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What a timid generation!

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YOuth SpeakMAJORITY of the names in Nigeria political terrain were names I knew way back in my high school days when I studied Government and History. My thought then was that any name that is mentioned in history is among the fallen heroes. Later, precisely 1998, my father made it compulsory that we listen to NTA network news and he bought newspapers for us to read in order to be conversant with happenings and trends in the country. Between 1999 and year 2000, I got to understand that some of these names were still part of the decision making body of this country both directly and indirectly.

Having being reading about these people for over a decade and still seeing them looking smart and healthy as they pilot the affairs of the country, I realised that they ventured into the political scene and governance when they were much younger. Since I realised this, it has given me cause to worry, considering the fact that they rose to power between their late 20s and early 30s. But the opposite is the case today. We are not able to rise up and take the mantle of leadership because it has been said that we are leaders of tomorrow; and come to think of it that tomorrow is already now.

The tension grew in my heart daily until Thursday, March 14, last year when I went to dig into history and pull out some names and the age they started their political careers. The following nationalists were in their prime when they took the giant step to fight for Nigeria’s independence: Awolowo (37), Akintola (36), Ahmadu Bello (36), Tafawa Balewa (34), Okotie-Eboh (27), Anthony Enahoro (27) and they led the struggle for independence after the death of Macaulay. As of that period, only Nnamdi Azikiwe was 42.

More characters who became prominent in Nigeria politics in their prime are Kaduna Nzeogwu (29), Murtala Mohammed (28), Theophilus Danjuma (28), Ibrahim Babangida (25), Nanven Garba (23), Sani Abacha (23), Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (23), Gowon (32), Ojukwu (33), Obasanjo (29) and Buhari (24).

Note that most of the military administrators who governed the states under the successive military governments have also been governors and some are still governors in the present 16-year-old democratic dispensation. The brief democratic dispensation which interjected the military interregnums also saw the House of Representatives in particular populated by a majority of members who are under 30 years as well as some senators. At that time, job opportunity was everywhere for people under the age of 30. Examples are MT Mbu who became Foreign Affairs minister at 23 and Pat Utomi who became a presidential adviser at 27 and so on and so forth.

The questions that bother me now are: Why is it that those in this age bracket today are sleeping and waking up in the comfort of their parents? Why are they still collecting pocket money from their parents? Why are they still writing UTME? Why are they sagging their trousers in the name of fashion? Why the endless search for jobs? Why are they not given the chance to head the youth wings of political parties? Why is this age bracket so docile? Why are they still incapable of fending for themselves? Why can’t they aspire to attain political powers? Why is it that this age bracket is today incapacitated, unwilling, unable and incapable of asking questions?”

After reading through, I pursed and asked myself: Where has that spirit of bravery gone to in our youths? I couldn’t help it but nod my head in pity for this age bracket and ask more questions like where did we get it wrong? Why can’t we dare like our fathers when they were our age? We are too carried away with the fear of the unknown, which has caused us to remain where we are. The popular sage; we are the leaders of tomorrow has become a normal lyrics and no one bothers to dare to step into the fore as a leader.

It is very sad to note that instead of daring, this age bracket has been bewildered with too much religious beliefs which are hardly reflected in their actions. The hours of thinking to make positive change, a couple of them are seated under the ministration of another fellow who cajoles them with sweet words of attaining greatness effortlessly. Instead of daring, we now hide under the cloak of very positive statements like “God will do it for me, God’s time is the best, I am the head and not the tail, I am not cut out to suffer, sorrow is not my portion, etc.” These are the unpalatable words they spit every moment.

I do not dispute the fact that God has the ability to make our wishes come to pass but one singular fact I know and I remember always is that part of the Holy Bible in Deuteronomy 30:9 which says: “The Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands …” Our religious beliefs and pretentious practices of the religions have truly affected our thinking, limiting us to think within the box and continually repeat the same strategy which has not enabled us to take a single step forward.

The principle of pragmatism has been thrown into the air that we now dwell more on theory. We read works of great men on the pages of newspapers, magazines and motivational books; listen to and watch motivational CDs yet this age bracket is yet to be motivated to dare. We are yet to manifest the inspiration we get from the various materials we have read and listened to.

While not undermining the efforts of these books and their likes because they impact transferable skills such as computer and ICT; leadership and project management; team-work, communication, negotiation and mediation; and administrable skills, which are key to building daring mind; the bottom-line is that every young Nigerian has to wake up from slumber and take hold of the future which is now. Time is running out, children are growing and getting wiser, the youth must realise that there is no more time for frivolities.

