Ejikeme Alozie-Nwagboso is an advocate for youth participation in government. He penned this open letter to young Nigerians.
My fellow Youngs:
When I think about the difficulties young Nigerians face in their everyday lives, I just imagine how much they cope with everyday pressure of surviving in a nation punished by corruption, where work is scarce and many that work do so with low pay. It must be an unbearable pressure. When you compare the rate of job offers today to decades ago, there is a clear difference. Then, they were practically pursued around for jobs. Today, it is no more the same. Time has changed. The world has moved on led by goal getters. We must catch up with the rest of the world immediately.
It certainly will take many years of hard work, coordinated efforts to be able to fix the problems we face today as a people. A nation with a good number of intelligent youth scattered across the country cannot be lacking in government circles. We have been taken over by silliness, laziness, lack of thinking, pettiness, ripping ourselves apart on Social media that we have forgotten entirely that we are wasting our today. If we want a better tomorrow, we must in Don Jazzy’s words “Come and get it”. It is as simple as that. Today is critical for us. We must come together and think through the realities of today and how to secure the future for our children.
Many Nigerians, especially the old, do not expect as much from the youth today when compared to generations past. Why? This is a key question the young people must answer for themselves. As for me, they have led us into a ditch, and expect us to stay in the ditch till the farthest future. This will not happen, if we pull together. We must emancipate ourselves and throw away the chains of backwardness. Let me tell my fellow young people one thing: The world is becoming more bewildering, very small things are certain, and the tempo is really quicker. We can only survive in such a world if we become more ready to adapt to the quick tempo of a changing world. This involves tact, seriousness, focus, hard work and innovation. If you blink, you will find yourself way behind. We have to start forcing a tremendous shift in the balance of power in Nigeria if we stand a chance of not still swimming in the 19th century while the world is in the 21st century. We are losing our strength at a very rapid pace. We should be looking around for people with ideas. We need to have fast thinking fellas who react quickly to the constant changes facing the world. And, the young people are the ones to quickly salvage our country and set our nation towards a lofty pedestal. Our fathers faced their own challenges, dealt with them, and responded the best way they could. It is our turn today, and we must stand up to be counted.
A political leader in my constituency recently asked me: “Why can’t you wait, you still have many years ahead to contest elections?” Without wasting time, I fired back: Because, it is 2016. Not 1990 anymore. At 33years I see no reason why a “yesterday” person will be leading me into “tomorrow” and skipping “today” entirely. If it is a math, it will be a fail. Today must be in the equation to be acceptable. Few weeks back, I had a discussion with Titus Pierce, a 33year old candidate for NJ USA governor in 2017, and he said to me – “Young leaders must be in influential positions. E.J we can do this.” I quickly digested this in a “Nigeria situation” manner. We must help ourselves get into influential positions. The country as is today needs innovative leadership. Not the kind of leadership where we are aspiring to produce Pencil in 2017. Dr. Chukwuma Innoson, a private individual is manufacturing cars, and our government is setting a target of Pencil production. Unbelievable. Tell me any young person that will set such a target if he/she was in such a position? Pencil? In 2017?
Today, at the very height of the world’s global problems and hope, you find the young people. What does this mean? We can be agents of positive change or the opposite. I do believe we must work with ourselves, invest in ourselves collectively and work towards a bright future. A future defined by peace and progress regardless of our political affiliations. We have to put ourselves in influential positions by adding value to ourselves and showing a united front. I was greatly excited that the youth forcefully exposed the Budget riddled with errors in a united manner. There were few exceptions though. This is exactly what the power of the people mean. If 100 thousand youths on twitter Tweet at @mbuhari and his aides about appointing young fellas into his government, you think the President will not turn a head? Then, another 100 thousand retweets to same handle. I bet you, we will have a good number of young people being appointed into good positions. Even if he turns no head at our aspirations, we can still forge a united front on our own. If you do not make a case for yourself, nobody will. You will end up being a Rottweiler on Twitter – Bark Bark Bark, and still go to bed with no electricity.
God bless us all.