We are Nigeria
WE are the generation of at least 20.3 million unemployed youths. The generation that has grown accustomed to holding on to the constant and pervasive threat of Boko Haram at the back of our minds. We are the Twitter warriors – the 140 characters or fewer intellectuals that fight our battles on social media. Yet, we are the foot soldiers, the 70 per cent or more swing votes that will sway the tide at general elections.
We are the 100 million destitute Nigerians that the World Bank talks about; the 1.8 million unemployed Nigerians that enter the job market each year. Still, we are the children that have died because that simple N700 penicillin shot that could have saved our lives was too much for our parents to afford. We are the gentlemen and women that have died because $20 billion went missing an amount that could have been more than enough to fix that lone pothole that sent our car somersaulting down the death traps that have become our federal roads – the same federal roads that our current ruling party continues to brag about.
We are the traders who are making less because the Naira has been greatly devalued against the Dollar (USD), the Pound (GBP), and every other currency that is worth the piece of paper on which it is printed. We are the businessmen and women who are spending more on diesel because power supply has become not only erratic, but also virtually non-existent in many parts of the country.
We are the millions of children that could have been fed with the $255 million that was used to purchase bulletproof cars by a former Minister who walked away unprosecuted. And yes, we are also the lives that have been lost despite the N3.099 trillion that has been spent on security in the last 59 months of this Administration. We are the one million internally displaced Nigerians that have had to sleep under the stars for the past few months – despite the fact that our leaders boast that N80 billion was raised to address our plight with the Victims Support Fund.
We are the over 200 abducted Chibok girls that have hoped and waited to be rescued by our country for almost 310 days now. We are the thousand other nameless women and children that have been abducted by the extremists over the past year. We are also the former homeowners who have been driven away from our lands in the Northeast, because over 20,000 square kilometres of our country has been allowed to fall into the hands of radical insurgents.
We are the 203 soldiers that have been discharged from the military and evicted from the barracks like negligent tenants because we demanded better kitting, sufficient ammunition, and more accountability from our commanding officers on the battlefield. More importantly, we are the 54 soldiers that have been sentenced to death for mutiny, because we would not go into battle with our fists that is without the necessary equipment needed to defend our fatherland.
We are the citizens that remain silent, despite the fact that we see all that is going on around us. We are the middle and high-income families that turn a blind eye to the ills around us, despite the fact that we know that the reason that we double-padlock our gates at night is because of the unequal economic disparities that exist between us – the ‘haves’, and those on the other side of our gates, the ‘have-nots.’
We are the ‘have-nots’ – the powerful ones, the ones that have the strength of our numbers; the ones that can light the spark that we need to kindle the fire of change that our country needs so desperately. We are the real voices of Nigeria, yet we choose to remain silent. We are the true agents of change, yet we choose to practice our activism behind closed doors and at beer parlours, instead of at the ballot box where it truly matters.
Hence, we are the failures of our past, but we have just entered the opportunity for a new future – one that is filled with endless possibilities.
We are either a failed tale of unused potential, or a comeback story of actualised possibilities in the making. We are Nigeria, and this is a new year of endless possibilities.
The ball is in our court. How will we respond?