As much as mentorship is key to breeding bold minds, I have observed that there is a shortfall of mentors but we can’t fold our arms and watch helplessly like sheep without shepherds. We have got to motivate ourselves to make this country work. Many young adults are in dire need of mentors and role models who would remind them that hard work pays ultimately and daring by taking the bull by the horns is a strategy to key development. This is the time to act; the destiny of our unborn children is right in our hands. The time to lead is now; the time to act is now. We are aging by the seconds and we cannot continue to hear we are the leaders of tomorrow when actually the ‘tomorrow’ has long been at hand.

• Adejumoh is a Public Relations practitioner in Lekki, Lagos. Email: babekeny@gmail.com Tel: 08140363593.


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6 Comments
  • Lawrence Ettarh

    Because the youths have join the corrupt system and sold their soul for the interst of money. When you stand for the right things, your focus is not on the benefits but the good of all. Today the youths have join the selfish leaders of Nigeria of today. There will be no change in Nigeria as long as the same old folks drive the ship of Nigeria with no new ideas In their head, except to carry young girls the age of their daughters. The youths should stand up and move Nigeria forward. It is time.

  • Abah Simon

    The predicament of Nigerian youth

    By Simon Abah, Youth speak, The
    Guardian, Wednesday, March 18, 2015.

    IT has been said again and again
    that the older generation have refused to give youths a chance to take a shot
    at governance, but while this may be true, how ready are today’s youths to
    seize the moment to be of service to the nation like our ancestors did?

    An average Nigerian youth nowadays
    say he believes in the Creator “so much” and cannot detach his activities, even
    political awareness, from his religious beliefs. You begin to wonder if a
    country like China fights corruption by calling on the Most High. That same
    youth does not have the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria at
    heart and is quick to interpret the doctrines of his religious books above his
    country.

    Ironically you expect that he would,
    as a godly person, denounce politicians when they take part in malfeasance of
    the country’s wealth but he doesn’t.

    “I am not biased” he says, “and not
    a card-carrying member of any political party,” but his analysis as a
    self-professed non-partisan reviewer reflects opinions promoting the candidacy
    of one contender to the detriment of the other without a reference to the
    strength of the other as well, and hatred for people not like him comes to him
    with ease, yet he isn’t partisan.

    Times like this you begin to wonder
    how Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr, Mother Theresa and many others
    were able to fight shy of abhorring people from the other side and winning for
    themselves friendships amongst various bodies of man.

    Over 40 and unmarried (though
    marriage is not a measure of success), he sees himself as a youth and blames
    his mother for his single status. Life for him comprises of passing the buck
    and never accepting responsibility for obligations even if these involve
    looking after blood relatives, when he is well able to do so.

    He loves the easy side of life and
    does not miss out on the chance to go to watering holes at noon and at sundown.
    If he is privileged to buy a car, he must exhibit it on social media, which to
    the Nigerian youth spells success.

    He finds it difficult to read a book
    and know world history. For these reasons, he is easy to fool by the elite who
    use him as a thug during elections and further ask him to root for secession if
    they do not win same elections. Why these elites do not use their own children
    as thuggish front-runners, the youth does not bother to ask.

    At graduate school, he is the first
    to say, “I earwigged that the other class members contributed monies for
    lecturers and I was wondering if we could do the same, so they would be nice to
    us.” This solicitation was not encouraged by the lecturers even though most
    request it obliquely and others with vigour.

    If you resist this appeal because of
    the nature of your nurture in good undergraduate school, the youth would be the
    first to report to the teachers, that, “my colleagues are not cooperating,”
    thereby hanging them out in the open to dry before these instructors.

    Social interaction for this youth on
    campus is all about cossetting ladies and walking with arms encircling them, in
    a romantic manner publicly. He cares for nothing and sees the campus as a place
    where attire is sloppy, even for formal occasions. He would buy his wedding
    clothes abroad and showboat this further by stating the origins of his attire
    on the wedding brochure.

    Aspiration to higher learning is all
    about certification for this youth and if he is fortunate enough to travel
    overseas, he quickly forgets about the love of country and never uses knowledge
    acquired out there for the growth of his fellow countrymen. He wonders why
    those who like him are beyond his country’s borders should be concerned about
    national statehood.

    Put the youth on a committee to plan
    a wedding, he misses out on meetings without notice, and stops attending when
    you suggest that team members should contribute monies to buy gifts for the
    celebrant, only to appear on the wedding day, in a nice fitted suit and ask,
    “How are things going?” He had forgotten that he was part of the event
    planners; all he cares about is enjoying the wedding celebrations.

    Today’s youths do not know where
    they stand on national issues, stances are inconsistent because they
    follow the band-wagon effect and have to come together at newspaper stands to
    listen to uproars and tirades. They rely on electronic, print and social media
    without which they cannot form opinions on vital issues. In this way, they only
    recycle the opinions of others.

    Give him the chance to make
    commentaries on public forums powered by Disqus and today’s youth would use his
    time to insult people or advertise products like cars for sale.

    At work places, this youth
    brandishes a past reputation that should remain hidden, “do you know the
    fraternity I belonged to in the university?” he asks. He finds the model of
    corporate governance impossible, puts off the pursuit of a multicultural
    environment and sees nothing wrong with turning an office into a ‘cultural
    club’ especially if the owners of the establishment are from his geographical
    part of the country. This situation further makes him reason, incorrectly, that
    by virtue of language only, he is a major stakeholder in the company, and it is
    easy to understand why companies do not outlive their owners.

    It was Professor Dele Owolawi who
    said and I believe it to be so: “where excessive emotion takes root, reason
    takes flight.” Our youth is so overwhelmed by emotion when examining issues
    that reason takes flight. “I know he has failed us woefully, but let us support
    him at any rate, he is our brother,” he says.

    “Why do you submit efforts for
    publication, do Nigerians read?” he demands. At another time, “your works have
    been published many times, but these haven’t paid your bills,” he dares. While
    it is good to earn money it might have been better for him to ask you, why you
    write but he appreciates the “now” and wouldn’t ask.

    Worse yet,”Are you sure he doesn’t
    bribe editors to be published?” he probes behind your back. He doesn’t know
    that editors need not know you – but the quality of your work and, if you
    become complacent and send a slapdash effort that falls below standard because you
    have had work published before, they would never publish.

    He does not dare to school outside
    of his place of birth, but he is very gifted at evaluating and stereotyping
    people whose lands of birth he has never been to and does not appreciate the
    many people who are adventurous enough to make inroads into his region.

    How he loves being called the “first
    born,” and lords it on his mother and siblings and deprives them from enjoying
    a share in an inheritance. His love for the disrespect of elders is so degenerate
    that he looks them in the eye and says “hello.” With money in his hands he
    chases after titles in religious homes and traditional institutions and wants
    to hold court in strongholds where there are elders.

    The youth enjoys gory details and it
    is no burden to watch and film the reprehensible scorching of four
    undergraduate students in 2012 in Port Harcourt instead of helping to free them
    from the grasps of the devil or to cheer a mentally disturbed man in the same
    town who forcefully seized and assaulted a lady imprudent enough to wear
    see-through clothes.

    You wonder that if a mentally
    disturbed man can decode impropriety in dress, why couldn’t the youth?

    After only a few accomplishments in
    his profession (less than a decade sometimes and without affecting humanity
    positively) without being a card- carrying member of any party prior to that
    time, the youth says he is ready to seek elective office.

    I am left to wonder what luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and
    Aristotle Onassis would have accomplished had they been Nigerians.

    The youths accept the inducements
    from politicians but fail to question the origins of these “empowerment
    monies.”

    According to Owolawi, “the sum
    cannot be well without the integral part being well, just as the apex of a pyramid
    cannot stand without a solid base. Today’s youth have been unenthusiastic to
    truth for monetary, religious, regional reasons, a danger for; truth is the
    foundation of all greatness which must be imbibed by all and sundry, the
    investment of collective energy on substantial issues such as how to genuinely
    better the lot of the people.”

    Let the youth of today collectively
    fight shy of self-indulgence, avarice, one-sidedness and flag-waving. Let them
    hope and think about the change which is “needed on the Nigerian horizon.”

    Abah lives in Port Harcourt, Rivers
    State.

    • Rev

      Interesting…maybe the so called Youth watch too many Nigerian movies!

      • amador kester

        Yyyes , i keep saying it at the pain of villification that if these youths keep watching some of these nollywood nonsense, reality shows,premier soccer diversions coupled with lack of appropriate adult role models in politics,education,business and their inexplicable aversion to reading wide then they may not produce their bill gates,zuckenburgs,henry ford,obama,etc
        Take china for instance her leaders are mostly engineers and scientists and so they motivate the youths into producing their software and ict billionaires etc.There is need for dedicated NGOs to groom youths entrepreneurially and also get them acquainted with motivational reading

        .

        .

  • Mukhtari

    The older generation failed to plan for succession believing they would last forever. blaming the youths is like blaming a young man for not getting married when his aged father-the village chief priest keeps impregnating all the fertile girls at the village rite of initiation year after year.

  • The youths are having a get-rich-quick mentality, that is what is holding them back, they don’t have perspective or vision, they are dependent because it is too difficult for them to make it on their own. When they finish school they wait for their highly-connected uncle to get work for them. They don’t think but know the latest music dance and videos, they love celebrities and worship football idols but ironically would not one to be one. Some youths are teleguided by their parents, what works for your mummy might not work for you. I want the youths of this generation to wake up and face reality. Nothing good would come easy