• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
businessday logo


Re: Nigerian youth, when will thy tomorrow come?


The above-named article by Justice Okamgba published in BusinessDay of April 12, 2013 refers.

The message contained in that beautiful piece is well-thought and piquant. Unfortunately, the youths of today are not ready to work. They want to eat (chop) without working. Most of us are not willing to do anything. The youth of the old that are elders of today worked very hard to attain the leadership position they enjoy today.

Check out how the youths of yesteryears like the late Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Anthony Enahoro, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Gani Fawehinmi, Chinua Achebe, etc lived their youthful lives. The living ones like Wole Soyinka, Femi Falana, Nelson Mandela, etc were forces to reckon with in their youthful years. This goes to support the saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. From their vibrant youthful lives you could decipher their destination. These were vibrant youths that led, and still lead, vibrant, edifying, ebullient and indefatigable lives. I give it to them any time, any day, anywhere.

These great men in their youthful years did not wait for their parents, community leaders, governors and presidents to achieve their aims. I tell anybody that cares to listen that they did not wait for the coast to be clear before they sailed. Theirs was even much more a difficult terrain because Nigeria was under the control of another country. Technological development was very low. Infrastructural development, education, transportation, communication, etc were poor. According to my late father, life was much more difficult in the sense that you would walk long distances before you could work and eat. In my village, just about three persons could boast of using blocks to build their houses. It was thatched houses galore unlike now you can see mansions in the same village. Purchase of bicycle was celebrated as if it was an aeroplane unlike now that people from the same village buy jeeps.

We the youths of today are very lazy. Steps to rise in life naturally unfold and are observed. Take my hometown, Aba in Abia State. While unemployment seemed to be rearing its ugly head in the mid-1980s, people were very busy. While there were cries of unemployment, visit any compound in Aba in the afternoon and you would not see anybody. The natural trend then was that you could learn trading, in which case you had to serve somebody on the agreement that the person or your parents would start a business for you after a certain period of time, or if either party did not start any business for you, you could rely on credit based on the goodwill you would have established with people over the years. You could also learn some other trade (welding, carpentry, tailoring, etc) based on the aforesaid agreement. These alternatives were discussed by parents if the young man or woman lacked the ability to do well in education.

The careers and future of the youth were discussed in detail by parents, even the courses one would study in the higher institution. Most of the youths of today are not ready for that. They see a forward-looking or positive advice as a waste of time. “You talk too much” is always their response each time you want to advise them. They see lecturers that advise them as talkative. To read is a big problem. BlackBerry and browsing are the beginnings of wisdom, not listening attentively to the lecturer. Some of them will ask for non-existent state-of-the-art facility and the most conducive of environments to read. They have all manner of excuses to give why they cannot read.

The belief of today’s youths is that if we do not commit crime and distract members of the society and our leaders, we will not make it to the top. Our thinking is that God understands; he will forgive us and grant us our desires. That is a big lie. The youths of yesterday did not use any act of negativity to achieve whatever they are today. Those great men used dialogue, boycott and strikes to achieve their aims. They only used force when it was proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they should.

Most of the youths given the opportunities to lead have messed up. Look at the economy generally, and then look at the drama that led to the exit of the leaders of the National Assembly, the House of Representatives particularly, since 1999. Are those leaders not all below the age of 60? What do we say to that? If a youth is given the position of Tony Anenih, he will probably mess it up. Which of the youths can even be the chairman of any of the big parties we have in Nigeria?

Not long ago one youthful Kanu swore that if an unelected president did not win an election, he would commit suicide. He organised the youths and they held a rally in Abuja. When his dream did not come true, did he commit suicide? The youths were not forced to go to Abuja. They did not reject whatever silver or gold they were given. Should we take this as an excuse for allowing dictatorship to thrive? Should we blame the elders for this?

The truth is that we do not seem to be ready for the challenges of today. If we seriously need the change we are talking about as youths, we should stop all manner of criminal activities. I suggest we learn the winning ways of youths of yesteryears, work hard, eschew corruption, and try to excel in every opportunity we are given. When we do this, the old men/women will give way.



Agu writes from Oworonshoki, Lagos