Nigerians are known to be industrious, disciplined, intelligent and nice naturally. However, current events in our National life seem to suggest that we as a Nation have derailed. Nigerians are being viewed with suspicion both home and abroad. In the recent past, it was not uncommon to see admonitions by Foreign Governments that their Nationals should not do any business with Nigerians. Even the way we are frisked at the International airports left a lot to be desired and our case was not helped by the attempted bombing of a US bound airline last year December by a young Nigerian Al Multallab. We are known as scammers, robbers, drug peddlers, assassins and dishonest people.
Here at home, the case is not different. The British (I guess for their selfish reasons) amalgamated the North and South, with diverse cultural, religious and historical differences in 1914. This is one of their greatest undoing .The military take-over post Independence and the coup of 1966 and its consequences especially for the Igbos (the vanquished)especially after the Civil war of 1967-70 heralded the birth of hate, mistrust and a sense of fore-boding of our respective cultures. Despite the introduction of the National Youth Corps Scheme (NYSC) in 1973 by the General Gowon led leadership, integration and social tolerance for each other has become an illusion and one offered with theatrics.
The irresponsibility and corruption of our leaders past and present both during the Military and Civilian dispensation has left our Country in quagmire…the Manufacturing sector is comatose, the Agricultural sector is on a sick bed, with foodstuffs being imported, The Power sector is still a puzzle that defies practical solutions (even when we know a feasible solution is realistic if we really need change) and the Educational sector is critically ill churning out graduates, many of whom are unemployed; the story is same for other sectors. Change is inevitable but we still fold our hands or aspire to join the bandwagon of an elite political class that has held the nation to ransom.
A little over 5% of the Nation’s population amassing quite a huge amount of money personally that is meant for the infrastructural development of our Country. Their children schooling abroad, they attending health checkups and treatment overseas while our Health institutions are possessing obsolete equipments, their acquisition of gigantic properties here and overseas, acquiring a fleet of State- of –the art cars that leave the youths stupefied. Federal jobs have become juicier jobs because they present an opportunity for less work and greater access to Federal and Local Government finances. Dignity in labor is no longer respected and thus we arrived at this junction of woes and acquired the illness- The Get Rich Quick Syndrome (GRQS). A disease that makes Youths give in to yahoo-yahoo business, rituals, murder, armed robbery and kidnapping which is notoriously becoming lucrative by the day, to mention some of the nefarious activities.
Every young Man wants to drive a jeep without sweating for it, the ladies would say dem no dey chop love and go into prostitution-Corporate and personal to be embellished in the latest fashion fad in town. Power emanating from such wealth have been known to subjugate the efficacy and independence of the Judiciary from the Executive such that if one is privileged, he/she can do anything and get away with it.
All these will take us nowhere! We are not meant to serve our Nation for what we can gain but the service our Nation would gain from us. Someone told me last week that the youths are to be blamed for allegedly selling their ‘birthrights’ to the ‘Old Breed’ of politicians who shortchange them and shut the doors on them after the ‘election business’ is over. It was the retired General Babangida (the acclaimed evil-genius) who asserted sometime ago the irrelevance of the Youths in today’s politics. He should take a look at the cabinet and staff of the US President Obama and he would realize how young and vibrant they are.
The relevance of the Youth in our National growth cannot be over –emphasized. The immediate contributions Prof. Mrs Dora Akunyili- the current Minister of Information, the erstwhile Minister of Education Dr .Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, Dr Okonjo Iweala, AIG of Police retired Nuhu Ribadu and others to mention a few have left golden footprints and still continue to leave a mark in the sands of time.
A re-orientation has to be put in place for the Youths, self-employment encouraged with capital loans and financing, Government agencies have to be encouraged and urged to go about their job diligently and the Judiciary has to prosecute defaulters and corrupt civil service workers no matter how coveted or high-ranking they may be. Also Prof. Attahiru Jega the newly appointed Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman has to prove that he can be an activist even in politics by ensuring the quick and effective registration of voters and conduct of credible elections come next year. Nigeria must not be a failed State! Rather than become dysfunctional, I would say lets break up for our good (no one should misunderstand me) but if we must forge ahead as one, then we should break those barriers of religion and learn to tolerate one another and also give a chance to merit rather than mediocrity or connection to get the right jobs and contracts.
Fast money vanishes through the fast lane!