While I was still a little boy, my mother, after one fateful morning, when I was ready for school, said to me “you shall be great”. She was full of smiles. It was a reassuring affirmative smile she wore that morning. I had nodded to her saying without any practical understanding of what her statement meant. If it was to convince me to go to school, I cannot tell. I was five years old, then.
Mama never stopped saying that four word sentence any morning she prepares me for school. With a pat on the back, sometimes, or a soothing rubbing on my two shoulders, Mama will say “you shall be great”. This word registered in me, something that became part of my life. A prophetic statement as it sounds, it has been ingrained in my psychic that as I sit with other kids in class, Mama’s voice reechoes in my mind – “you shall be great”. When I became twelve, Mama changed the tone and tenor of her message. “You shall be a great leader”, she told me. Not in the afternoon, or at night. No. It was always in the morning while I was ready with my school bag right behind my back, for school.
Mama verbally and instinctively constructed my personality with her words. Shaping my mode of thoughts and dealings with matters that has to do with leadership, I saw in myself a person who is going to be at the forefront of events that can change, shape and reshape history. Right from the home front, Mama started teaching me what my life will later be like. These Mama’s statements will later start producing seeds of a-leader-in-the-making. It was the Classical Literary Scholar of all times, William Shakespeare who said in his book Merchant of Venice that “some are born great, others achieve greatness, while others have greatness thrust on them”. I will later find my class, amongst the three categories.
At twenty three years of age, Mama is still alive – full of hope and dreams for me. She has watched me grow from a five year old boy to twelve, and now, to twenty years old. I am now in the university. Mama’s prayers and wishes are not in vain. When I graduate from the university, I may become “a great leader” as Mama has always projected and
prophesied. One day, after trekking some 5killometres from the city where my university is located, to the house, Mama called me to say something to me. I sat listening to her like a seven year old child listening to Albert Einstein explain the ½mv2 rule. With her hand supporting her jaw, my mother said to me “I know you shall be great, one day”. Mama repeated this, at this time, gazing out through the opened door to the tin air. Mama looked resigned and uncertain. I read it on her face. Of course, whenever Mama tells me these words, I usually agree with a nod of the head. This day was not different. I answered “yes ma” with a nod and with my mouth. If Mama was telling me that “I shall be great” based on the realities of her time, or based on her dreams, hope and visions of motherliness, I cannot tell. Why the sullenness and sudden resignation on the face of my ever enthusiastic mother? Well, whatever the case, she has sown a seed in me that is beginning to germinate.
I am sure that readers of this piece are also wandering why my mama changed her looks. Why is she moody and melancholy? Why is she unsure?. Mama will say to me “you shall be great”. This statement is not free of positivity, and then, it sounds futuristic. Its futuristic tenor may not be unconnected with the ever resounding phrase from the older people that “youth are the leaders of tomorrow” (a tomorrow that never came, like Samuel Beckette’s Godot in Waiting for Godot). For Mama to support her jaw with her hand and gaze into the air while telling me that “I shall be great” at this time means that all is not well in my nation. Things have fallen apart. The old men have refused to go. The power house is still steaming hot by those who are stoking the fire of inefficiency, and domesticating mediocrity over meritocracy. The aged has stayed for too long in the trenches of political formation that my mother is not sure that I and others are ever going to lay hold on that power and dictate how our lives should be run in this our age that is in every ramification, legendarily different from theirs. The youth are the future, the bedrock and strength of any society and the nation at large. The failure of any country in the world cannot be exonerated from the failure of its youths who either did not play their part, or played it negatively. Therefore, it’s a ripped time justice is entrenched in our nation, Nigeria.
