When the country turned 60 on the first of October this year 2020, there was a lot of jubilation and celebration globally, but underneath that, a sense of under-achievement could also be felt lingering therein too. A week after the country’s celebration which was highlighted as a landmark for change considering the number being celebrated (60), it would seem a novel turn would for the first time in our history be taken by the youth in view of their voices being recognised, relevant, heard and appreciated.
You see, Nigeria has always had this thing of underestimating its youth on many levels, we have had undermining situations where age has been used solely as a marker of respect within the country and that alone was a concern for many.
A country like Nigeria has its own portion of blessing and in this regard, we are blessed with a high percentage of individuals especially aged between sixteen and twenty-five running into tens of millions who are equipped with everything needed for a progressive country to invest in them and leverage-off their natural creative and intellectual abilities in view of betterment for the nation. So how are we falling short of this greatness one wonders?
Now it would seem, a new dawn has awakened the reality of what has been sleeping beneath our consciousness in view of what has been ignored for centuries by many of our elders, governments past and present, and even many of our parents, taking into consideration the number of children whose voices, abilities and visions have been completely ignored for decades well until now, one presumes.
While we face the obvious protests happening all around the country and abroad in sync at the moment, one is tempted to highlight the ills and horrific operations of the dreaded now-disbanded SARS as a major catalyst for these ongoing protests but objectively the focus must remain on the youth and their voices with regards to Why, How and When do we really start appreciating their value while looking for a new persona to define the Nigerian today.
We start with the WHY.
So why should we really be concerned with the unappreciated youth today? Well, we have to look at the current situation of things and then align it with where we have failed and look at angles where they can help us revive that failure in accordance with their own profound abilities and prowess.
The Nigerian youth is a very active youth, they a not lazy! they are not evil-minded and neither are they ill-equipped mentally to succeed beyond measures if anything they have simply just been respectful and docile to their elders which is an orientation that has served them well from a parental point of view, but sadly this has constantly being misused by many of our elders in view of mis-aligning the respect they give and perceiving it as weakness, and ignoring their fundamental concerns due to one silly excuse or another about age being a marker of wisdom and understanding.
This is something that is still being played out negatively within our society today and it breeds a level of under-appreciation, where you will find many elders quick to shut the youth voices up barely because they are older and seemingly wiser. Which on many occasions is a false narrative.
The question of why continues, why must we appreciate the youth? well, the recent events we are witnessing now highlights so many things we as a nation have taken for granted for decades, from lack of basic living amenities for them to succeed, to lack of power and even lack of basic education for many of them, which inevitably has led to an outcry for retrospective justice to be served in accordance to their needs, aspirations, and wholehearted desires.
What is a ten years old boy or girl doing selling snacks on the streets for starters in this present day and age? one digresses a bit.
The age group highlighted earlier (16 – 25) are in full alignment with the global technological information age we currently are in now, they grew up on the internet, use the internet, and are well vast on vocational studies found on the internet to enhance their peer engagements and their fortunes, so basically they are high powered individuals geared up mentally with the right information and data to succeed beyond imaginable measures, again something that can now be captured and harnessed based on their coordination, resilient and tenacity they have shown over the last week of protests, the data never lies and we can see the evidence full-on in the matrix.
So why must we continue to appreciate them? well, they are now clearly our leaders and our voices and our future, although this has always been the case it would seem that the long battle of denial and suppression has now been finally won by this recent development which is now being revealed to us, and we have a duty as a collective to be objective about it and look at the bright side of their leadership qualities as opposed to trying to find ways to curb their outcry and their enthusiasm for a better Nigeria.
Again like the old African saying goes, “ if they are no enemies within us, then the enemies outside of us can do us no harm”, thus we are forced to look deeply within ourselves and from within us find the understanding that the country is one, the youth are one and our future is one, the singularity here is that the youth are the future so it would be cynical of any Nigerian to think otherwise, politically or religiously in view of denying that single fact that our future is NOW HERE and speaking with a voice, one voice of reason, one voice of hope and one voice of courage one voice of strength found in our youth, and it is here to stay.
So how do we appreciate this? Well, this goes beyond Nigerians at home, it should involve a global reach to identify the Nigerian youth, showcase their quality, highlight their achievements, and above all amplify their hope in view of progress thus presenting a holistic view of the Nigerian youth and how best the nation can leverage off their high powered intellect prowess.
The global protests being held now across the world by the Nigerian youth is a clear indication that the long-awaited respect and appreciations are overdue, so looking at things subjectively, we now have, a duty yet again to amplify their cry, to lend a hand to their struggle, give advice to their emotional concerns (healing) and above all show empathy to their cause. Within the country, it is clear that many have been ignored for too long. They have seen grey skies, sadness, death, and friendship lost and taken from them by miscreants also Nigerians, this gave rise to hearts being cold, youth being bold and willing to use sticks and stones to fight their now enemies with guns. All the tricks being played out by our corrupt politicians are simply to cover up the funds for the youth’sfuture that some of them embezzled and or misused, so now the kids have broken the code, and are NOT confused at all about this reality, so it is clear that the years and levels of ignorance, abuse and neglect is what is more than likely leading to pockets of violence we are seeing from sections of our youth across the country who have expressed their built-up anger in undesirable ways not justified but somewhat understood if we factor in the years of abuse, negligence, and ill-appreciation shown to them by many generations of failed political leadership and law enforcement officers.
How we begin to respect and appreciate them is really quite simple, we should march with them, align with them and most importantly support them in their quest for a better Nigeria, a new kind of Nigeria, that enhances their desire to be seen as a new breed of Nigerians too, the ones armed with all it takes mentally, physically, professionally and courageously to succeed collectively beyond imaginable measures.
The HOW, would seem the most difficult task if anything because for decades the narrative has been “I am older than you and I know better”, and this has been embedded into our traditional culture and has proven to be wrong times over. The future is set and bright for those willing to unlearn old ways and relearn new ways, “agility” comes to mind from a point of view and the need to respond and adapt to this ongoing perceived change must be met with a profound belief in the prowess and talent of our youth being showcased now for the world to see.
Now, the question remains, HOW do we get the older generation to conform to this new way of reasoning? and the answer to this is quite simple, they must be willing to collaborate, align and indeed amplify the cry of the youth with empathy, passion, hope, and above all appreciation for them, something which we believe might just be a fundamental catalyst for the greatness that the country is positioned to achieve and craves.
The outcry now is that if these elders do not remove their stubborn hats and replace it with a cap woven with hope and vision for the Nigerian youth as they cry now, then we might be faced with a situation where disdain and a complete misalignment of a perceived vision of hope can be the order of the day for many months or even years to come. So indeed the time is now to align with the HOW, to make all ends meet and rekindle a new kind of Nigerian, principled on democracy, and creatively-aligned with a transformed mindset vision for the country based on continuous improvement.
The WHEN is a no-brainer, as it is clear to everyone alive today that Nigeria is due for a profound level of improvement, an improvement that does NOT require a nasty approach or a misaligned approach but one that sees the future for what it really is and identifies with the need to protect, support and encourage the future which is personified in the Nigeria Youth both at home and abroad in the diaspora.
To this, we give our all full support to the young men and women globally crying out for change, a change that would sincerely secure our country’s future and restore its honour and glory, especially from the bashing narratives.
It will be futile not to align or adhere to these cries of our amazing young Nigerians.
“Change is inevitable, but the growth and development of a people is a decision”.
God Bless Nigeria