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Adaobi Oni-Egboma: The Future Nigeria Didn’t Envision

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dreamstime_m_10493451The current situation with the Nigerian economy is beyond disturbing; arguably there has never been a better time to be more passionate about Nigeria than now. Nowadays, many Nigerians are struggling to maintain the most basic of lifestyles and it has become apparent that this free fall is not on a road to decline anytime in the near future. It is indeed difficult to reconcile how such a glorious nation with tremendous prospects is currently basking in a recession. It is time for the youth to not sit back and fold our hands, all because our leaders have failed to have any real sense of direction. The current exchange rates coupled with the increased brain drain are two significant problems that have struck a cord and formed the premise of this article. My purpose is not to highlight our numerous shortcomings as a nation, but rather to beckon on the Nigerian youth to observe history and begin to think of new ways in which we can propel this country in the right direction.

The great writer Chinua Achebe could not have phrased it any better when he said “Nigeria is what it is today because of what its leaders are not”. One needs to realise that the gradual erosion of the economy was not something that happened overnight, but rather was as a result of systematic actions that have been taken by the country’s leaders.
Nigeria is a country with some of the best brains in the world and yet we are plagued with one of the most uncertain economies in Africa. The current exchange rate has gone up by over The question many people ask is when will things eventually get better? Would it be in a few months, a year or even 5 years? The truth is that no one can truly ascertain when this will happen. Nonetheless, it is paramount that the youth begin to develop a genuine passion for Nigeria in order for us to salvage what is left of this great nation. Many of us lack any genuine passion for our country, we have become unbothered to the point that it seems we are merely occupying space in another mans land and that really should not be the case.

As an international student in the UK, I fully understand the detrimental effects of the country’s current exchange rate. Over the course of the year, I have seen several students stop mid degrees, start up go-fund me accounts or delay a Masters degree because their parents never envisioned such a high rate. Not to mention that with every breaking news in relation to the economic recession there is little incentive for those who studied abroad to come back, I mean why return to your country after millions of Naira have been pumped into your education only to live a mediocre life.

If the brain drain continues to steadily increase with some of the most intelligent and talented minds choosing to work outside the country, how can any substantial change be effected? I have to come conclusion that the only way forward for this country is enlightenment. There can be no real change if there is no understanding of the problems, and this starts with encouraging the youth who are indeed the leaders of tomorrow to become passionate about their country. They need to learn about history and educate themselves on the foundational principles that form the basis of this great nation. We need to break past this non-obligatory attitude that has been developed by the mindset that nothing can be done. I am of the opinion that you cannot truly be passionate about your country if you do not understand it in its entirety. This is why I am a strong advocate for West African history to be made a predominant part of every school’s curriculum.

I remember back in Secondary School I was one out of 9 student who wrote history (History of Africa) for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams. I remember the struggle it was to teach the subject, as history books weren’t easily accessible. This is even a more preferable situation than in some schools where the subject is not even considered as an option. I liken one not knowing their history to children that belong to a family but yet know nothing about their parents. The drive and passion cannot be manufactured, rather it has to be gradually developed.

Arguably even youths that have taken interest in the Nigerian politics do not portray it in a positive light, but rather focus on the inactions of our leaders. There is no point condemning the nation if you cannot proffer proper solutions to help the situation. Even though all the mistakes of the past cannot be corrected they can be prevented from reoccurring. The youth of today have a lot to offer with social media increasingly at every one’s disposal, we can indeed be part of the new generation to portray this country in a positive light and use our voices for good.

It is indeed a shame to merely standby and watch such a great country rot into nothingness, because everyone is “fed up” with the situation. Day by day, individual conversations are increasingly growing about how the best alternative might be migration to other countries until things become better. There are nay sayers who have written off the country’s situation as useless and utterly irremediable. I believe that this is not the time to have a pessimistic attitude. It is imperative, now that more than ever, that we are optimistic that things will change. This can only happen if we can restructure our minds. I do believe that the mindset can change but it all starts with the decision to not want to settle for the current situation.

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Adaobi Oni-Egboma is a 21-year-old female from Delta State who grew up in Lagos Nigeria. She has a Bachelor of Laws Degree (Hons) from the University of Leicester and is currently studying African Development (Msc) at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a passionate advocate for good governance, who believes strongly in youth empowerment and engagement as a tool for reshaping the Nigerian narrative. She is currently working on her Nigeria rediscovered series of articles that will focus on appreciating the Nigerian culture and its history.