We live in a country where an individual who is 40 years and above is considered old for a job placement in the corporate world, but a man of 60-80 years and above is seen as constitutionally competent for political office. This is an anomy. It’s a cheer injustice of the highest degree. If we can thrust the future of our industries and establishments to younger minds, why not the today and tomorrow of our country, to the same crop of people? It’s no doubt whatsoever that the old days of Nigeria was marked by and resulted from the intelligent leadership of the youths of then. Now, the fate of the country lies in the bosom of weak, obsolete, inefficient and socially unadjusted minds who have piloted the affairs of the country for ages— in a jet age of internet. It takes being young to run with the vision. Old men only dream dreams, but young men see and run with the vision. A dream is what could be while a vision is what will be. There’s no gainsaying the fact that things have really fallen apart. The old has lived out their lives. It’s now time to pass on the political baton to the present generation of vibrant, pragmatic, and impressionistic youths, to build us to A New Nigeria. They alone have the strength, idea, creativity, innovative spirit, and the will-power to run! Whatever the argument, the present condition of lives and property in Nigeria shows that the older people have failed to deliver on the dividends of democracy, and young people needs to take charge. The old people don’t understand the hi-tech world we live in today. The language of the
youth, the taste, ideology, method of learning, and the feelings of the youth are directly a contradistinction of what the old men are concerned with— in government. How can you, a man of 60-80 draw up policies, programmes and projects for youths whom you don’t know their manner of conducting affairs in today’s world? It’s only the young minds that can fully understand and appreciate the feelings and thoughts of fellow youth.
The Nigerian National Youth Policy (2009) defines youth as “persons between 18-35 years”. For the African Youth Charter, youth or young people are referred to as “every person between the ages of 15-35”. A world body, the United Nations, defines a youth as “persons between the ages of 15 and 35”. On a general scale, youth age is the time of life between childhood and adulthood. A person that have the appearance, freshness, vigour, spirit; is physically fit, mentally sound, morally upright, full of practicable ideas, and socially adjusted, is a youth. These are the caliber of people Africa needs to drive the visions of the founding fathers of the continent. Nigeria needs these kinds of people in this time of austerity.
Most of the people we have had and still have today in the corridors of power were relevant in their days as youths. Agunyi Ironsi was 42 as a military head of state; Yakubu Gowon 32, Muritala Mohammed 37, Olusegun Obassanjo, 39, Ibrahim Babangida 44, and the present president of Nigeria was 41 years old when he was Nigeria’s military head of state. Today, he’s still our president, at 75. Our Minister for Agriculture was 39 when he served as Federal Minister for Communication. Today, he is 70—still serving as a minister!
In the present dispensation, globally, the political space has witnessed a dramatic paradigm shift that is reshaping events. The political narratives of nations are taking a new turn. The crucible of history stood erect when it all started in France, when Emmanuel F. Macron aged 39 ran and emerged magnanimously as the youngest elected president in France (May 7th, 2017). Whether in a developed, developing or under- developing world, history is been made in the political atmosphere, as young intelligent minds are taking the lead. Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada is 45. Jacinda Kate Laurel of New Zealand is 37, Juri Ratas of Estonia is 39, Sebastian Kurz, the Austria President is 31, and George Weah of Liberia is 51. This is just to mention a few of the countries where younger bloods are seizing power— designing favourable economic policies and programmes for their citizen. Can this be said to be the political trappings of a progressive country that will be obtainable in Nigeria’s democratic landscape in the nearest future?
Emphatically espousing, it’s no news to the public domain that young people are systematically marginalized because of their age, limited opportunities and projected lack of exposure and experience which when examined, are not the true test of or standard in attaining a better political maturity. Unless youth in Nigeria participate in politics, we cannot expect a paradigm shift in the status quo that has defined the African political land map — that of gerontocracy. The rot, brazen corruption, moral ineptitude, lack of vision for the continent, glairing incompetence and immoral tendency
to keep hold on power, are traits of the African political rulers, and young people can make the difference.
With heightened veneration, hate, disgruntled feelings of neglect and disenfranchisement, young people have taken the back seat— doing dirty jobs— campaign rallies, thuggery, e-thugging, panegyric-hero-worshipping, and apotheosizing of the political godfathers and other nefarious acts which some randy politicians use them as ready tools for. Instead of creating a formidable niche for our survival as young people, we seem to have resigned to fate, like my mother, at a point in her life. We have adopted the “follow-follow” approach behind the old youths; complaining instead of exacting our creative selves via the social media to register our demands and call our Representatives to order, we rather watch porn and blame others for our woes. I think this will change, come 2019, as we are going to constitute the most fortified, unbreakable allies the world has never known, and construct the most dangerous commodity in the market place— ideas which we will use to disrupt the status quo.
