If indeed youths are the future of this nation there is a need for our voices to be heard however brash and inexperienced our opinion may sound to the ears of the wicked generations that brought us to where we are. From what we can see there seems to be an “Ahab” generation of leaders who enjoyed Nigeria’s wealth and decided that no other generation would get a bite. There is even a conspiracy that expects the Nigerian youth to busy himself with singing or dancing talent hunts and reality shows to keep us distracted while darkness is enveloping our future. Thanks to the social media we can see the direction in which life is advancing in other nations and must conclude that the present leadership of the country cannot get us there. While we thank God for the young footballers, sportsmen, comedians and entertainers that are making waves in our generation we also know that our future cannot be sustained by entertainment alone. Every serious nation of the world is focused on educating its youth aright but we see that Nigeria cannot achieve this because our leaders are completely clueless. If we use our President, Jonathan Goodluck Ebere and General Muhammad Buhari as the representation of Nigerian leadership the youths know that we are in deep trouble. Its very difficult to see how these dinosaurs from the “typewriter generation” can take us into the computer age where others live. We must ask ourselves whether our president GEJ has observed that our generation across the globe is not sold on wearing wristwatches. In an age when the most basic of phones is multifunctional how can the cost and weight of a contraption that carries only one function be justified? Does the ex-General Mohammed Buhari see the speed at which our fingers fly across the keypads to form texts on phones as a form of communication? Could either of them visualize a nation where Nigerian youths can become major players in the world of high tech equipment and advanced thinking? None of these people can take us to the future we desire because there is a great disconnect between the world that shaped them and the advanced society that has shrunk the Earth into a digital village. Just last week we saw a young man from a foreign nation displaying a noiseless solar powered car on TV with a resin based light weight body generated by a 3-D printer. How many such geniuses are hawking broom sticks in Lagos traffic, selling fish by Port Hacourt waterside or wasting away in dustry Katsina?
To the youths Mohammed Buhari represents an oppressive, unbending order while GEJ represents “compromise”. At best the Buhari model will continue to produce children programmed with hatred, backwardness and destructive potentials while the “Jonathan compromise” will keep churning out confused ill educated, desperate and unemployed youths destined to become the laughing stock of the world. Between these two men and their cohorts Nigerian youths that all men are not created equal in Nigeria and no youth can lay claim to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness as a right! Youths as the major constituency in the nation should be calling for the abolishment of the present architecture of governance. We should be seeking an alternative to regain our lost hopes for safety and happiness but we are restrained because of the African factor. Yet history books teach us that we have been at this crossroads before! As a raw Ijebu boy of no certain distinction Obafemi Awolowo realized that neither the exploitative colonial arrangement of his day nor the moribund traditional structure had anything to offer for his generation. He could have lived and died as a victim of his circumstances but he refused to accept this. Pinpointing mass education as the key to a future for himself and his generations he sought it with everything until he got to study Law in the United Kingdom. With great discipline, wise planning and grim determination he scaled formidable hurdles and returned to introduce the game changer into Nigerian affairs. Awolowo knew that the colonial forces would never give up their advantage without a fight and he realized that the traditional structure was an equally oppressive weight. Awolowo even admired the laudable ideals of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s pan-African dream but he understood the opposition and stumbling blocks that the colonial lords had injected into our systems. With visionary pragmatism Awolowo chose to use the positive aspects of the African culture as the building blocks of his vision of a prosperous and progressive African society. The formal launch of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa in London was probably based more on strategy than tribal sentiments because he needed a ready made platform to build an accord that would embrace change. Using the cultural union as a raw material and mass education as the strategy Awolowo later launched the Action Group as the political vehicle to address the plight of his people and the hopelessness of a generation. If each regional leader had followed suit a critical mass of educated people would have mushroomed in the nation.
Within 10 years the Western region of Nigeria witnessed rapid change so much that it launched Africa’s first TV station ahead of many European countries. His government left a formidable industrial structure behind with a financial legacy in excess of a trillion dollars. All attempts to expand this approach across the national front failed because some other constituent units had been influenced by the colonial machinery to ignore mass education. In the absence of a uniform distribution of enlightened commoners across the nation deep animosities regained the driving seat and Nigeria, the great hope of Africa made its return into the shadows of darkness. Ever since the mid-sixties till date the nation has suffered a consistent decline in the critical thought, wise planning and pragmatic assessment that characterized Awolowo’s approach. The introduction of violent expressions of religious terrorism by the Boko Haram has now added a dynamic that makes the meltdown of the weakened Nigerian state inevitable unless something drastic is done. One spark of hope in this dark picture emerged when it was whispered that the highly respected Professor Yemi Osinbajo was being touted as the Vice presidential support for one of the political dinosaurs but the reasoning youths will disagree to such an arrangement. In any serious society no one would present a Buhari ahead of an Osinbajo. There is absolutely nothing in the military career of the military man turned politician that lights a torch near the national judicial reforms that the former Attorney General of Lagos State ignited during his tenure. In fact the other side of the political equation would have to come up with matching quality to Osinbajo or face crippling defeat in a fair election. Many of us (the average young citizen) would sell all we have to support the presidential election of a man like Osinbajo! Simply because he represents a modern version of the Awolowo paradigm and a restoration of critical thought. His deep friendship with and mutual respect of Rauf Aregbesola presents the kind of balanced religious tolerance that we desperately need and his track record in public service has shown us that Osinbajo would never trade the lives of youths to fatten his personal purse. Osinbajo is not a dinosaur and he could help the youths to regain the hope that is lost. We take refuge in the fact that the dinosaurs will not live forever and the typewriter generation will cease to exist some day. Until then all we can do is pray that God will raise another Awolowo from any part of the country to deliver us from the dinosaurs.