Ask an average Nigerian youth this question and the next thing you would hear is, “…the system is very corrupt. The elites don’t consider the youth” Yes! Even the little child on the mother’s breast knew about it before birth. It is that bad. However, I believe it is about time we channel our youthful energy into proffering solutions to our challenges rather than looking for who and what to blame. It would be of great help, if we complain, but with workable solutions.
What sparked the recent bloodless political revolution in the country were not just mere complaints but workable solutions offered by the bright and sound Nigerian youths. Despite this effort, reality has shown that the elites have taken advantage of them to hold onto power. My worry is why have the youths been poorly compensated? Experience has shown that majority of the youths offered their ideas with intent to gain monetary or social favour instead of using it a bargaining chip that would eventually lunch them into the next class of our nation’s leaders. As a result, those who genuinely offered it for the true change have been left stranded.
I cannot conclude that the only reason why Nigerian youths have not been included in the leadership positions of this current administration is political apathy. In as much as we are interested in politics, we do not believe in ourselves that we are capable of leading this great nation. We chicken out easily because either we do not have much to offer or too much have been offered to us to make us look away. It proves that we only engage in the political process with the aim of getting a peanut for ourselves with no intention of developing it. This is a threat to both the process and the few recycling elites – and they hold onto power with that theory of mental age versus chronological age. It’s obvious that the political process cannot go on if we always chicken out. Moreover, Nigeria will not develop if we are all selfish. At least you can trace a patriotic undertone in our elites’ show of selfishness – they keep the process going for it gains.
In school, our teacher made us recite what almost became the third stanza of Nigeria’s National Anthem during the morning assemblies perhaps to make us know and believe that we are the leaders of tomorrow. Even so, how can we become the leader when we do not exhibit leadership qualities after all the schooling and trainings? You would be surprised when you attempt to nose round on the youths (supposedly leaders of tomorrow) to hear their opinion on critical national issues – aside perceiving strong ethnic or partisan bias from their thoughts, most of them ignorantly say and do things that falls shorts of a sane mind.
The poser has always been “What would the Nigerian youths do differently if given the opportunity to lead?” So many if you ask me. Nevertheless, sometimes we do worst things than anyone can imagine. Instances like showering encomiums or presenting dignified awards to branded corrupt and criminal citizens as if it would pacify the elites, and to allow us passage into our rightful position of leadership someday is worrisome. Be it the reasons identified earlier or for any other reason, it proves that we are simply stupid. Moreover, it describes the kind of youths that are agitating to be included in the nation’s leadership positions.
I conclude with this African proverb, “The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open.” As the elites continue to wield power in a blood-sucking manner, we need a change of attitude and thread with them in a professional manner and not for the manna that would fall. Succinctly put, the elite might have more power than we might, but if we wield ours more effectively, we might exercise more influence in certain settings. Only when we do this that our agitation for inclusion will be meaningful and supported by the elite.
Ugbabe Adagboyi Damian is a student of Atlas Leadership Academy. He is also an alumni of Imani Centre for Policy and Education. You can connect with him via twitter @UgbabeD
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