By Seun Awogbenle.
When Nigeria’s founding fathers fought valiantly for our independence, their hope was that someday this nation will become a sovereign nation that is united, strong, vibrant, peaceful and economically stable enough to lead Africa’s greatness and renaissance. Sadly, 60 years after, I am not sure our present reality as a country is in tandem with that aspiration, dream and expectation, matter of factly we have only become a sharp contrast to that projection.
Despite what President Buhari touted as the abundant wealth inherent in our human capital and the richness of our land, quite ironically what we have is poverty, hunger, destitution, hardship and despair. Almost everywhere you turn, more than half of Nigerians are either struggling to eke out a living or have been condemned to the fight for survival.
There is something fundamentally wrong and incongruent, when more than half of your population are merely striving to survive, it is a distortion and indication that what you have is a deeply unjust system that is lopsided in every ramification. Nigerians should live for much more than survival, they should live for opportunities, potential, hope and aspiration, every Nigerian should have a fair chance at opportunities to thrive, particularly young people who represent more than one-third of our population.
At independence, Nigeria represented Africa’s hope of glory to come, nothing today suggests that Nigeria is carrying on with that weight of expectation. Like Chinua Achebe, I reckon that the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. Nigeria has failed to provide the leadership that can transform its potential for economic growth, opportunity and competitiveness.
What we have today is an old and tired leadership that is in dire need of fresh and new ideas, and Nigeria’s young population who are the victims of the spectacular failure of leadership should be the pushback generation that reclaim this country and say enough is enough. Our country is in desperate need of saving, liberation and transformation, young people cannot continue to play the onlooking game, they must take responsibility for the situation of the country and work together to lay the foundation for a brighter future.
Estimated at over 60 million people, Nigerian youths represent more than one third of the country’s population, if we leverage our demographic advantage, we can unseat the old political order and entrench new democratic ideals. Vision is the purview of youths, as Nigeria looks forward to the years ahead, only a renewed leadership driven by young people can redirect this sinking ship of state.
I find it very difficult to understand when young people say I am not interested in politics, political leadership or even hold a political opinion, my constant retort had always been, can you really afford not to be interested? Politics has a direct influence on our lives, the quality of political leadership determines the outcome of our lives. It is what determines if we all get access to basic healthcare, quality education, decent wages, pay fair taxes or even get a fair chance at equal opportunities.
It is time to say enough of failed promises, deceit and lies. The present political configuration is not working, it is time to evolve a new political order, it is time for Nigerian youths to stand to be counted, this is our generation’s Nigeria to change!
There is strength in numbers, Nigerian youths have the numbers to cause real change and progress, it is time to organize, mobilize and rally ourselves for progress. We can be the generation that ends poverty, hunger, hardship, injustice, corruption, failed leadership, modern day slavery, failed promises, recycled leadership!
We need leaders and not rulers, Nigeria can no longer serve the interest of only a selected few, it must serve the interest of everyone particularly its young people. It is the reason Nigerian youths can not give up on this country, if we give up on Nigeria, we give up on our destiny, future and patrimony. Nigerian youths must now become the avatar of a better Nigeria and pioneer a new political order.
At 60, Nigeria has come of age, it is time to say arise O’ sleeping giant, but only young people can lead that greatness!
*Awogbenle, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.
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