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Nigeria’s youth deserve a level playing field


Nigerian Youths

Sometimes circumstances beyond our control or government’s illogical decisions tend to place a people in an obscure and dangerous situation that may cause loss of lives and property. In his political and economic analysis of the human capital the nation lost during the Nigerian civil war, Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka argued that his generation was a wasted one. Of course, there is no doubt that, that generation was confronted by a violent image of a sudden irreversible rapid fall whose inevitable end is a fatal collision with life and death. This therefore, made life for that generation to be nasty, brutish and short. Indeed, it was a very painful loss for every soul of that generation that died in the course of that struggle. Today, over four decades after the civil war, generations after generations seem to continue on the same wasteful path due to either government’s inability to handle the issues concerning up-coming generations or its sheer insensitivity to the plight of younger generations.

Although, the latter’s horrific experience cannot be compared to what is happening nowadays as younger generation’s future seems constantly bleak and wasteful. Many young lives have been lost in their struggle and determinations to survive under the harsh economic situation in the country. A lot of young people chose to travel through the desert and cross the Mediterranean Sea in their quest to search for greener pasture abroad. In the course of such sojourns, many have died while some have been sold as slaves or sex workers’ among other dehumanizing sufferings they encountered.

It is indeed hard to tell why millions of graduates often get a cold welcome in the labour market, and therefore, remain unemployed many years after leaving the ivory towers. The decline of the conventional job has been much heralded in the recent past. Under such circumstance, asking government to create jobs is like trying to pass the head of a camel through the eye of a needle. Therefore, it has become a daily government sermon as its officials preach on every occasion and forum that the younger generations especially graduates should create jobs instead of looking for white-collar jobs. However, it behoves on government to play its role accordingly and govern by example, by providing an enabling environment for entrepreneurship. For instance, building a functional vocational training centre, giving soft loans, provide stable electricity and good road network among others.

With regards to the above, opinion remains divided over whether this APC’s government change is a cause for concern or a change that will liberate Nigerians from the rot of corruption occasioned by bad government. In the beginning, the change in mood among Nigerians was remarkable. Muhammadu Buhari had an air of invincibility, and seemed more popular than ever. Hence, when Nigerians voted Buhari a little over three years ago, they had no chance to say what sort of government he would deliver. But, one thing is certain, the people had confidence in him to deliver good governance. Of late, if you look more closely, however, you will see that the decay in his government seems accompanied by a steady demoralization which is why President Buhari recently asked Nigerians to stop glorifying thieves. But, he should be reminded that Nigerians voted for him to catch those thieves and put them in prison. If I may ask: What is the reason behind the foot dragging?

As we ruminate over the past we can ask: how did we get here? Or where did we get it wrong? Also, how did a country popularly known and referred to as the ‘Giant of Africa’ and economic power of the continent become a land of galloping income inequality, ethnic polarization, dysfunctional governments known and remembered only by failed promises? Therefore, this is a wake-up call to demand that my generation and indeed future generations deserve nothing but a level playing field in politics and all other aspects of human endeavour. Giving the youth a place in politics goes beyond signing the ‘Not too young to run Bill’ because the need to uplift the Nigerian youth has been circling or loudly advocated by successive governments but it has almost no link to reality. It should be noted that Nigeria’s greatest economic power is not its oil wealth, though it is unparalleled, it is not even in its market despite being Africa’s biggest and envy of the world as they scramble to do business. But, alongside these assets stand the Nigerian youth who should champion the political and economic developments of the nation.

It is however annoying that, even as one tries to find a way out of the quagmire, one discover a recurring irony. The core economic power (crude oil) that, many see and refer Nigeria as an oil rich country seems to bring more misery than joy to Nigerians. Over the years, the crude oil wealth has become a casino for government officials and the privileged few that have access to the corridors of power to enrich themselves, leaving the rest of the population in dreary of wants. In no small measure, this distinct Nigerian character of self enrichment has become the often unintended instrument which split the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected, the haves and the haves-not. The poor masses happen to be the deprived majority who suffer an unbearable hardship and are left behind, only remembered during elections.

In order to apprehend the rate at which things have degenerated, just scratch your head and the memory flickers into life. Nigeria was once a country whose only problem was how to spend its oil wealth money. Today, Nigeria’s political space has become a killing field of political careers. If you are not a member of the old generation or do not have a strong connection to a political godfather, there is every tendency that one may find it very slim to win any elective political office in the country.

Notwithstanding the fact that my generation has been riding on a bumpy rough road, they chose to take solace among themselves and talk about their challenges on a round table or the internet instead of belligerent exchanges. For that, the Nigerian political elite, government and indeed Nigeria should be grateful. Another good thing is that glimmer of hope, you can never completely dismiss the idea that my generation does mean to change the future of this country for better. The biggest dream for the future is that Nigeria’s youths should believe in the country and stop wasting their energy, time, money and life searching for greener pasture abroad. This is because the thunder is not yet rain. However, the thunder is forecasting the coming of the storm and when you hear the thunder’s blast, it gives you time to prepare. It is important to insist on this analytical truth so as not to give the impression that the Nigerian youths are lazy as it is being claimed. This is a huge deal, as you know, the ball is on our feet.

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