23 Comments

  1. Perps

    October 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Whaooo… your bio is impressive

  2. nene

    October 4, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Nigerian youths are all about flamboyance. And i think a huge reason is because African and Nigerian History is not compulsory in schools. It should be made compulsory. This country is in a big mess.

  3. mz_danielz

    October 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    When you have a problem eh, everybody will be using your problem to practice philosophy.

    Aunty Ada, please ayam not understanding. Are you saying a study of our history is the solution to our problems? cos if you are I do not agree with you at all. While I agree kids need to learn their history, it is not the solution to our problem at all but actually an after effect of our problem. Bad socio-economic and political climate- loss of national pride – no need to study history. You now see the cycle I’m sure.

    • Adaobi Obi-Egboma

      October 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      It’s not a solution but a step towards the solution. If we are talking about the youth being the leaders of tomorrow they have to be equipped with the right tools and in order for this to happen they have to learn from history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

    • Lacey

      October 5, 2016 at 5:05 am

      Thank you so much Ada for this excellent piece ! A breath of fresh air! I have bought my ticket and I moving back to Nigeria! God bless you! After listening to Peter Obi’s speech! I made up my mind, after attending the best schools globally, he moved back to Anambra State to make a difference !

    • Lovetone

      October 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

      Hi mz_danielz, I believe in the points of Ada because when you want to make a change, there is the need to find out how things went wrong to know what changes need to be made and what not to repeat in the future. Example, if you are made the governor of your state, for you to make a difference, you need to have an idea of policies that were made but didn’t work and why they didn’t work for you to make better policies that would work.

      Therefore, yes, we need to go back to history. Thanks.

  4. Southernermost

    October 4, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    BLAMe The hausas! I say

  5. Liz

    October 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Nice Article. I however can’t say I totally agree with the brain drain issue. While its true that many Nigerians choose to work abroad, a large number have also chosen to return home, sometimes even leaving high paying jobs to become entrepreneurs in Nigeria. That’s why the acronynm “IJGB” (I just got back) is becoming very popular. Just my opinion tho.

  6. Aseey15

    October 4, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    Nice one! @Adaobi. We all need to be optimistic and think of how well we can contribute to the development of this great nation. They greater opportunities are out there in the market not in government. Real development can only be achieved by coordination of good brains, efficient policies and effective human capital.

  7. Weezy

    October 4, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I don’t think the youths are the problem.. Nigeria’s current leadership is the problem. There is this myth that if we just focus on the youth, as they are the leaders of tomorrow, things will be better. Yet by the time the youth become leaders, they have either learned the behavior and mindset of the adults that came before them, or they have grown cynical, or they have left the country.

    While we are busy teaching the youth, our current leaders are busy misgoverning. Here’s an idea – we should target people in their late 20s to late 40s. Those are the members of the population that most want stability, good governance and progress, and those are the members of the population that may be more intelligent about voting. That is the generation that is both educated and financially okay. Those are the members of the population that are really on the cusp of being in charge. In western nations, people become governors and senators in their 40s. In Nigeria, it happens a decade later (50s). In western nations, it makes sense to be worrying about the young people in their 20s. In Nigeria, we should be worrying about the “young-at-heart”, 30s to 40s.

  8. Frosh

    October 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    We dont know who we are as a people, that’s why its so hard to solve our problems, our problems start from our core not from what we see right now, Thats why its hard for us to create, we have no super heros, no cartoons, no national heores WE CELEBRATE!, nothing to identify to or define ourselves with… the reason we hate each other, tear each other down and identify more with our tribes than with the nation as a whole is because we have no national identity…. who are we as Nigerians?…an unknown undiscovered uncharted mass of people who dont know why we are banded together in the first place

    • EE

      October 4, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Ehm Shegs Okoro and the Supa Strikas? Mas Muda? Gandoki? Edet and Simbi?? Eze the school goer? Don’t know about super heroes, do the Indians have them???, the Chinese???, hell the British don’t, I think. Aren’t superheroes a distinctly American phenomenon?

      As for national heroes, ehm Jay Jay? Kanu?

      We could do better of course, but you’re being way way too pessimistic, even for me.

  9. EE

    October 4, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Que sera, sera.

    Most of the factors driving our recession are outside actual Nigerian control and even farther from the hand of the Nigerian youth. Despite that, “we” are not standing by and watching the nation rot.

