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Nigeria at 60: The question of the youth

GROWING up in Nigeria has been an adventure, to say the least. It has been an array of events; myriad of experiences that have culminated in the idea of what the nation Nigeria is.
As a young boy, living in an obscure location, in Lagos, I was told different heroic stories about Nigeria, and I grew up with the self-image of being a citizen of Africa’s pride; its backbone and veritable giant.
I remember being told various laudable narratives about the fight for our independence by nationalists like Nnamdi Azikwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Herbert Macaulay, Ahmadu Bello amongst others, whose bloods, literal and figurative, were spilt on the altar of Nigeria’s freedom. These narratives were the armoury through which I wielded my pride as a citizen of Nigeria. Sadly, one cannot carry on with such boast, as Nigeria, known through the stories handed down to me as a young boy, is in utter disparity with the one that now parades herself as a nation.
At the moment, the reality is upon us. Nigeria, the great giant, looked upon by many, is on her 60th anniversary as an independent nation. Celebrations will definitely ensue as an orthodox act, but in verisimilitude, is it worth the jubilation? Should it not be a moment of sober reflections; of regrets about the consistent reality of failure? Would it not be more productive if we reflect on how failed leadership has become our major albatross? Nigeria, in all sincerity, deserves no cake-cutting, especially for an age as prestigious as 60. It is lugubrious to say, but Nigeria at 60 portends no tangible future. What hope is left in a nation fast approaching her frail age and those who pilot her are in their frail ages themselves.
As a youth, I have grown to witness the deterioration of our beloved nation. For instance, the declining condition of a germane system such as education graphically animates a failed present and the fearful future of Nigeria. The educational sector, like governance, has been politicised, while the young ones who are to find hope in education have become pawns to the game.
Why should there be a cake-cutting for our nation when security is an eyesore? Rather than pride in being one of the safest, most secured African countries, we are adorned with the regalia of “3rd Most Terrorized Nation,” according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI). The menace of Boko Haram, Cattle Herders and the tragedy in Kaduna State provide testaments to the fact that our award is well deserving.

A NATION that is incapable of securing the future of her youth is on the brink of extinction. The rapid increase in unemployment rates is a shame to the government. It is analogous to a mother, who at 60 cannot boast of having secured a tangible future for her children. The Nigerian condition and her youth is akin to a mother hen who fails in her responsibility of guiding and guarding her chick. Unfortunately, they would have to run for their lives at the sight of a hawk. For Nigerian youths, the hawks we see are unemployment, insecurity and failed educational system. What then is worth celebrating when our lot as a nation is brain-drain rather than brain-gain? The youth resorts to individual survivalism because the country has failed to guarantee a safe future for the next generation.
Doubtless, the future is bleak; however, one would have to find hope in a seemingly negative reality. Which begs the question, what then should we make of Nigeria at 60? This question goes to leaders and citizens, respectively. It is yet another moment to resort to history, but this time as a teacher. It is time to reflect on the Nigeria that patriotic citizens saw and desired to fight to actualise. What Nigeria did Bola Ige envision, Wole Soyinka, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Gani Fawehinmi, Ken Saro Wiwa amongst the coterie of visionaries? It is this Nigeria that we have to reflect.

NIGERIAN youths are resilient and hardworking. Many, who have given up on finding solace in Nigeria have gone ahead to create a niche for themselves. Our leaders, who are older than Nigeria herself, claim the youths are lazy. The critical questions to ask are: what practical job opportunities have been presented by the government? How productive has N-power been in the pursuit of youth empowerment? These are instructive questions that should be answered by our leaders.
The future of Nigeria for the youth is currently hazy, but we should not dash our hope. Instead of a Nigeria @60 with cake-cutting and fireworks, what we need is time for strategies, renewed vigour and commitment towards a better nation. Nigeria @60 should be a day of nationwide sobriety for both leaders and citizens. We ought to rethink the existence and progress of Nigeria as a nation.
Nigerian youths are resilient, but the reality is that Nigeria is at the moment inhabitable for a youth with a sense of direction, focus and passion. However, if we go back to the drawing board of true nationalistic and progress-driven endeavours, perhaps the next years will testify great things. Just perhaps.

Wright, a doctoral candidate at the University of Lagos, is on the Editorial Advisory Board on Naija Times.

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