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The Nigerian ‘tribe’ without honour

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
27 January 2021   |   3:06 am
You would have to fight back tears at hearing the tale of the Nigerian youth. However, that would not happen if you are part of the political class who do not believe

[FILES] Youths

You would have to fight back tears at hearing the tale of the Nigerian youth. However, that would not happen if you are part of the political class who do not believe that the Nigerian youth lacks anything.

Over the years, economic analysts have argued that no country can make meaningful progress without its youth, not only because of their strength or population but for their ability to think outside the box with new innovation.

In this age of digital technology, the youth are exceptionally magical and if given the opportunity will use their wealth of knowledge to rapidly grow the economy. Despite the above, a cloud of uncertainty constantly overshadows the minds of Nigeria’s youth about their future as governments past and present choose to always neglect them. Each passing day in the minds of youngsters in Nigeria is characterised by a question: where do we go from here?

It is no longer news that the just inaugurated President Joe Biden administration in the United States of America has dedicated some high and sensitive positions to three Nigerian youth over there in his cabinet. Therefore, it is appropriate to argue that the popular saying that a prophet is not without honour except in his home should no longer be applicable to Nigeria’s youth back here in the country.

Of course, given the fact that many of the leaders in power today and particularly our founding fathers took on the mantle of leadership while in their youthful age. Therefore, why should today’s youth be denied the opportunity to think that one day the baton of transformational leadership would be passed on to them? Of course, the answer is not farfetched. Not so long ago, President Muhammadu Buhari chooses to rub in the mud rather than positively project the nation’s youth image in faraway Britain where he openly wrote the youth off by saying they are lazy, uneducated, and always demanding ‘free lunch’ whereas there is no free lunch even in Freetown. Hear him: “Nigeria’s youth do nothing and want everything for free.

A lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil-producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, education free”. However, to pacify the youth from the presidential gaffe, the political elite came up with a not too young to run a bill that was later signed into law. But, giving the youth a place in politics goes beyond such showmanship of signing a Bill whereas the political will that ought to give the Bill a backbone remains a far cry.

In fact, the previous elections were a classical example that Nigeria’s youth has no place in political leadership. First, the price tag to obtain some of the political parties’ candidacy form is so exorbitant that only ‘money bags’ or ‘godfathers’ can afford it for bootlickers. Indeed, the cash jamboree at party primaries and the main election itself is no child’s play and cannot be said to be a level playing field for the struggling ‘not too young to run’ youth.

It is disheartening to note that Nigeria’s youth case is a tragic irony and more complicated than one can imagine. This calls for a sober reflection on the fate of the youngsters, who in their prime are not only neglected but tagged as lazy by the father figure of the nation. In light of the seeming helplessness and somewhat confused mien of Nigeria’s youth over their present decadence, Nigerians are curious to know what will become of the generation that society readily attributes to as the future leaders of the nation. Given the fact that an idle mind they say is the devil’s workshop. There is no doubt that the ruling government is tapping into youth anger from its series of failed promises.

In truth government’s dealings with the youth have been gravely miserable. Across the country, youngsters continue to gnash their teeth and weep in the land flowing with ‘milk and honey’. There is plenty of evidence that Nigeria’s youth are hungry for change. What were the EndSARS protests if not a cry for change by a youth who are mentally demoralised by the system. The nation is at the risk of witnessing another protest if concrete steps are not taken to address the rot that runs in the country today? Somehow, governments rarely change their poor performance habit. Hence, events concerning the youth follow what has become an all too familiar pattern. The youth constantly feels that they have been abandoned in virtually every aspect that could transform their lives. For many youths, it all feels precarious and seems as if life on the edge. However, under the guise to create job opportunities for the youth, the government offers employment without a guarantee of durability. A case in point is the on-going jamboree in the 774 jobs opportunity in local governments across the country.

In a society that its youth are so neglected, why should Nigerians believe in a change as defined by the ruling government when it does not manifest in the lives of the citizenry. How can Nigeria’s youth be saved from the perennial neglect? It is important to re-emphasise that as a rule, the economic health of any country depends on the willingness and desire of the government to recognise youth’s talents and utilises it for national development, prosperity, and a unified nation in which peace and justice reign. This should be the aspirations of all who crave the Nigerian dream envisioned by our founding fathers. It is befitting to restate that the nation’s youth need not undergo the suffering and deprivation they are experiencing in the hands of the self-seeking, insensitive political elite, who parade themselves as leaders. To this end, besides the EndSARS protests, the youth should continue to speak out against leadership poverty and corrupt practices. More importantly, they should speak with one voice because it would enable them to garner the strength to breakthrough politically and journey the nation to a better future.