I was recently asked, what would I say to Nigerian Leaders if given an audience? Indeed in the climate of Nigeria today, this is not only a jamb question but also a Nobel Prize Question, Why? Well would I talk about security, would I talk about the power problem, would I talk about unemployment, terrorism, healthcare, education, poor infrastructure, poverty, injustice, inequality or the impending annihilation of the small middle class. Truly, the list of maladies that are affecting our dear country seem endless with no panacea in sight. Our very own Dr GEJ prescribed fresh air for the cancer affecting our country Nigeria but unfortunately it would seem that we need more than fresh air, perhaps chemotherapy or some revolutionary genetic manipulation that would make the country impervious to the cancer currently eating through its system. Maybe the nation needs to visit a televangelist for a dose of holy ghost fire to cure the country of what ails it. Of course, I might be characterizing our problems in a pessimistic light. There are good things about Nigeria, good enough that it might distract the bulk of the population to the truth beneath it all. We are all living in the Matrix my dear friends and countrymen, awaiting a Neo to break the cycle of destruction and impending doom that awaits us.
I will attempt to be prophetic, perhaps a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, asking the leaders of Nigeria to repent for the Kingdom is at hand. Did I say Kingdom of God? Nope. I said Kingdom. The type of Kingdom that is at hand depends on our actions as leaders and as a nation. We cannot continue to serve two masters, we cannot be children of regression and wish to be heirs to progress and development. Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears. Biko/Ejo/Don Allah make I borrow your ears sell am for black market for 20 million naira, cool cash. Just kidding. However, I believe that the greatest challenge facing our nation is the youth. Yes yes, you have heard this before. It is said that the word of truth shall be meditated upon day and night, so also shall different people propagate this message in different ways until someone finally listens or thy kingdom come.
Why are youth the biggest challenge that is faced by our country Nigeria? I will attack this problem from one angle that has really bothered me. Our country has a really high fertility rate and despite our mortality rate it is hard to argue that our population isn’t increasing stupendously (right word?). Our tertiary institutions keep graduating students, our streets are full of youth. There is but one problem; these kids, young men and women don’t have jobs. You haven’t seen hustling until you meet a Masters degree holder who is doing bricklaying to make ends meet and trust me those ends are not meeting. People take what they can get and sacrifice on their dreams, why? This is because jobs are hard to find. These are the lucky few that are able to get something. You have those who go for years, some even up to a decade without finding jobs and those who have been locked up by poverty so much that they didn’t even go to school in the first place. There are large groups of people who cannot read or write and have no discernable vocational skill in place to help them to be useful. Even if they get these vocational skills, they might not get an opportunity to make use of these skills because work no dey, no one will give them micro loans. If they get loans, the interest rates could commit cow genocide. That’s a lot of beef at 30% percent interest rate. To paraphrase the shortest verse in the bible: I wept. Truly truly I say unto you, advertise a job in Nigeria and see the multitude of people that will show up for the interview of job test. The situation is so bad that we have turned our graduates into a horde of professional job applicants, scheming and struggling for a way to get a job in their own country. Think about the enormity of this, in their fatherland. Literally, it is their father’s land. Nigeria is as much yours as it is mine. The youth are subjected to an employment process that is for the most part not transparent. No regulation whatsoever, the job applicants get treated like sub human beings all in the name of the job search. Many of the future bright minds of the country are getting frustrated with the issue and if care is not taken will leave. I know some idealists will sit in their air-conditioned office and tell you that brain drain is bad for the country. Easy for you to say, you don’t know that air condition is a luxury afforded to few.
If you don’t see why a teeming mass of unemployed and bored youths is a problem to our country pick up crime statistics, STD statistics, drug (igbo) statistics, heck almost any bad statistic in our country affects youths predominantly. Why? Na young man wey get strength to be armed robber, no be so? Na young man get energy to be kpanshing (doing the horizontal tongolo) left and right without fear of consequences for his actions. Na young woman wey go dey street dey sell herself for money. Ganja na friend of the jobless man. Do you honestly think if any of these people had a nice comfortable job, they will be engaged in such social vices?
Amazingly, that is the least of our worries; the sorry state of the youth in the nation has bred a cynical generation. You know how we used to lie to ourselves that we would be better than the previous generation or that we were the leaders of tomorrow? Well I have news for you, some of the people speaking English up and down and acting like idealists will be the first to loot your treasury dry when they become the leaders of tomorrow. It is a shame that the hustle to succeed in our country has created not only a generation of hustlers but a generation of hyenas willing to feed on the carcass of an already dying country, a generation of pigs willing to roll in the mud of corruption to get ahead in life. Bribing NYSC officials, bribing people to get jobs and eventually bribing the people to get their votes in the future. We have become mirrors of the generation before us. What I fear is that one day the cynicism of this generation will change to anger, an anger that could one day completely implode this great nation we call ours.
I have a dream, I guess for the corrupt it would be a nightmare. That one day, the great youths of our country decided to be selfless for once. They decided that not only to march and protest against the evils done to our nation but to take action. They decided to vote out inefficient governments, shun corruption, refuse to be treated like second class citizens in their country. The youth of our country decide to read, no I m not talking about just getting a degree. They decide to get educated, read about how other countries did it and apply what they can to their country. I dreamt that all forms of tyranny were squashed and systems of oppression were toppled. The youth began to think open mindedly and objectively about issues at hand without recourse to region, tribe, language or religion.
So what would I say to our leaders if given the opportunity? Keep being the corrupt and inefficient brood of vipers you are and one day the cynical generation you brought up will become an angry one and then there will be no place to hide for you. Change your actions now! Or you risk cursing our nation up to the fourth generation.
What would you say to our leaders if you were given the chance? Are we a cynical generation that could become an angry generation or do I exaggerate? What are your thoughts on the ramifications of gross unemployment for our nation’s future?