But from the beginning, it was not so…
In the year 1960, all eyes were upon Nigeria – the most populous nation of Blacks in the world. Nigeria – which seemed to churn out high-flyers in education, business, leadership, etc. – just got her independence! In Africa, only Ghana rivalled Nigeria in leadership but after Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah was deposed in a coup, the gaze of the world shifted to Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, etc. Considering the encompassing growth of Nigeria, it was unwise not to be her ally.
It is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.Richard Whately
Very quickly, Nigeria lost her glory due to the succession of failed administrations, the military misadventure up to 1993, the annulment of the 1993 presidential elections, the structural adjustment programme that destroyed the local economy, endemic corruption in the nation, ceaseless looting of the national treasury, lack of public accountability, overdependence on oil revenue, religious and ethnic bigotry, insecurity, amongst others! Unfortunately, Nigeria, the giant of Africa, became the world’s poverty capital. Till date, the nation has not been able to recover.
And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”Esther 4:13-14
Over time, attempts have been made to solve the foundational issues of the nation. Yet, most have failed grossly. In October 2020, 60 years after Nigeria’s independence, the war for the soul of Nigeria intensified such that the “lazy Nigerian youths” who never bothered to vote for good leaders arose to fight police brutality on a grand scale. You need to google how organized and productive these protests – #EndSARS protests – were. The crazy thing is that these protests had no apparent leaders!
I didn’t go to OAU to be on the wrong side of history. It can’t happen.Fatimah Oyelami
Fast forward…On Friday, 20th October 2020, while Nigerian youths gathered for the #EndSARS protests, many of them were massacred at Lekki toll gate, Lagos, by Nigerian soldiers on assignment. It is appalling that these youths were killed for the very cause that they were protesting against – police brutality! Although the massacre of these youths was streamed by certain courageous patriots and watched by millions of Nigerians, till date, no one has confessed to giving the order to kill the peaceful protesters. In fact, the Nigerian President has never mentioned this in public.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.Margaret Mead
A few days ago, an acquaintance gave me a historical account of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. He explained that when baby Jesus was born, it was prophesied that Jesus of Nazareth would become the king of the Jews. When the king in power heard of it, he ordered the massacre of all male babies within the age range of the baby Jesus. However, the biological parents of the baby Jesus received intel about the plan of the king and escaped. My acquaintance believes that history repeated itself in Nigeria. In order to kill the saviour king, all who were in the age range of the saviour king were massacred. Selah.
Sorosoke to Japa
Well, the protests were hijacked by thugs. Curfews were declared all over the nation. Families wailed for the loss of their beloved. The President addressed the nation some days after the massacre, however, he did not expressly address the Lekki massacre. Like a wave, after the Presidential address, the generation which mustered themselves and chanted “Sorosoke” (Speak out loud) began to chant “Japa” (Disappear). Each man feared for his life, and jokes about traveling out of Nigeria to Canada began to trend.
We cannot afford to keep sinful silence when the youth of our nation are being oppressed by a Nigerian state that is supposed to protect them.Tunde Bakare
Furthermore, a number of peaceful protesters were incarcerated during and after the #EndSARS protests. Also, the bank accounts of people who supposedly sponsored the protests were frozen. Recently, deliberations about the restrictions of the use of social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have been ongoing. This stems from the supposed spread of false information by Nigerian youths about governance, police brutality and the Lekki massacre to other nations and continental unions in the world.
Engagement is the breeding ground for idea fermentation.Kehinde Sogunle (Paraphrased)
Social media has proven to be the most potent tool for citizen engagement in the 21st century. With this tool, people of various cadres express themselves freely. Apparently, government officials cannot hide from the public comments of the common man. Although this tool has its flaws, no great nation is built without conversations – heated ones. In fact, the better place to find solutions is on the negotiation table not the streets.
Over the course of various interactions, I have outlined eight segments of our national life that I describe as constituting Nigeria’s political power blocs…namely: The council of state and the thirty-six state governors; retired generals; traditional institutions; political dynasties; the private sector (including the media); religious leaders; the Nigerian Labour Congress/Trade Union Congress; and foreign partners. My position has been that any individual or group that seeks to be reckoned with politically in Nigeria must not take any of these for granted. I would like to state, at this juncture, that there is a ninth power bloc that must not be taken for granted; it is the Nigerian youth with the power of social media.Tunde Bakare
As opposed to the steps which the government are attempting to make towards infringing the basic human right to freedom of expression, measures could be taken to curtail its abuse, such as the provision of incentives for appropriate dissemination of information such that it discourages dishonourable use. Youths can also spearhead productive conversations on a grand scale – with local and international civil society organizations – and collaborate with social media platforms to flag dangerous content.
