By Tabia Princewill
Virtually no sector in Nigeria isn’t undergoing some form of crisis or another. In fact, crisis or chaos has become the norm rather than the exception. For more than half of Nigeria’s population, the current state of affairs is the rule and dysfunctionality is customary rather than transient. For many young Nigerians, dishonesty, disloyalty, theft, mannerlessness and greed are virtues and assets rather than vices because all they have seen in the past 30 or so years, all they have ever known, has been the opposite of what is permissible in saner climes.
One doesn’t get ahead by being honest or hard working in Nigeria, no matter what many celebrities or political entrepreneurs will tell you as they thank “God” for enabling their “victory” over haters and devils who tried to hold them back. These would-be devils or haters are simply all those who would dare challenge their supposed right to act with impunity; the devil in this scenario is in fact code for the rule of law and social justice which they believe they are entitled to thwart, therefore ensuring that their social media ready success—I wish more young people realised just how much of the flashy displays on social media are derived from the proceeds of fraud and corruption—deprives others from any opportunity of achieving their dreams.
Interestingly, many young Nigerians do know that the many cars, jewellery and foreign trips advertised by some of our infamous leaders and their progeny result from corruption. Many know and simply cannot wait till it is their turn to defraud the state and their fellow poor, struggling youth.
Defence of corruption and backwardness
There are two categories of young Nigerians, the hopeless and the I-must-join-them-by-force. The latter is enticed by the lavish lifestyles of the politically connected and would sell its soul as well as sell out an entire misery stricken generation to belong to the exclusive class of those who can take advantage of others, lie, cheat and be applauded for doing so. The former category believes in nothing beyond its immediate needs and survival. While its counterparts abroad dream big and start businesses using technology and other freely available tools, the Nigerian youth has accepted that he has been betrayed (by too many generations to count) and has given up the fight. Both groups have the wrong sort of role models: adventurers, idealess wheelers and dealers who belong only to the highest bidder.
Even at home they have been betrayed by parents who tell their children to get smart and do what their neighbours do, scam the system, cheat during exams, commit all manner of fraud in order to live a false life sanctified by some charlatans in prosperity chasing churches. Nigeria is a failed state. We don’t have to wait to become Somalia or a restructured Sudan (proof that “breaking up” or “restructuring” doesn’t solve the fundamental problems of nationhood or magically transform the economy) to admit it. We have failed because these days there is virtually no difference between the hopeless and the I-must-join-them-by-force. Both have merged into a deadly, soulless underclass.
With N200 worth of data, young Nigerians wage war against each other online, in defence of corruption and backwardness because our social contract today predicates that support for the illogical ensures that one day, when one decides to steal there will be other legions of desperate individuals ready to defend or make excuses for crass, sordid behaviour. The greatest tragedy isn’t the many uneducated who don’t have access to social media, to cheap, easy communication or any means to express themselves (for lack of interest or finances) but in fact the many half-baked graduates who speak and act as if they had never been to any school in the first place. Nigerian youths are child soldiers, many with the developmental age and analytical mind of people half their age in other parts of the world because they have been robbed of a good education. We should all be ashamed.
As for those in the diaspora who come back to this country and find they cannot cope because nothing here seems to make sense or follow the established rules of thought, it is nothing short of an existential crisis. Every Nigerian suffers in some way or another from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD. We are all veterans at calculating outcomes and managing the worst situations, walking on a tight rope, lightly, steadily to our doom. This generation needs to do some serious soul-searching. For many aged, tired, defeated war veterans who succumbed, back when they were young to the temptations of life, or rather, the would-be necessities of survival in Nigeria, it might be too late. But for those who are just starting out in life and who have neither the clout nor the influence to secure jobs, contracts or a future for themselves, it is time to think of something different.
Somewhere out there, I want to believe there is someone, perhaps one of the old guard, or perhaps someone new, who wants to write his or her name in history, someone who wants to have an honest conversation with Nigerians of all creeds, classes and ethnicities. That person would then do more than just win an election. That person, if they could articulate the issues to our hungry and desperate youth and then delivered on their promises, would become a legend. There is nothing like a legacy and a good name, not money, not private jets or mansions in Abuja. What people say about you when you aren’t there matters. Somewhere out there, someone is ready to run and the half-baked will happily watch him cook and perfect the disjointed, impoverished mind of a generation that knows it is flawed but can’t imagine any other alternative.
THE Acting VP is (pardon the pun) acting so Presidential. Unfortunately, the ease with which he conducts himself and takes prompt decisions lends credence to the well circulated idea that a cabal, rather than the President himself, has been in charge. He visited Kaduna recently and spoke about the spate of attacks in the southern part of the state.
However, unlike many for whom rhetoric is itself a solution to a grave problem, he said: “I don’t believe that a crisis where there is so much blood letting and hatred over the years can be resolved by a couple of meetings. What I would like to achieve is not a quick fix but I want us to begin a process (…) listen to each group separately and then get everyone together”.
This is conflict management 101, something so simple which strangely seems to have eluded many governors and officials in the middle-belt over the years. There have been many commissions of enquiry into the issues which provoke the ire of settlers, indigenes, herdsmen, farmers, Northern Muslims and Christians, etc., yet few solutions have ever been implemented.
The Acting President can do something ground-breaking, if of course, the pettiness and jealousy of the cabal and all those it has empowered, allows. Peace building and reconciliation should be a national policy objective with clearly outlined developmental goals: to end violence in Nigeria we must end extreme poverty. So, who is ready to run?
THE Governor of Ekiti is at loggerheads with the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. He demanded a refund, a few days ago, of the N10 million he alleged he and 30 other governors were forced to donate to the former president’s presidential library.
Not only are contributions to such endeavours meant to be voluntary, they are supposed to emanate from private individuals and not the public purse which is meant for projects of national character and not individualistic, perhaps unjustified, self-aggrandising pursuits.
The governor also asked to be refunded the “interest” which should have accrued on his donation. Nigeria is a wonderfully illogical place where even the truth, as perverse as it is, is only ever known during or because of fights and disagreements between former allies.