Thursday 9 October 2014

Nigerian Youths’ Long Walk To Freedom - by Jeff Okoroafor

Thirty per cent or nothing! I have listened to the arguments; I heard the ideology behind the demand and just like Martin Luther King Jr. said, “One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.

“Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” It is not an offence for young people in Nigeria to demand a reasonable representation or inclusion in the governance of the country where the measurement of full power dependency and true national transformation lies in the strength of their solution.

The youth of every nation, of every generation, come with them, fresh perspective, optimism, and enthusiasm that matches the dynamical century they are living in today and as such, are the right instrument for leadership. But there are more to having just the right perspective, the optimistic feelings and interest to create change…that “more”, is the “little” gap that needs to be filled and the required content to fill in this gap however, must be a fusion of both the old and the young, because it is in doing so that the youth of this nation get the chance they need to make the change they want.

My piece is not to trivialise the cogent and viable demand of the young, brilliant minds in Nigeria, after all, I know very well that the secret message communicated to most young people today in the country by same old people who have been in the helm of leadership is that they are not needed; that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reins. Yet the fact is that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear on our difficulties. For a society to attempt to solve its desperate problems without the full participation of even very young people is imbecile.

This is not “class” warfare; it is a “generational” warfare. And it’s not a problem of this administration alone but a societal decadence inspired by previous leadership and old wealthy people of yesterday and today who declared war on young people. That is the real war that is going on right now. And that is the war we’ve got to talk about, that is the war we need to find a solution to.

Nigeria being the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous in the world, triggers a delicate signal. Because according to projections, Nigeria will grow to a population index of about 250 million people by the year 2020, what that means is that, we can either become a danger to ourselves and to the rest of the world if nothing is done to empower the teeming population of young people, or we will become one of the world’s largest economies.

In all these, the young people are too relaxed. They feel extremely comfortable where they are and choose not to press for inclusion with a follow-up strategy. Over the years, they have watched same leaders, same old people, recycle themselves from one political position to another, including the very ones meant for young people. The people with power are not willing to let go, the prospective candidates from the young circles are not doing much to join the party, so the walk for their freedom, our freedom, is quite longer than many of them currently think. The walk to freedom, to their liberation, is uncertain, not because they don’t know what to do, but because they lack the unifying will to do that.

Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” With a conclusive suggestion, Nigerians should show how valuable they are and the revolution they seek shall reach them even quicker than they think.

May God help us all in Nigeria.

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