Remember the future, I always tell anyone that will listen. Remember the future... At first glance, the oxymoron of this statement is blatantly apparent. However, when pegged beside the rapid degeneration of Nigeria’s social and political affairs, due to the ever-increasing predicaments that have permeated our national landscape, the meaning of the warning becomes obvious.
I am twenty-four years old, and every morning I wake up tired of people in my age bracket still being symbolically strapped to our car seats as mere minors on the bus that is Nigeria. All around the world, my generation has shown that we are the one’s that are ready to drive social and political change – yet, in Nigeria, we are still considered citizen-accessories: unnecessary embellishments to the main course – until election-time comes and they need our votes.
Fifteen years ago in 1999, mine was the generation of boys and girls that ran through the streets with smiles and shouts, heralding the rebirth of our “democracy” – a term we did not yet fully understand. Fifteen years later, mine is the generation that has come to understand that what we claim to practice in Nigeria is a flawed democracy – and the stories of the autocratic restrictions of the military years, are gradually beginning to sound like our current experiences in this so called “democratic” era.
We have seen our dear Nigeria hover constantly amongst the lowest tiers of corruption indices, development indicators, and human rights evaluations. We have seen the many batons of leadership being passed from hand-to-hand; yet, we have largely and continuously been faced with uninspiring and ineffective leaders.
We have seen that those at the helm of our affairs have replaced our representative form of government – which is supposed to act on behalf of the people – with hard-handed pressure tactics that threaten the fabric of our democracy, and the stability of our unity. We have seen this, and much more, and because of this, we want more. We want ‘better.’
We want more because if we are truly to abide by the directives of our national anthem and pledge to serve Nigeria with all our strength, then, what we ask in return is for Nigeria too to serve us with all her strength. In this regard, going into 2015, as the younger generation, let us ask ourselves: are we content with where we are as a nation?
Are we happy to read and hear about the constant insecurity that is unfurling almost unperturbed; the needless political clampdowns against the opposition; and, the election-time promises of the last cycle that have not yet (and will probably never be) fulfilled?
If we are truthful with ourselves, we will acknowledge once and for us that although this is not the Nigeria that we want – the Nigerian that we need can be grasped soon and suddenly, because elections are right around the corner. If we are also truthful with ourselves, we will begin to question the veracity of many of the performance claims that are being touted in an effort to brainwash the exploitable masses into voting to conserve the status quo. If we are truthful with ourselves, we will make it our task, no, our duty, to begin to inform each other on the steps that we must take to ensure that our future as a nation is not associated with ‘failure.’
Nigeria, as it currently is, is too fragile to stand many more years of the business-as-usual antics that have gotten us to this point. Federal actors have made the main yardsticks for national leadership to be religion and ethnicity; insurgents are advancing within our borders, despite the valiant efforts of our servicemen and women; and, political tensions are at a feverish pitch.
Combine the aforementioned with the fact that power generation is currently at a 10 year low; oil benchmark prices are declining globally – which is sure to affect our economy; and our recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure ratio is outrageous at nearly 3.5 to 1.1.
The future is in our hands. We need to reclaim our country. We need to remember that there is a future that awaits us down the road, and we cannot live only for today. Let us educate ourselves on the pertinent issues; let us become a generation of informed voters that looks beyond geography, ethnicity and religion in the selection of our leaders.
Our current collective difficulties are too many to kick down the road until the next election after 2015. We must solve them now by choosing competent leaders that can alter the current course of our national affairs.
As has been said before: The ball is in our court as the world awaits our next move… How will we respond?
This opinion editorial was written by Olu Wole Onemola and can be reached via twitter handle: @OluWoleOnemola