What a timid generation!
MAJORITY 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 08140363593.