BusinessDay

A generation of ‘hushpuppies’ in Nigeria

There is a mad rush for the accumulation of wealth in Nigeria. The youth having watched the older generation plunder the nation’s resources and amass illicit wealth for themselves, crave to join the fray.
Emphasis is no longer on acquisition of skills. No one is ready to “suffer before pleasure” nowadays. Everybody is in a rat race to join the millionaire club.
Cutting corners has become the acceptable way to become rich without working for it.
The rot begins from home. It is common these days to see some fathers and mothers raking in money through questionable ways, and terming it “being smart.”

The public office holder that owns choice buildings and a fleet of state-of-the-art vehicles through corruption brags about his ill-gotten wealth and society celebrate him. Meanwhile, because of his illicit activities, many citizens are deprived of better healthcare (if he were in the health sector), better education (if he were in the education sector), better road infrastructure (if he were in charge of works), better security (if he were in that sector), among others.

The Abba Kyaris of this world, for instance, was supposed to provide security, but the world is hearing what he allegedly did with the high position he held.
Somebody was recently questioning the moral high ground of universities rusticating students for examination malpractices, whereas some vice chancellors themselves have allegedly become easy tools for election rigging in the country.
The observer was by no means justifying examination fraud, but was worried at the level of election malfeasance allegedly being aided by members of the academia drafted to play some roles in the nation’s electoral process.

Today, many students have abandoned the classroom chasing money to live like Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, alias Hushpuppies, of this world.
Youths are no more interested in acquiring such skills as carpentry, mason, shoe-making, mechanic, vulcanizing, among others. For them, this is purely a waste. They want instant money. They want to make it big in a twinkle of an eye. That is why the Nigerian cities are populated with an army of commercial motorcycle riders (Okoda).
Even some youths in the universities are there for the fulfilment of righteousness as it were. Some are there physically to please their parents. They create the impression that they are schooling, but they are into other hidden things that they believe would make them stupendously rich.

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Those who want instant “hammer” join ‘Yahoo, Yahoo’. Some of them are in various cult groups where they have mortgaged their lives for promised wealth.
They want to enjoy life to the fullest in their youth. Their dream is to own mansions; own private jets; wear designer cloths, write watches and shoes. For them, life is only for enjoyment.
The generation today is the one that has its youths as those who want to spray money and display their wealth like the Obi Cubanas of this world.

To this generation, Hushpuppi is a role model even in the midst of the expose on his kind of business and the friendship he kept.
Perhaps, the blame should be laid at the doorsteps of Nigerian political leaders. The politicians’ greed to amass excess wealth and corner the common wealth may have negatively influenced the youth.
Over the years, the youth have seen that it is the politicians that recruit them to do terrible job of thuggery during elections and spend heavily to hijack election result without consequences.
They have also watched that within four years a politician gets to public office he has become a multi-millionaire, even those of them that do not have good education.
It has been said over and over again that part of the major problem of Nigeria is faulty leadership recruitment process.

As 2023 is drawing nearer, many youths are clamouring for power shift, but observers say this does not happen in a vacuum as power is not served à la carte; it must be struggled for.
Many people believe that the youth have not prepared themselves enough to step into the driver’s seat of the nation’s leadership, despite the signing into law in 2018 of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill.
Who are the youths being prepared for leadership tomorrow? Those whose parents are known to have gone the criminal extent of writing exams for or hiring mercenaries to write exams for them?

Some parents compromise invigilators to smuggle answers into exam hall for their children. To gain admission into the university, some parents pay heavily in cash and in kind.
In this era, when competition into the university is hot, some parents go to any extent, sometimes they boast about their willingness to do whatever it takes to make their son or daughter pass a particular exam or gain admission.
Today, parents are also known to engage in all manner of unethical practices to ensure their sons or daughters get job into certain places.

Anthony Matthew, a banker, believes that over-pampering of children, particularly in area of “spoiling them with money”, has a way of exerting negative influence on the children.
According to Matthew, “When such children watch their parents throw their wealth about, particularly when the source of such wealth is not clear; they tend to lose the essence of life, early in life, which negatively impacts the society. For instance, when a child watches his father or mother takes certain illicit way to influence his admission into the university, such a step would leave some question marks in the mind of such a child, and before long. The child will begin to, consciously or unconsciously, imbibe negative values that may in the long run erode and corrode our good values.”

To avoid breeding more Hushpuppies in Nigeria, all hands must be on deck. The government must take seriously the issue of investing in the youth for the future. The deceptive and wishy-washy “empowerment programmes” must stop.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) must come up with creative programmes to redirect the youth on the path of values that build a nation.

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