Written by Tunde Eso, Osun Governorship Aspirant 2018.
It is no longer news that Nigerian youths agitate for their rights with some in various part of the country crying of being grossly marginalized, particularly by the older generation who form the bulk of the country's leaders. General Yakubu Gowon was Head of State at age 28 with several Ministers and Governors in his cabinet then being within the age bracket of 27 and 35.
Today those in similar age bracket are at best leaders of youth movements or militant groups like the Oodua People’s Congress, Egbesu boys, Boko Haram, Arewa Consultative Forum, Bakassi boys, Ijaw youths etc. Those who are lucky among them could become political aides or Special Adviser on this or that to political office holders. A few exceptions to the rule are those extremely lucky to emerge as Chief Executives or Directors of organizations as a result of pure luck or a sprinkle of godfatherism.
The youth of this generation must be awake from their age-old slumber .We need to take a cue from people like the former envoy of Nigeria to the United Kingdom, M.T.Mbu attained the position at 23years of age. At 30, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr.Nnamdi Azikiwe and Ladoke Akintola were already leaders of their respective region.
The likes of Olusegun Obasanjo, Murtala Mohammed, and Yakubu Gowon were Heads of State in their 30s.Bola Ige, Lateef Jakande and others were not exception to the trajectory. The late Abraham Adesanya who died at 85 was already in the Western State Parliament in his 30s, having painstakingly studied the tempers of his generation. It was the norm then to attain one’s peak in either public and private businesses or endeavours before the age 40.
I had pondered several times what was responsible for our generational failure or how the older generation was able to utilize the opportunities available to them in achieving distinct feats. I concluded that the environment that nurtured their achievements was made inaccessible to the younger generation.
How, one may be tempted to ask? Well, it is because the immediate car loan, automatic housing, scholarship opportunities which were usually available after graduation were now things of the past.
A critical perusal of the former head of state, retired General Ibrahim Babangida, late General Sani Abacha, former Nigeria head of state, Abudulsalami Abubakar and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration would reveal gerontocracy. It often pains me to bone marrows when this generation laments that it was the older generation that debar them from climbing the leadership ladder to the zenith. Really, it is apt to conclude that way as I also submitted at the beginning of my discourse, but we ought not hang on to that because we have been largely apolitical.
It is imperative for us to note that people like; the former deputy governor of Lagos state, Mr. Femi Pedro, former Governor of Ogun state, Otunba Gbenga Daniels, the Governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose; Multi-billionaire industrialist, Jimoh Ibrahim, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Soludo, former Governor of Ekiti state, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and seasoned businessman, Chief Mike Adenuga and Aliko Dangote etc were part of our generation. Some of these people struggled all by themselves to be what they are today.
Conversely, coming generation scares me, because while we have been busy talking about Nigeria of today, I wonder if we have spared a thought about how this country will be in the next twenty-five years.
On October 1, 1979, when Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was sworn-in as president; former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan was just a 22 year-old undergraduate of University of Port-Harcourt. Shagari was 54 years old. Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti was 19 years old. Current President of the Senate Bukola Saraki was 17. Vice President Yemi Osibajo was 22. The generation of likes of Shagari, Richard Akinjide, Adisa Akinloye, Sabo Barkin Zuwo, Ifeanyi Nwobodo, Ume Ezeoke, Akin Omoboriowo, Olusola Saraki, Sunday Awoniyi, Garba Nadama, Awal Ibrahim and so on has gone for good! Some of us in our late 40, early 40s and 50s now when in school, either in the university or secondary school, had lofty dreams and vision both personal and societal. We were always motivated by nationalists and inventors who had impacted positively on the cause of humanity. We were voracious readers of novels and other books. Nelkon for our Ordinary Level Physics, Lambert for Chemistry, B.O Adeleke and Goh Cheng Leong for our Geography, Phebean Ogundipe for Practical English, Late Prof. Chinua Achebe and Prof. Wole Soyinka for Literature and others like that. We were always flaunting our knowledge of current affairs. Inter-school quiz, literary and debating competition were the order of the day then. Nowadays, students can hardly string a sentence together in English without errors.
