, the Nigerian youth strives to attain on his or her own, sometimes with uneven support from struggling family members. Even after all the strivings, the state makes no recompense.
After devoting all they have to help their children get educated, many youths of nowadays still depend on their parents for survival, and this is not by choice or because they are lazy as the Nigerian president will choose to believe but because there are no jobs out there. “Many youth ready for work but as work no dey na how dey wan survive,” according to African China Mr President. This desperation to survive has led many youths down the path of social vices such as Yahoo yahoo and prostitution.
Those who are lucky to have jobs are complaining that the minimum wage is ridiculously insufficient to tackle the unsavory mix of recession, increasing debt load and a drastic fall in purchasing power. Those who have managed to become self employed are frustrated every day because of the amount needed to drive their business, many crumbles under the heavy weight of the business driving cost. Only a minuscule fraction of those who are called youths in today’s Nigeria have any idea of what decent livelihood is.
The present crop of Nigerian youth has it tedious because of these leaders today and many are driven down the route of depression because of the many challenges they face. The news these days is replete with suicides and many Nigerian youths who just took their lives is because they just could not bare to face the reality of things anymore. Depression, a term that used to exclusively be an “oyinbo” illness has gradually crawled into the vocabulary of Nigerians. Nigerians are no longer suffering and smiling, they are suffering and dying. The most annoying thing of it all is that the Nigerian youth seem to have resigned to fate and accept mediocrity from their leaders.
Nigerian youths are one of the most passionate in the world but there is a case of misplaced priority with this present generation of youths. While the youths in Sudan and Hong Kong are on the street protesting against the system for a better future. The youths: graduates, undergraduates, employed, unemployed or underemployed have have turned to social media as a form of escape from the happenings in the nation. The Nigerian youth choose to sit behind their phones and gadgets and engage in Twitter battle on mediocre. For over three months, housemates of Big Brother Nigeria, a reality TV show had been trending back on Twitter and even after the show, the trend continues as the youths have made it a calling to invest their resources and emotions in the housemates and other frivolities while the ruling class continue to suppress them.
Never a time have the Nigerian youth come out to speak with one voice against the ill meted against them. There is strength in the Nigerian youth number and there are many things happening that they can lend a voice to, from the minimum wage the government have refused to enact or to the refusal to reduce their exorbitant allowances. Or is it the almost zero allocation to the education sector; only N82 billion was allocated to education and N112 billion given to the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC out of the 2020 N10.33 Trillion budget. The Nigerian youths have chosen to keep mute despite that the quality of the education sector have continued to decline year in year out. There is the unlawful imprisonment of Sowore or is it the FIRS job scandal where the senators decided to share 100 slots in the parastatals for themselves while many deserving youths roam the street. There are many things Nigerian youths can lend their voice to but to choose to turn the other way and engage in foolishness.
The tragedy of Nigeria is not caused by natural disasters but by leadership disaster and the youth have contributed immensely with their inaction. They say the worst type of rape is the one done at a gun point. To rape an innocent girl is bad and severe enough but to stop the victim from crying because of the excruciating pain you are inflicting on her is both callous and unpardonable. This is what is happening today in Nigeria, the leaders rob our young people of their future but when they speak out, they are threatened with armed forces. The securities personnels including the DSS, police and soldiers are no longer for protection against external threats but vigilant watchdogs in the hands of political merchants to silence concerned youths who dare express their frustrations publicly. Fear have been effectively used to keep the Nigerian youth under submission. Also the divide and rule tactic by the colonial masters have also been effectively used to fractured our nation’s geography into polarised ethnosyncrasies and idiosyncrasies.
According to late Chinua Achebe, “people say that if you find water rising up to your ankle, that’s the time to do something about it, not when it’s around your neck,” the water that will sweep us all away in this country is almost at our neck and it takes the Nigerian youths to rescue us all. Building the nation of our dreams need a collective effort and the more the Nigerian youths keep mute, the more damage these selfish politicians will bring upon the country. There is strength in numbers and it is high time the youths set their differences aside and speak with one voice under one umbrella to rescue their future from the jaws of marauders. Enough is enough!
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