Glad to see Mr. Sonala Olumhense back from his brief hiatus. And congrats on his new syndicated column. His article “The Youth Of Nigeria” published yesterday in SaharaReporters made an interesting reading.
As always, his column breaths the needed oxygen into the problem of one of the most endangered species of Nigerian society – Nigerian youth.
Thanks for throwing light on long abandoned, long marginalized, long abused, and long disinherited Nigerian youth. The Nigeria that you and I grew up is now a different country.
Nigeria of today is a country that devours its youth. It is a country that terrorizes its youth. It is country that is hostile and antagonistic to its youth. It is a country that offers no hope, no life, no dream, and no future. It is a dead country full of dead youth.
On the high road of history on which each country must sooner or later travel, Nigeria has taken a lead in ignoble purposes. Nigeria is a classic example of a society where the youth dreamed but for which they no longer dared hope.
The future of humanity and the fate of our culture as a nation are at stake. During my visit to Nigeria last July, I was not able to enjoy moments of deep joy. Nowhere resembled the Nigeria that I grew up as a youth.
There was no deep feeling for humanity. No immediate surge of brotherly love. My heart swelled and tears came into my eyes. The youths I saw were depressed and despondent, sad, confused, and lost in transit as it were, not knowing where they were coming from and where they were headed.
Their eyes were unclear full of no confidence and hope. This expression of illuminated unhappiness I saw on their faces tells me the Nigerian youth is headed for extinction.
At once, a mental picture of Nigeria invaded my thought space: a crude and wicked nation, civilized yet uncivilized, literary yet illiterate, tasteless wealth stood out against a vast darkness.
The entire environment for the Nigerian youth remained hazy to me. It completely shut out any hope of redemption of our youth. Nigeria has become very inhospitable, unwelcome, and dangerous to its teeming homeless, lifeless, and dispossessed youth.
Like any other group in Nigeria, our youth suffers not just from human condition in general but from very specific social arrangements and government policies.
Implied from the foregoing is the incontrovertible truth that the situation of Nigerian youth is one that calls for political activity on the part of the victims – the youths.
For once let’s blame the youth for self inflicted apathy, cultivated timidity, paranoid fear, and criminal complacency for their situation. Today’s Nigerian youth are known for their almost traditional despair.
For them to create a better life, they must shake off the restrained spirit of compromise and conformity. They should shred the garment of stealth and silence. It is within the capacity of Nigerian youth to alter the political arrangements and government policies that work against them.
Nigerian youth have become less politicized. They are not ready to commit themselves to political action either out of compassion or solidarity with their suffering.
They seek to avoid the infliction of pain. They are painstakingly miserly in calculating the human costs of their political engagement with their oppressors.
These costs – real or imagined – are afflicted by overpowering anguish of cowardice, timidity, and shame. Nigerian youth should be reminded that they have the right to end their suffering by confronting the government.
They must be prepared to accept the price of suffering that will have to be paid in overthrowing the status quo. They must be resolved to unleash the raw energy of youth in organizing not agonizing, in demanding what is legitimately due to them, in challenging and fighting the oppressive political system that is ruining their lives.
I believe it is romantic illusion to expect President Obama or whoever for that matter to enact a Marshall Plan so to say, that will bail the Nigerian youth out of their abbreviated life. Their salvation lies in their own hands.
The ruling class doesn’t care what happens to them. After all their children are not among the suffering legion, they are stowed away in comfortable palaces scattered around the world.
History of resistance, protests, agitation, and rebellion against injustice, neglect, and tyranny continue to unfold every now and then before the very eyes of Nigerian youth.
Such events are not meant for consumption as TV entertainment but as a model for other victims to learn and replicate for their own benefit. Unfortunately, our youth remained undisturbed and unaffected.
Cataclysmic events of history produced beneficent change – change of ideas, values, and consciousness. The Nigerian youth should not be afraid of police beating, arrest, or being killed if need be to free them from poverty, meaningless, wasted, and unfulfilled life.
We should remind our youth that history is one endless massacre stretching back to the dawn of mankind. Wherever we are in history, we stand on a mountain of corpses – and, however terrible the thought, we are the beneficiaries of all this carnage.
Our youth should understand that the only language understood by those who are responsible for their stunted, empty, and broken life is confrontation not cooperation.
There is strength in numbers. The numbers are on their side. Let the youth take to the streets. Set fire of protest on the local governments, state governments and finally the federal government with prolonged and sustained determination that would bare fruits.
They should take the fight to the governors and demand their share of the so called security vote. Take the legislators and the president hostage and demand job creation bill. Demand for share of the legislator’s monthly compensation package of N29 million.
Disrupt and paralyze services from Lagos to Bayelsa, from Abuja to Kontagora, from Akure to Minna and let the tsunami of civil disobedience sink the whole country – simultaneously.
The youth should push ahead impatiently for necessary changes and reforms. They must move from resistance to aggression, from revolt to revolution.
Every protest or resistance or uprising has some notion of redemptive suffering. Some must die if Nigerian youth is to be liberated in a new order.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters