Once upon a time, Nigeria had a generation of people who believed so much in the country. Nigerians hoped that Nigeria will be a true Giant of Africa. There were people, who fought for the economy, who fought the political elite, who fought those who sat in Aso Rock and used the masses as footstools. People who were thrown in prisons, were willing to give their all and lose their lives to see that this country became better. We had the likes of Dele Giwa, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Margaret Ekpo, and so on
It is not so anymore…
It is said that this new generation – millennials – are cowards who hide behind the safety of their smartphones to condemn their leaders but cannot stand on their two feet – jaws set, hands clenched and fury-faced – to fight their government.
Older Nigerians have accused millennials of being warriors on the internet and being chickens who shiver at the lightest drop of rainfall offline.
But is this true? Are millennials cowards? Are Nigerian youths cowards?
For some people, the answer could be yes. For how would you describe a set of people who hardly ever stand up for anything or to anyone? How do you explain a set of people who have been constantly flagellated by those in power but have still chosen to lie on the floor and lick their wounds?
People who never fight back.
On the other hand, some have argued that Nigerian millennials are not cowards. They are just a bunch of people who have, through the years, hoped and hoped for this country to get better and their hopes have been consistently smashed against the rocks.
They are youths that have realised that this country has no future plans for them and so they struggle to make ends meet and make something out of their lives. Even in this process, this country – that has provided next to nothing for them – still takes away from them.
They are people who have resigned to fate, waking up each day with the prayer to leave “this God-forsaken land”.
Nigerian youths seem to perform wonderfully anywhere in the world, except in Nigeria. From the Sciences to the Arts and through every sector, Nigerians have been deemed to have very high intelligent quotient, be very resilient people and hardworking people who are hungry to succeed and make something great of their lives.
Look around you: Nigerian youths are insanely creative and intelligent. Their eyes brim with the desire to succeed and their hands are very swift to work. But this does not reflect in the development of the country and we still lag behind when it comes to solving our problems.
You don’t have to rack your brain to know why. The average Nigerian youths is stifled by many constraints; poverty, economic meltdown, epileptic politic-ing, insecurity, lack of infrastructure, poor medical services – just name it! Every news headline is filled with stories of woes. If it is not a market burning somewhere, it is the kidnap of hundreds of girls, or a tanker overturned somewhere.
Internationally, our reputation precedes us. So many Nigerians who have managed to hone their skills cannot compete internationally because they have been tagged as criminals. Many have lost life-changing opportunities.
The country has over and over again proven to be limiting in every way.
The effect of all these is such that Nigerians – especially the youths – have become somewhat detached from the country and could care less if it burns to the ground. Their love for their country has been eclipsed by the many malfunctions plaguing the country.
Many Nigerian youths are ‘ghosts’…
People whose major dream is to seek their fortune in another land but are stunted by their financial incapabilities and are depressed by the realisation that as much as they really want to leave, they might remain here for a long time. They are like ghosts – their bodies are here, but their minds, souls and spirits are gone. They also move like strangers in their own land – working to better their own lives and resolving not to waste their emotions and power on a country ‘that is not worth it’.
The latest Big Brother Naija proved that Nigerians can go all out for something they are emotionally invested in. For a show that will not in any way make the average Nigerian’s life better (except if you’re a housemate), Nigerians spent millions upon millions of Naira to keep their favourite housemate in the house.
If you tell these same Nigerians who voted to make donations to build roads or hospitals, there’s a very high chance that they wouldn’t. That is because they have no trust in the system. What’s the guarantee that after donating, the roads will be constructed? What’s the guarantee that one government official will not buy substandard materials and ‘pocket the change’?
Many Nigerian youths would rather vote for a Big Brother Naija housemate than to go out to vote for a presidential candidate. They have more confidence that their votes will count in the Big Brother show than in the presidential election. So why do they have to vote if the election will be rigged at the end of the day?
Have you noticed that Nigerians hardly celebrate Independence Day anymore? Many people sit in their houses and say “what’s there to celebrate?”. It is increasingly common to see people hiss when the president talks. Nigerians can be heard saying “e no go fit beta, na God hand we dey”. Many would also say “this country is not worth dying for, let me just concentrate on my life abeg”.
It is obvious that a lot of Nigerians have lost hope in the country and they have been subdued.
More worrisome is the fact that, just like wildfire, this loss of hope is being passed on from Generation X to Millennials and then Centennials. Many growing kids can be heard saying “Nigeria cannot be better” and the solution is to ‘run away from all these problems’.
When Canada re-elected Justin Trudeau as their new Prime Minister, Nigerians were jubilating on Twitter. Although it was all jokes and fun, it is a perfect reflection of what many Nigerian youths are thinking. Jokes or not, everyone wants to go!
So is Nigeria raising a generation of ghosts? Or are we ghosts already? What can be done to restore hope into the hearts of Nigerians? What can be done to ensure that Nigerians become emotionally invested in the country? What can we do to bridge this gap between the government and the people?
What do you think? Let’s hear from you.