Leadership

When The Young become The Restless

A popular TV Soap that has been on the screen for many years is titled: “The young and The Restless”. I cannot give you its plot because I’m usually lost when it comes to TV Soaps. But I do know another drama currently being played out in Nigeria as we speak.

A few weeks ago a certain bank in South-West Nigeria was robbed; eyewitness accounts have it that the robbers were young people, basically teenagers and a bit older.

In September 2011, a certain bank in Osun State was robbed, the miscreants who carried out the dastardly act that left one person dead and the entire community where the bank is located in a state of shock, were said to be young people estimated to be in their early twenties.

Most reports of the recent bombings in Northern-Nigeria have it that the said suicide bombers are usually young people and sometimes teenagers. Early this week a certain news website reported an averted bomb attack at the FCTA Complex in Abuja, it was said that the female suicide bomber who attempted the attack when interrogated was found to be twenty-one years old.

We all remember receiving reports of a group of young people who were bribed to chant support for the fuel subsidy removal for as low as N1,000 in Abuja during the nationwide strike in January.

I’m sure we all remember the post-election violence last May in Northern Nigeria said to be carried out by youths aged fifteen to nineteen.

It does appear that The Young are becoming The Restless in Nigeria these days as from north to south, reports after reports point accusing fingers at the young people as perpetrators of evil. The above is debatable as many times, the real people behind the trouble remain the shadows and the naïve young people are the foot soldiers for the evil schemes.

In my opinion, a greater truth is that for every one naïve young person who sells his or her soul to evil, there are three people who are on their way to greatness via a legitimate means. I have sat with this people, interacted with such people and been where these people are, and the young people of Nigeria overall are very enterprising as a collective set.

The January 15th edition of the popular Nigerian syndicated TV talk-show Moments with Mo, as relayed on Africa Magic featured some young Nigerian entrepreneurs like Bukunyi Olateru-Olagbegi ACE Magazine publisher who started the magazine along with his friends in his room at the Redeemers University, Dr Ola Orekunrin a twenty-four year old medical doctor who runs Flying Doctors West-Africa’s first Air Ambulance service company, the CEO of Jobberman the revolutionary online job-recruiting tool, Ayodeji Adewunmi and a host of other entrepreneurs.

Surely there are many others like these ones who haven’t made it to the limelight yet but are making a difference in obscurity around Nigeria in all six geo-political zones.

But the truth is that victory in the battle between good and evil is in influence not numbers. We all know that to poison a pack of juice, you do not need a pack of rat poison as only a little is required, the same goes for seasoning a pot of soup with salt.

The underlying issue is that we the Nigerian youth are raw materials of some sort, and we can be made into poison or salt depending on what influence we are exposed to.

I have often wondered what the future of Nigeria would be like, and I sometimes shiver in fear thinking about it looking at the seeds we are planting now especially in the children and young people the future citizens and leaders of Nigeria. Education is just not a priority in this nation as I see it. We have witnessed ASSU and the Federal Government play chess over the heads of innocent students with a strike that lasted a little over 6 weeks.

A visit to many schools, private and public in this country would reveal a very dull place where learning is forced and very little imagination is engaged. Nothing wakes up the mind, and very little inspires students to attain greatness. It’s not a question of curriculum or infrastructure alone, it is a total package from Curriculum to infrastructure to teaching methods, learning aids. Our schools need to go beyond the norm. Our schools from Nusery, to Primary to tertiary institutions should be the finest places in terms of infrastructure, organization and discipline all around Nigeria because there the future hinges between good or bad.

Last year, I had different opportunities to interact with students in Junior and Senior Secondary School and two Universities, and my discovery was that in Nigeria we have an enormous and precious resource in our youth. The missing link in the puzzle can be found in our national anthem, beginning at the fourth line of the second stanza: Help our youth the truth to know, in love and honesty to grow, and living just and true, great lofty heights attain, to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.

An entire section of the anthem is dedicated to the message of positive mentorship and leadership which has not been given priority as it ought by the Nigerian Society.

By the way, The Nigeria – Next Generation Final Report as compiled by The Next Generation Task Force chaired by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (the then managing director of the world bank) convened by the British Council in 2010, states as its first key finding:

Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in its history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world that has young workers in plentiful supply. Youth, not oil, will be the country’s most valuable resource in the twenty-first century.” 

2030 is only eighteen years from now. Eighteen years is: two years plus the defunct 6-3-3-4 system of education. The two years can be ASSU strike, internship or post-UME wahala. It just has to be.

We cannot dissolve ourselves as Nigerian youth from any form of responsibility in this matter. We are the future and we need to decide for ourselves what Nigeria would look like in our time. If the greatness of Nigeria is what we desire, then we must wake up now, every one of us!

If we wait for all infrastructures to be in place, and for all conditions to be perfect before we move towards greatness, nothing would happen! We might not be able to control the way things are in our nation, but we can control our minds and apply ourselves to make a difference for good and start building a great nation.

To change the plot of the unfolding drama, two ingredients must be introduced: faith and patience. We just must believe in the Nigerian state and the possibilities for rebirthing a nation for greatness, then we must be patient for nation-building is a very long……process.

It’s only a matter of time and the drama would end. The credits would roll through the screen of history and our names would all be written for good or for bad.

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