• Friday, May 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Of MTV generation and being selfishly brilliant!

businessday-icon

  Some people like to go about telling us, sometimes, that government has a lot of brilliant people serving in different capacities. They talk especially about those who have come from the Diaspora and are making a difference! Whenever indulgees hear this yarn, they burst out in very wild laughter! As a Chief Indulgee, my laughter tends to be of a different variety, very likely induced by some brilliance of my own! But then, laughter is what we all do brilliantly (no pun intended) here at the Square Table. We just laugh and laugh and laugh. And our laughter is not anything as to suggest that we are obeying the order, “as the spirit leads”. After all, one junior finance minister who thought he was cracking a joke when he used that expression to indirectly describe the actions of one governor without a state, soon found that the wilderness beckons on those who crack jokes in public places without thinking of the private or personal consequences!

That’s the way it is in Nigeria. You have to constantly be careful what you say, what you do, who you are with, where you are seen, and so on and so forth. But brilliance can come in different shapes and sizes. During the military era, when a certain Ibrahim Badamosi Babandiga held this country spellbound, many people thought of his team as the most brilliant ever assembled to deliver for this country. If you do not belong to Nigeria’s own MTV generation, you will easily remember names such as Kalu Idika Kalu, Emmanuel Osamon, Chu S. P. Okongwu, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, Oluremi Aribisala and Maria Sokenu, among several others. These were brilliant men and women, who had a combined capacity to turn things around. But today, we know where we are.

That’s why whenever anybody starts talking about how brilliant people in government are, indulgees just take a pause and laugh some more. For they ask: Of what use is a gathering of brilliant men and women who can’t bring about the kind of change that people ask for? Well, this might seem like an unusually hard stuff for typical Square Table rant, but I think this is justified! It’s about time we stuck it up to those who like to wallow in the accolade that they are brilliant, yet when they get into government use their brilliance to their own end. Why is it that brilliant people who get on board and then see that they can’t make headway under the circumstance in which they work do not do the honourable thing of just saying, “enough is enough”? Why do they not do this? Well, one cliché based-indulgee just whispered, “your guess is as good as mine”. Well, point of correction, this Chief Indulgee is not going to make any guess at all! Your guess is your guess… my guess is my guess! After that, you are on your own (OYO)!

As I write this in the cold spring of Stockport, United Kingdom, where I have just had to dash to from London after dinner with bankers, my head is so poignantly influenced by the telling question of a man with more than 25 years of banking experience. He had asked me: “What do you see of the future of young children?” He is European, from a continent still finding it difficult to get out of the financial crises of recent years. He has every reason to be worried for young children, especially those from Europe. But it’s much more than a European problem; it is a global issue. But while in other places they are thinking of what might become of children, those who are supposedly brilliant and are in government in Nigeria are thinking differently; surely not about the future of children. They think of their own future, a dying future, instead of thinking of the future of young people who hold the keys to unlock the future. Selfishness is at the heart of this behaviour. And it is what this brilliant talk is all about! They are not making any difference, and if they are making any slight difference, it gets into their heads and they talk about it like nothing and no one else matters.

Now, curiosity is the biggest driver in this job that we have elected ourselves to pursue. Last Saturday, I decided to go see what’s been happening amongst Nigeria’s own MTV generation. Music Television or MTV is the cable music channel. It has some serious connection to young people established by music. Now, in our Nigeria, where government does not care so much for the individual, young Nigerians have found an outlet in a lot of socially-connected activities – music, sports, and movies. In spite of this self-help approach, however, those who should facilitate their activities in a way that government is helped to be more efficient use a lot of alternative outlet to express themselves – music, the art, acting, amongst others!

While it is clear that the MTV generation knows what it wants to do and is working to achieve this goal, nobody really gives a damn what becomes of it. And that’s really something dangerous! Those who claim to be brilliant and are in government must see the danger in just allowing young people totally disconnected from government and those who govern. Why is it that these brilliant people in government are not working hard enough to enable the environment for job creation and growth? The problem with the MTV generation here in Nigeria is that they think that things will suddenly change, one brilliant day. It will not.

The MTV generation is not channelling its talent and anger to a more brilliant approach to what we currently have. Young people hold the key to unlocking the various problems that we face in this country. But they must articulate themselves better; they must be multi-dimensional in their search for these solutions. Being multi-dimensional would mean that they go beyond music, beyond the arts, Nollywood, among others, and begin to look at the core essence of submitting yourself to people who think nothing of you but how the rest of us can see them as the brilliant egg-heads who can’t create jobs! The MTV generation must get up and get serious. Music is not enough! Nollywood is not enough! There is need for them to move to a higher level in a way that allows them to ingratiate and leave the different kinds of Nigerians empty and feeling really, really unsure! This particular generation should be better, surely!

 

PHILLIP ISAKPA