Everything is changing. We live in an invigoratingly changing world. The young people understand it better. It is today that we talk about “digital language”, “digital humanity”, “digital education”, “digital economy”, “digital environment”, “digital social relation”, “digital Medicare”, “digital worship service”, “digital transportation”, “digital commerce”(buying and selling) and “digital eating habit”.
Our forebears never knew this. Those who have ruled us and are still clinching to power don’t know what this virtual world entails. You and I know how it works, wholesale. While the objective of this piece of mine is not to engender a philistine argument, it should be posited that those whose cognitive dissonance seem to be legendary should not hesitate to pillory my views.
With you and I are fully aware of the state of our country, you cannot ascertain otherwise that we need a New Nigeria, managed by a competent pilot. My salvo then, is on this wise:
We need a New Nigeria whose President is a visionary leader that is mentally sound, physically fit, morally upright, and socially adjusted to handle the realities of today’s world. We need a New Nigeria where her President is not elected based on sentiment and warped tribalistic hold. A Nigeria where her President can hire and fire a non performing cabinet member without prejudice, is what we are yearning for. Our New Nigeria should be a place where you pay for light, and you see the light to use. The New Nigeria of our dream is a place where one graduates from the University and gets a job placement without hassle; a place where market men and women smile to the bank every weekend—– because the economy has stopped oscillating, the environment is made conducive for business to thrive, and the government did not milk them dry with nothing in return; a Nigeria where investors are free to plunge in their resources without fear of either being kidnapped or bombed by some miscreants; a New Nigeria defined by the police truly becoming your friend and criminal elements brought to book; that Nigeria where the money awarded for road construction is used for road construction; a New Nigeria where the elderly, the girl-child and the less privileged are catered for; a Nigeria where education is not given a belated concern is what we seek; a Nigeria where corruption and corrupt practices are not given “blessed assurance”; a New Nigeria is that Nigeria where their hospitals are useful, where no one has to die on arrival in the hospitals; where human beings that have conscience attend to patients; Nigeria of our hunger is a place where hard work is rewarded, talents discovered and promoted, and capital flight minimized; our New Nigeria is a society void of night marauders and attackers who destroy our dignity and tarnish our image before the eyes of the world; the New Nigeria is that country where names such as Amaechi, Bamidele, Comfort, Danladi, and Eruvbetine does not generate rift.
That Nigeria of our desire is a place where everyone does and encourages others to do what is right at all times; a sane society where hunger is consigned into the history book of the devil; where there’s a scarcity of strike actions by workers; where our good values and personal dignity is still held in high degree; a Nigeria where we have access to good drinkable water; not a place where we produce garri, but keep importing eba; we seek a Nigeria where her citizen can lead and not be ruled by some group of men. The list as you quite know, are inexhaustible.
Someone at this point is asking the righteous question. “Mr. Writer, is this New Nigeria a possibility”? Of course, it is. With the dynamically charismatic and learned persona of Fela Durotoye, and other young fellows who are indicating their interests for the Presidency, it’s Possible. Young people are the only drivers, the only true agents and positive catalysts to make this happen. We can create the Nigeria we want, come 2019. We have the power. We are in the majority. So, instead of engaging in social media caterwalling and e-thugging, posting acerbic and corrosive comments, which both defame, deface and taint political characters, let’s reflect, think deep and channel our invaluable energy to something we can beat our chest in pride for. It’s happening in other climes. You know that. With all the Nigerian youth surrounding these chaps and voting the old plantain trees out, we can realize our dream Nigeria. Firstly, go and get your PVC! and be ready to vote. Enough of these talks and buy over every election time!
Amaechi Emmanuel .O., is a Sociopreneur with a top-notch Service and Experience delivery to humanity. A UNESCO Award Winner; he writes essays, short stories, poems, and most importantly, he is interested in political, social, civil leadership, youths and girl-child discourses.
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