By UbongAbasi Ise
“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.” – Kurt Cobain
I am with Nigerian blood running in my veins. And I’ve grown all my life in this great country. Sincerely speaking, I may not have a record of corporeal presence outside the soil of this country, but I must say with pride that I have some opportunities and privileges to touch down on some parts of the country. I have seen all it takes to be a Nigerian youth. In this very era that I belong, the true definition of a typical Nigerian youth is profoundly associated with struggling, hustling, and perhaps, suffering. But interestingly, an average Nigerian youth, despite being surrounded by fogs of uncertainties, still remains optimistic hoping the future would be bright in a country of burning black sun which breathes nothing but blistering, dark smokes; a country where the youths are fixed at the receiving end. Even the education system in Nigeria is extremely cruel, and it is not for the lazy. Job opportunities are reserved for the privileged, or gotten out of blind luck. And there is this dictum for Nigerian graduates that says don’t look for white-collared job, start small business: but where is the small capital to start with when the majority of the youths are living from hand to mouth? The graduates that are already jaundiced about the system, have embraced this reality, and they no longer mind picking up any informal enterprise no matter how ignoble it might be. That is Nigeria.
I may not really have the full view of the situation the youths in other climes are struggling with, but I can only say about those in Nigeria. Sincerely speaking, I intimately understand how hardworking most Nigerian youths could be. I have seen the youths both educated and uneducated building mansions, driving assortment of cars, and raising families without having anything to do with government. In Akwa Ibom State where abundance of Nigeria’s crude oil is deposited, one may not believe that most youths outside the communities where oil productions are taking place have not set eyes on the barrels of crude oil since their birth. Some only hear that Akwa Ibom is rich in crude oil and is one of the top earners of oil proceeds from the federation account but sense no direct benefit in relations to their welfare.
In respect to President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment on Nigerian youths during Commonwealth Business Forum at Westminster in far away United Kingdom which has caused serious hullabaloo both on mainstream and social media, I am at the position of blaming the youths not for waiting for oil proceeds but for sitting down doing nothing, watching as the old guards and thiefing politicians are practically transforming their young brains to the means with which they achieve their self-serving ends. Because of outré silence of the youths, the power class sees in youths weakness instead of strength; they see naïveté instead of influence while ensuring that the quandaries threatens the future of young Nigerians remains unabated. But what always surprises me is how the power class always manages to tactically divide the youths along political lines, and render them rivals without giving them opportunity to stand on a common ground to rethink their future. Youths are turned into sycophants, election materials, thugs, beggars; they are formed into rented crowds, and used in showcasing numeral strength to demoralize oppositions, and at the end they are abandoned till the next elections.
It is not unsurprising that every self-serving interest would be cloaked in decisions and policies in the name of youths. In Akwa Ibom, youths would always occupy the place of primacy in discussions during decision-making processes but at the point of implementation, they would conveniently be relegated to background, neglected and altogether forced to face the harshness of unfavourable side of policies imposed on them because they don’t appear to be feisty enough. All the vision politicians have for youths in the State only anchored on their anticipated victory in the next general elections. They hoaxed the youths to believe that their prosperity lies in their political success. It’s a pity.
As put by Kailash Satyarthi, “the power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.” Unfortunately in our clime, instead of the officials bickering over the power of togetherness of the youths, the youths instead become afraid to articulate their grievances because they do not want to fall out of the favour with the powers that be. For example, many a time, my good friends would counsel me against the tendency of using media to remind government on how to go about the business of democracy for the good of the entire citizenry. They maintained that if I continue that way, I may not have instantaneous landing on material prosperity. It makes me wonder if this is the general fear of Akwa Ibom youths. If this is the wide-ranging mentality, then I can see why government officials inexorably manipulate the polity within the ambit of their interest without the recourse to the mood of the youths.
As Buhari had mentioned the issue of housing in his infamous comment, youths in Akwa Ibom have not asked questions about housing. That is the basis of their material growth. It is not all about government building roads and other infrastructures. Young people need housing. I know some youths are gradually staying above abject hunger, and they are covering their nakedness anyway, but the problem of acquiring housing today remains quite intractable. It is important to bring up a scheme to help low income earning youths to acquire accommodation. With a home, youths can easily settle down to a responsible and productive life and stay away from social vices. Once a young man gets his personal abode, he is likely to settle into a life of responsibility. Nobody would persistently advise him on how to stay away from indulging in avoidable criminalities if only he is preoccupied with domestic responsibility. As election time is fast approaching, it is time for the youths to sit down and articulate the future of housing with those jostling for the opportunity for leadership. The time is now not when the elections are won and lost.
Buhari’s comment is a wake-up call for the youths to stand up against conspiracy aimed at keeping them in perpetual bondage by greedy power-mongers. If the youths stand up, their dirty tricky game is over.
Yes! I am UbongAbasi Ise. For comment, send SMS to 08189914609 |firstname.lastname@example.org