by Jude Feranmi
“Anthony Enahoro moved the motion of independence at 23, General Obasanjo did this at this age. One other person did that in that age? What is wrong with the Nigerian youth today?”
I am sure you must have seen this line of argument one way or the other. Either from Femi Pedro or from Wole Soyinka or from Bolaji Abdulahi, the Publicity Secretary of APC who was once Minister of Youth and recently added his own Op-Ed too. Well, let’s really answer this question.
First of all, I am irked by the quality of persons from whom usually ask these questions and I say this with every atom of respect for their persons. They are usually relatively accomplished past their class. Femi Pedro for example makes a long list of his mates who came together to form a company that is now GTbank and how many others in his generation seized opportunities that older ones were trying to seize for themselves. He then uses this as a case to ask why the situation is different. Maybe this is responsible for my thought process on this issue, maybe not. But…
The promise of a better tomorrow is the hallmark of every successful generation. Since 1960, Not one Nigerian can stand up and say things were better now than they were when s/he was a kid. Professor Sonaiya, KOWA PARTY’s Presidential candidate in the 2015 elections have stated times without number how the continuous degradation of the educational system where she got her first degree and where she then lectured was one of the many factors that contributed to her candidacy.
The quality of education that Wole Soyinka got is way different from the one that Femi Pedro got or the one that Bolaji Abdulahi got. By the time you find out the kind of Education that I and my mates got, it’s an over-diluted version of what those who now ask what is wrong with us got in the first instance.
The standard of living is now at the lowest since it was 60 years ago. It is not as if we don’t know these things, it just seems too obvious to qualify as the answer to the question we are asking. One of the premises of the argument was that the youths of nowadays only have goals in the entertainment industry and are wizkid wannabes and linda ikeji wannabes. Excuse me sirs/mas ! What do you expect in an economy that is ladened with recession and the only growing sector is the entertainment industry?
What role models currently exist in the middle class in any other industry that can rival the lifestyles of Wizkid and Linda Ikeji who belong to my generation? Where is the societal system that highlights the dignity of labour and the rewards of contentment? Are the current youths of our society responsible for creating these systems too?
Someone once wrote that s/he’s scared of what my generation would look like when we finally take the roles of leadership considering the rate of degradation and the level of education we have at the moment and then proceeded to lay the blame on the table of today’s youth. Ineffable!
There’s Mark Okoye in Anambra State, there’s Seun Onigbinde in BudgIT, there’s Sujimoto in Lekki, There’s in fact an event that is dedicated to rewarding young people who are defying the odds (which I must say were put in place by the older generation either by consent or by apathy) to make things happen every year with very few cases of awardees or even nominees being repeated year after year, organised also by young people who do not belong to the older generation. Someone needs to look harder.
It is hypocrisy of the highest order for older Nigerians to ask what is wrong with the “youths of nowadays” without looking in the mirror and seeing the answer.
There’s a Yoruba adage that says, “Agba o ki n wa loja, ki ori omo tuntun wo” translated to mean that an older person cannot be in the market and the head of a new baby (on the back of its mother) be wrongly tilted.
In today’s society, it is crystal clear that the quality of young Nigerians have decreased over time. To cast the blame on the victims is not even just hypocrisy, it is wickedness. If the head of a young baby is wrongly tilted in the market, nobody blames the baby.
In today’s Nigeria, the very same demography who are victims of a skewed and unjust society are getting the blames for what tomorrow will likely look like. It is a slander of the highest order and it MUST stop!
To the young folks of my generation who insist that things must be better, I have this to say –
We are in the minority! And we must realise this before anything else. The society we have found ourselves have ensured that we do not have the luxury of hope from many quarters and majority of our own people do not even believe that things will be better. Politicians have set a very strong cycle of induction rolling. This means we have more work to do and we cannot afford to fail.
We cannot afford to fail not because we do not want others to ask us like we now ask those before us if this was the best they could do as a generation. We cannot afford to fail because after us comes a generation that will number up to half a billion by 2050, be armed with the force of technology and hammered by the vices of our society.
We must deliver a better tomorrow than today just so we can survive and ultimately hold our heads high. This means we cannot allow ego or pettiness distract us. This means we cannot be divided along so many lines or scattered around. This means that we have to come together and keep challenging the status quo until a new and better society is birthed.
Only until we deliver this Nigeria can we hope that those of us who have been victimised by this current society and have turned into the worst version of themselves can look up to us and turn a new leaf.
We have work to do! Let’s get to it.
- Jude ‘Feranmi is the National Youth Leader of KOWA PARTY and can be reached on Twitter via @JudeFeranmi or via email firstname.lastname@example.org