I’ve had to ask myself this question over and over again, why are we, the youth, really keeping quiet in Nigeria? What are we really afraid of? Why do we pretend that all is well, and never speak out about the deprivation we’ve faced all these years of military/civilian rule? Why do we never speak the truth about how despicable life has become for many of our friends, colleagues, folks and siblings?

Why do we pretend to believe that our government is sincere, when in reality we’re only interested in playing sycophancy to them for personal gain? Why do we pretend to believe that they are even competent to or capable of solving the problems of our generation? Why do we hide under aliases and nicknames in online media and make the actual comments that reveal our minds, but come to the open to praise and sycophant ourselves and the same people who have deprived us of electricity, jobs, good education, technology advancement, and a future for our coming generation?

Come on my dear youths, we have suffered enough. They ride in air conditioned and tinted cars where they don’t see what happens in the streets, they work in air-conditioned offices, and sleep in air conditioned homes with standby generators, oblivious of the predicaments of the commoners and the reality in our society. We, the people whom their policies are meant to better their lives grudge and fight ourselves in the streets and marketplaces because of the heat and frustration. They always promise better governance and credible leadership but each time, they disappoint and fail us because we trusted them. Is it not enough?

In 1999, they told us that we needed a stable government so they manipulated the elections. While they partied and made merry, we kept our hands on our cheeks looking and waiting. In 2003, they told us it was time for us to choose and while we made our choices by voting, they went to their sitting rooms to prepare the results and they were soon celebrating to our bewilderment. In 2007, they had further mastered their game, and as always, they would find a way to convince us to vote so that there will be bases for legitimacy of their masterminds. Now in 2011, again seeing that they have lost our confidence totally, they went and called Prof. Jega for us. Now let me ask, is Prof. Jega going to personally conduct the elections in each of the rural wards in our villages? Is Prof. Jega going to physically stop desperate politicians from hiring money hungry youths who either do not work, or earn just stipends from “pass time” jobs?

Come on, fellow youths, have we listened to speeches by our presidential aspirants? How many of them have youth employment, empowerment and development at the core of their agenda? Have we forgotten that youths make up at least 70% of the population of Nigeria? Or have we forgotten that we have at least 40 million unemployed youths in this country? Or do we not realize that we have capabilities to massively employ the youths in this country with policy implementations in our service, agricultural and oil sectors? How then do they have the youths of this country at the core of their agenda except we remind them in our numbers? Is it not our mates and friends in the Arab world who are fighting and sacrificing for the sake of liberating their nations even in the face of fierce and stiff resistance from their governments, while we sit here and debate how it cannot happen in our happen in our country, still giving more power to powerless civilians like us who sit at the helm of affairs and hide in the cover of agbada and traditional attires dictating our fates like masters who are commanding slaves. People who have powers because we are simply afraid to speak, cowards who will not hesitate to take the next available flight to safety when we realize our self inflicted bondage, fight our fears, become bold and speak with one voice.

Tell me how our leaders can solve our problems when they refuse to take responsibility in the first place. Is it not the same leaders who deprived us access to quality education who come out to tell us that most of us are unemployable therefore they cannot help with our joblessness? Is it not the same leaders who deprived us electricity who tell us that we’re not enterprising? Is it not the same set of politicians who have been ruling since independence that still control our government either directly or in proxy? How better even are we than the Arab world who at least have 1 person to blame in their respective governments for their woes, rather than be confused on who to blame because a group of people rotate themselves every 8 years. In the case of the Arab world, it would be easier to trace their looted funds, in our case, tracing our looted funds is like counting all the fish in the ocean, so why must we still keep our calm and hope on the meager opportunities we have or are expecting soon without thinking of our unborn children who may meet us in an economy which is bankrupt and sapped of all its oil? Who is to blame for foolishness and cowardliness if not us, who seem to be educated but not knowledgeable, strong but not skilled, awake but not alert, talented but not creative, intelligent but not brilliant, and above all, we seem to know too much theory that we cannot model into the real world.

Lets be honest with ourselves and reason like youths, there will never be a free or fair election in Nigeria when youths are readily available for hire as political thugs and election disorganizers because they are jobless and desperate for survival. There will never be a free election in Nigeria when our security operatives are used as agents of destruction, murder and extortion because of money.

It was not our choice to be here; neglected, deserted and forgotten, but it is our choice to remain here or not. That choice, I believe, is not to hope again for a free election but to work for one. We must march on the streets and show the government our number. We have to show the government that we should be their priority in this nation. We have to demand to know government’s plans for the youths and how they want to achieve the plans, starting now. We have to prove to the government who seems not to realize that at least 70% of the nation is us, and our welfare must be at the top of the priority list of government. We have to answer Dimeji Bankole who asked why Nigerians should demonstrate, and let him know that we are demonstrating because most of our youths are without jobs because of them.

Most of us have no access to good education, good roads, good healthcare, and even the basic necessities of life at a time when they are one of the best paid legislators in the world. We pay them so much yet they do so little. We pay them so much yet they steal our money and use it to oppress us.

I wish to use this medium to call on all Students Union governments, all unemployed, employed and concerned youths, and all youth organizations to be brave enough and stage demonstrations in all the states of the federation. Let us show the government that we are capable of causing a no fly zone in our airports, we are capable of restricting movements in our cities. Let us tell them that its time to stop playing politics with our future and the future of our unborn babies.

Before any election takes place in this country, we must see government’s commitment to generating employment, fighting corruption, restoring electricity, and rebuilding our society with credible technocrats, not the ones we hear about their misdeeds everyday on the news. Do not be fooled, it is the same people coming back to power regardless of political party. The real technocrats are within us and they cannot contest election because ticket is sold to the highest bidder who will do the bidding of power drunk political godfathers, moreover, rebuilding Nigeria is not the priority of these politicians, they are after power either to fight their enemies, make more money and remain relevant, own luxury investments, lavish wealth on women and concubines, or intimidate others with money and power.

Development of the country is the least of their priorities and only comes when the others have been realized, and even when you talk about development, there will never be development without their own self enrichment, instead there will be no development at all. Let’s face the truth and do the right thing if we truly love our country. Someday your kids will be without jobs and they will ask you, “What were you doing when all these vices were going on?” What would be your answer? God bless you all as we speak with one voice.

Gospel Obioma

[email protected]
Lagos, Nigeria.

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