Fast forward 35 years on and you are shocked and disturbed. Have you ever spoken to or engaged a 20 year-old boy? Ask him what motivates him and he is likely to mention music, hip-hop to be precise. He has hundreds of downloaded songs on his phone. He can sing all of them off hand. He knows all the singles of Davido, Fruzside, 9ice, Olamide, Neato C, Timaya, Whiz Kid, Korede Bello off had. The babes among them take pride in enticing men old enough to be their father on social media with buxomly physique.
But he or she does not know anything about history of nationalism in the country. Ideas about good society, responsible family and good conduct do not motivate him. He just wants to make money because his friend who does yahoo is rich and rides a good car, her friend who has numerous‘aristos’ drives a SUV! The things that interest him/her are things that do not add value. S/he has Google but never uses it for advancement of knowledge but to download porn and other inanities.
Yet, in twenty years’ time, they are the ones that will be contesting to become governors, senators, House of Representative members and even president. They belong to a generation that does not care about morality.
They belong to a generation that is motivated only by money and its acquisition. By 2035 to 2040, they will be our senators, Reps, governors and so on. I wonder if we have ever spared a thought for how this country will look like under them.
This is a generation that young once prefer to acquire mobile telephone, buy expensive clothes and shoes and throw a birthday party at the most expensive hotel than purchasing a GCE and JAMB form that will shape their future.
For instance, in my 20s, I could remember I used the money meant to purchase medicine to cure my illness to buy the book titled Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I will travel from Lagos to visit my late uncle Justice Kayode Eso at Ibadan so I can read in his library, was rigorously in search for knowledge.But you ask a youth of 18-30 nowadays, that do you have a vision or dream, s/he replies with what is my own with that and I can’t imagine a 30 years old graduate not to have read the following motivational books; think and grow rich, tough times never last, but tough people do by Robert Schaller and power of positive thinking by Norman Vincent. Yet they are willing to lead the country in 20-30 years to come.
Over the next two years, the number of Nigerian millionaires will jump by 47% but most likely you will not be among because you are too busy whining and complaining. And yet about 60% of Nigeria’s 170m population are below 35 years. By the way, Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he started Facebook.
Africa’s youngest billionaire, Ashish Thakkar, is 31. He escaped from the Rwandan genocide and relocated to Uganda where he started an IT business.
Collin Thornton, who made his millions by fixing bad computers and setting up Dial-a-Nerd, is 35.
Adam Horowitz, an 18-year-old entrepreneur, started 30 websites in 3 years before he became successful.
The only thing you have ever started is an online petition. Have you heard of Jason Njoku? He’s 33 and the founder of Iroko TV. He received $8m investment into his company just a few years ago. What he does? Sharing the same Nollywood films that you spend hours to watch online. He didn’t just hang around waiting for Buhari to make something happen or blaming Jonathan for not making anything happen.
Kamal Budhabhatti was deported from Kenya but while on the flight, he thought of the opportunities in Kenya. He found his way back after 6 months and today his company is valued at $30m. He’s 36.
Have you heard of Chinedu Echeruo? Apple just paid $1b for his app. He’s a Nigerian like you and all he did was attempt to fix a problem. But for you, the only thing you attempt to fix are your nails- and your hairdo! Chinedu moved to New York in 1995 and found it difficult to navigate the city with ease so he developed HopStop to fix the problem.
Stop listing all the problems - we know them already but what are you doing about them?
You are in your 40s and you still sag your trousers and found pleasure in fraudulence acts, yet you hope to lead your generation.
I am worried, deeply worried. Are you? Meanwhile, I urge my compatriots to project beyond limitations to erode their apathy to political activities and meander out of the cocoons they hibernating at the moment.
Tunde Eso is a Political Scientist and Osun 2018 Governorship Aspirant.