    Outside the cesspool of Nigerian twitter, in real Nigeria, our fellow citizens have tightened their belts and are powering through, the construction workers still show up, the market women make due. With sacrifice, they’re surviving, “shuffering and smiling”, as the dude said.

    But in other news, the World bank refuses to loan us the cash we need for our stimulus, crude is back to 48, our ogas at the top are still creating loopholes for their paddies and calling it monetary policy. No amount of optimism by the average Nigerian changes this.

    But anyways, all you emigres, how far una remittance nah, in our kindness we’re offering una $1-N500, but still no significant boost. Y’all have forgotten the Lord loving a cheerful giver shebi? Please let’s aim to topple those Filipinos in the remittance charts.

  10. .........passing by

    October 4, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I think all she’s trying to say is while we currently find other ways to fix our current economic situation, educating the younger people is esssential to avoid a repeat of what is happening now and what has happened in the past. When you understand how hard people have suffered and fought to preserve something or to take something to the level where it is now, you feel a personal connection and as a result a lot more concern and the need to actually do something about the situation rather than the non-chalant attitude we see with a lot of people our age.

  11. anonymous today

    October 4, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to a historical writer/contributor on BN. so i’d be on the look out for your articles and perspectives.

    Brain drain is not a recent issue in Nigeria. Our father’s did it and our children are likely to do it. Though most of our father’s returned. Spiralling exchange rate is not a new issue either. There were instances when it jumped. So how does historical perspective help us?
    The type of history i’d like to to learn is how individuals/groups organised themselves and became heroes. I want to celebrate our heroes. We need our heroic stories to inspire us. If you choose this path, you have plenty work to do and I don’t envy you at all. lol, hope to sponge off information from you.

    Btw, did you grow up on the 9th floor in the first block of a certain high rise? If yes, this is a small world oh. lol.

  12. Aunty Uche

    October 4, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Nice write up. Please, make it more often. Some youth actually need to understand their background.
    WE are Africans. we are Nigerian. One love

  13. Aunty Uche

    October 4, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Thumbs up, my darling intelligent niece.

  14. You Planned It Concepts

    October 5, 2016 at 10:24 am

    There is a saying a problem known is a problem half solved. Clearly the youth of today have a fire that is nonpareil. They are passionate about what ever they do be it start ups, social media rants/push on racial and political issues etc and this is only from the limited knowledge they have. Imagine a nation where these passionate youths understand who they are, what the country really is about and the substance of their land I believe they will channel their energy in the right direction. I believe we will raise an army of enlighten intelligent soldiers who now know what exactly they are fighting for, towards and how to go about it.
    My 2 Kobo….

  15. Idu Okwuosa

    October 6, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Hi dear,
    I like your views. You should hook up with my daughter Angel Okwuosa. She also believes that there’s hope for this country.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Tosin

      October 6, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      🙂 seconded 🙂

  16. Johnson

    October 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Great article! This is a great thought in the right direction. The youths have been overshadowed by old brands encycling the political spectrum of the nation. My take is that, if youths are really the leaders of tomorrow as they continuously say, why then are they still relegated to the background when ideas on how to move the nation forward are shared? Why are they not being given the platform to contribute in their own way to the thoughts of taking the nation to where they also believe it should be.

    I supported the notion that youths should know about the history of their nation in order to know what brought us to this stage in order to stand their ground in not being a political tug or miscreants to any money bag political god father, that tend to take advantage of them.

    I also believe with so many other in a greater future outlook for our beloved country Nigeria. It will be a shame and failing mentality to disown your root mistakes of the past.

    Cheer up, with the right minds, Nigeria will be great again.

  17. Adebola Owede

    October 12, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Lovely piece Ada! Nigeria is waiting for the likes of you! Keep making us proud.

  18. Pastor Koye OKANLAWON

    December 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Well written Daughter of Zion! I am personally glad that my opinion of our country’s situation and situation and remedy as echoed by your article is not as complicated as it appears. We just have to go back to the basics and Instil basics Nation building value systems into the curriculum of our learning systems. It must be thought that this is the only country we have and none else. Our youth and coming generation must be taught and act it out that Nigeria is the best country in the whole world. And we must pass it on that whatever evil anyone does today, awaits their children and future coming generation. And let me personally echo it again that you are a good example of our future president in Nigeria. Nothing can stop a willing and persistent heart

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