Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and the most populous black nation in the world is one with a very healthy youth population, more than 50% of her 170m or thereabout people stand between ages 18-45, the active youth range but one who has not made a very good use of this enthralling stats to the best of her abilities. The reason behind this looks as bright as the sunlight only to go fuzzy like a foggy sky when laid down to bits.
Forty-five years ago, the nation was just reclaiming the spoils of a civil war and reconstructions and development were as high as the Nigerian dream. We had been through the toughest period since our independence and right at the heart of this war were two very young Generals, both trained in the United Kingdom and whose ages were as close as the tooth, they had the future of a whole nation to themselves, a whole generation before them and whether they did it the right way or the wrong was strictly theirs to decide, decisions whose output has placed us here, right on the platform we breathe. General Yakubu Gowon was 32 and General Odumegwu Ojukwu was 33 in 1967, when the Nigerian nation was almost splitting. Courageous young men you’ll call them but a two backed by the voice of a people who were ready for what may happen at its end. The gallantry showed by this two young men may be lacking in the present day Nigerian youth, but is the fault totally his?
Days when Segun Okeowo lead Nigerian students against military governments, bedazzled by similar voices of courageous young men who would go to any length to protect their mates in the Universities, using studentship as an opportunity to correct basic social inequities and to make known their wants and needs from the government may be over. What we have now at best are student union leaders who act as the concubines of our leaders who give them money to make piquant stews and shut deterring family members up. The days when Wole Soyinka gracefully and defiantly made his voice heard against bad governance to the people are over, days when the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti was constantly an enemy to the militia of old can only be relished on the edge of our lips. The present day Nigerian youth lacks a warfare, lacks the will to fight pungency that’s now the Nigerian norm, he lacks a power of purpose, no thanks to a merry-go-round power sharing at the helm of affairs. A reoccurrence of the same people at the pinnacle of the Nigerian life. He is losing faith in himself through a faith lost in his nation.
Naivety may be attributed to the Nigerian youth, a right notion on arguable terms, but what could the youth have done when employment opportunities fizzle away like the scent of a fake perfume? Where is the power of the youth when the same power is being tinkered with and shared by the same old forces? How much has the past done in the present to secure a future? The brightest opportunity we had to change the course of the Nigerian youths movement was blown away into a stark oblivion by someone we know so well, someone placed with a hope for a future but whose corrupt ends won’t make him think farther beyond his sight yet he was a youth, a very lively youth.
Now that the social networks are the biggest forces Nigerian youths can make their unhappiness known and their voices further heard, we have to make a wholesome use of it, a very healthy use of it. We have a voice and we shall be heard. The march for a better youth action has to start from the Universities, talk is cheap, actions has to start being active and the Nigerian people must start to know the Nigerian youth is neither naïve nor weak, he’s just a victim of a failed generation who’s best been critical of a future they spoilt through their selfishness. A generation that promises so much but will only deliver little if its potentials is not accurately harnessed. We are faced with a battle of greatness or losses, a battle of bane or boon, doom or glee, we have a future to change and an unborn generation to make, we were never made, we have to build a better Nigeria. The Nigerian youth is not a weakling, he’s only undervalued and underexploited.