The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.Benjamin Disraeli
Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.Job 14:7-9
Alas, our time has come, and nothing can stop a nation whose time has come.
Quickly and thoroughly, Nigeria must restructure her administrative systems. Our problems began with autocratic leadership, succession of failed governments and ill-suited administrative systems. The rot began from the head and spread to the entire body. Nigeria needs to create administrative systems where her fundamental values determine her laws. The local, state and federal administrative setups must be structured such that no man (including the president) is above the law.
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.Ecclesiastes 8:11
Unfortunately, autonomy has not been given to our law enforcement agencies. Anyone who exposes the bitter truth suddenly disappears. If bad leaders can be exposed by the press, arraigned by the police and incarcerated promptly, excesses will be curbed. Scapegoats should be made of those who engage in corrupt acts in the pursuit of power.
Prospective leaders should be put forward on the basis of track-records and merit not popularity. The men with the best hearts and minds – not location – should be given the chance to lead. This rotational leadership thing is good but inefficient.
As deep-rooted as our problems are, our freedom will begin with conversations and negotiations among the best and brightest. This is why we must allow for freedom of expression. It is in the heat of engagements that golden ideas are fermented. This is how we find the best. Hence, the inability to air our views will only keep us in bondage.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.Martin Luther King Jr.
Let’s focus on the people now. Yes, it is true that most of us sell our votes in the agony of poverty. However, like Esau, we sell our birthrights for a meal, and suffer for years…
Note that there will be an attempt through hidden wisdoms to bring banished ones back. Political figures who have been rejected will be attempted to be forced on the people again through subtle means. They will be reintroduced in a way that it would seem as though we have no choice but to accept them. If we accept them back, days of uncertainty are upon us.Kuti Olusola
The people must be willing to vote and vote wisely! Voter education – especially for the unlearned – is one of the most strategic steps we can take towards the new Nigeria. We must be made to understand that when we do not vote, we are part of the problem, and when we choose one of two devils, we have collaborated with murderers.
Now, if it is wisdom we seek, the youths must be careful not to despise the tutelage of the elders. Leadership is a continuum and wisdom is deep. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Ironically, our youths must be groomed by wise elders for sustainable development. We cannot make progress without the input of the aged.
The #EndSARS protests have proven that there is a time for aluta and another for negotiations at the table. The impact of men like Sam Adeyemi upon the forward-thinking youths of the nation evince the need for tutelage in the matters of Nigeria’s destiny. LEAD Resources runs a programme called Mainstream Successor Generation which provides mentorship and support for grassroot organizers, potential executive council leaders, potential legislators, policy makers, party functionaries, etc. Now that 2023 elections are loading, we must be intentional about training and creating our options. We must also be willing to use our bullets – our votes – to choose the best!
Nigeria and Nigerians will be known all over the world for corruption. Your name – Nigeria – will stink of corruption but after a while, a new phase will come – a phase of righteousness. People from the nations of the earth will hold a Nigerian and say, “We want to follow you to your nation to go and learn righteousness.”Pa Elton, 1986
What is the New Nigeria? The New Nigeria is:
- A Nigeria where life is sacred.
- A Nigeria where the streets are safe.
- A Nigeria where no one is marginalized.
- A Nigeria where no one goes to bed hungry.
- A Nigeria where each man is his brothers’ keeper.
- A Nigeria where there is quality health care for all.
- A Nigeria where there is uninterrupted power supply.
- A Nigeria where every child can access quality education.
- A Nigeria where every youth is employed or self-employed.
- A Nigeria where innovative ideas are fermented and birthed.
- A Nigeria where our leaders are chosen wisely and votes count.
- A Nigeria that is exalted by righteousness according to God’s will.
The dreams of the new Nigeria are the realities of other nations made up of humans just like us. If we can keep hope alive and infiltrate the source of our rot – poor leadership – we will get there. Dubai did it. Ghana did it. We can do it. We must do it!
The Youth of a Nation are the Trustees of Posterity by Dr. Tunde Bakare
Nigeria is Still Struggling at 60 but Hope is Still Alive by Prof. Sheff Folarin
The Only Way Forward for Nigeria by Dr. M. M. Wokili
Tomiwa Babajide is an Associate Solutions Architect at LEAD Resources, a charismatic administrator, an SDGs advocate, a creative writer and a graduate of Microbiology. She is adept in transdisciplinarity, novel and adaptive thinking and virtual collaboration. She is zealous to provide real-time solutions to challenges in the polity. She loves to eat crackers and drink yoghurt, and she can pray and go on road-trips for Africa.