Dear Nigerian Youth,
Looking around the contraption called Nigeria should bring you to tears and evoke outrage within your circle. You should tear your clothes and pour ashes on your head as you seek to be part of the solution but rather you’re part of the problem. When you should be seeking answers, you’re a significant part of the question. I have watched and read in utter dismay- not shock as you can’t shock me anymore- as one group of youth after another celebrate their looters and oppressors. “In youth we learn, in age we understand”, said Marie Von Ebner but I wonder if you learn anything at all. You fight for your looters and oppressors when you should fight against them. Is it any wonder then that Herbert Hoover said “Older men declare war but it is the youth that must fight and die”?
You are like Jether in Judges 8 verse 20 : “And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth”. You’re unable to draw up your sword and that is why the sword is drawn against you. You never stand up to fight for the salvation of your land and future. You constantly praise those you should erase. You easily destroy the few among you who are men of ideas. You pull down those who seek to pull you up. You fight for everyone except yourselves. You have a morbid hatred for self. You’re a willing tool in the hand of those who destroy your common patrimony. You are very fearful instead of being feared.
Let’s talk about the future, your future : a shopping centre abroad will be using computer vision, deep learning algorithms and sensor fusion to ensure you walk in, shop and just go away with your items without staying on a queue but here in 2016 Nigeria you even stay on queues to cash your own money and buy essential commodities. France has built a 1,000km solar road where cars drive on solar panels but we can’t even finish reconstructing Lagos-Ibadan expressway. By next year, there will be the first human head transplant by an Italian neurosurgeon but polio and Lassa fever has staged a comeback in this clime. By 2020, while others will be able to switch off their fat cells and eat anything they want without the fear of obesity while people die in Nigerian IDP camps because of malnutrition. Samsung will release foldable smartphones next year while your leaders grapple with production of pencils. In 2017, the robotic chef arm that can cook up to 2,000 recipes will be launched but in Nigeria we still source for cooks from Akwa Ibom and Cross River States.
While touch responsive prosthetics which will enable people who have been amputated have a sense of touch and can be controlled will be available from next year in the civilized world, Nigeria still gropes in the dark and some of her institutions carry out surgeries using candles and lanterns. The US Army is working on a tactical assault light operator suit which will provide fire, shock and ballistic protection to its soldiers but Nigerian soldiers are fainting because of hunger on battle fronts. Bangladesh, a country that is also considered as developing and has one of the worst flooding problems in the world has about 100 boat schools with each one having internet access, a library and is solar powered. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso has been under lock for seven months because two Nigerian states with the same tribe and language can’t agree on funding and ownership.
You use social media for every imaginable evil contraption but you can’t rally it for social good. A little while ago, some students from various universities in Pakistan aged 21-26 came together to find solutions for 13 water- and sanitation-related problems facing their community by using web-based and mobile applications for water and sanitation. You come together only to share memes of your political enemies, wail or hail on social media. Israel has an official twitter handle that has an average of five posts a day highlighting various topics from archaeological discoveries to technological breakthroughs in the country. The United Kingdom official twitter channel tweets links to what Brits are doing all over the world in the fields of human rights and medicine and what foreign officials are up to abroad. Nigeria has just launched an app that has one of its features as opportunity for all Nigerians to bid for government contracts. They know that is the only thing that interests you.
You are worse than the people you seek to replace. You are to be feared more than the people you complain about. Nigeria is a huge criminal enterprise and you are co-facilitators. Your traducers understand you more than you understand yourself. They know your god is your belly and you are a slave to your selfish desires. Your ambition is very lowly and you have a price. That is why they easily recruit you as e-rats and touts. For a morsel of pottage, you can mortgage your future because you belong to the lineage of Esau. You are unwilling to pay the price for liberty and freedom. You are unable to sacrifice for the future you so much talk and dream about. You want power served to you a la carte.
102 years after amalgamation and 56 years after independence, youths 35 years and below constitute about 70% of the total Nigerian population. Those between 15-35 years are about 70 million. Nevertheless, you are the most unproductive youth population ever. We have the most ignorant set of youths ever in the history of this nation. People blame the Minister of Youth and Sports but Solomon Dalung is just a reflection of the average Nigerian youth. Like the Minister, like the Nigerian youth.
Another year has slipped by and the Nigerian state is now worse than ever. Armageddon beckons. You represent the very last chance to salvage the ship of state if you can morph into a very virile force that accurately determines the direction of our common destiny. The old order has shown it cannot do better. Two generations should not wallow in misfortune, says a Nigerian proverb. Will your generation get it right at all? Will you listen to the voice of reason and leverage on your numbers to save all of us? You can register a new political party. Or form a critical mass or pressure groups in an existing one. Set up accountability groups across local governments and states. Participate actively in the political process. Identify some young outliers and rally round them so as to get them to political office. Create jobs. Be contributors to the economy. Start an NGO. Find a good cause and support it. No one will give you power on a platter of gold. You have to grab it.
Stop talking. Start doing. Now.
Bayo Adeyinka is the author of “The Angry Letter” Series. You can read the previous angry letters here:
1. Angry Letter To The Nigerian Youth goo.gl/K1Lxow
2. Yet Another Angry Letter To The Nigerian Youth goo.gl/Ipmwkg
3. Angry Letter To The Nigerian Youth (3): The Future Is Here With Us goo.gl/5oWqsg
4. Angry Letter To The Nigerian Youth (4): Please Marry A Lazy Woman goo.gl/RT8cSE