As Nigerian youths joined their counterparts all over the world to celebrate the International Youth Day, a few days ago, Veteran journalist and social commentator, Jimi Disu bared his mind on why youths in the country were not properly engaged in political and socio-economic processes, adding that the youths of today were not even ready for the task as a result of the orientation bequeathed on them. Jimi Disuin this interview said: “I don’t blame them anyway, it is what they met on ground. But Nigerians will learn the hard way.”
By Ishola Balogun
Why do you think the youth are notgetting interested or getting involved in governance in Nigeria?
I don’t think they are not interested. I think they are not getting equal opportunities. Part of the problem, is because like every other person in the country, the new phenomenon is to have a sense of entitlement to everything. Meaning you sit back and you want people to come and open the door and invite you in. It doesn’t work that way. You have to struggle.
The youths of today are not ready to do that. I don’t blame them anyway, it is what they met on ground. Most of them were born at a time Maradona was dribbling everybody in Nigeria. By that time, the spirit of hard work had left Nigeria. It has got so bad now that during Covid-19 lockdown, the government said everybody should wear face-mask, they said: “Is the government going to supply us face-mask?” and I wondered, is the government going to supply you shirt and trousers? You see, they want to sit back and want to be invited. During our days, nobody opened the doors for us, you have to barge in. It is true that very bad examples were laid for them since that footballer took over and was dribbling everybody. But with what we have seen in the world, the orientation will change.
The youths need to grab the future and the future is already here. When I was in school, the Head of State then was 32. Rasheed Gbadamosi was a commissioner at 28. Mobolaji Johnson was the governor in his late 30s. Even Pa Awolowo was entrenched in politics before he became 40 including Fani-Kayode and others.
But the youth got stuck in the sense of entitlement that the footballer brought, they got entwined in that sense of corruption and laziness and no-future-ambition, sense of easy wealth that he brought. Unfortunately, we are seeing it happening again and again. What wrecked us in the Shagari era was that all our loans were not put to good use. But what people of my age group met on ground was honour, hard work and contentment. There was no easy money and that was why we are not used to easy money.
But when this whole corruption spiral started, and the youth started seeing people making easy money, then you will know where they tookit from. I am not saying it is an excuse for bad behaviour but the truth is that a bad example had been set for them. But they need tore-tune and reset their own brains.
The issue raises a lot of concern because the youth of today who are expected to take leadership tomorrow do not seem to have what it takes to lead very well when the leadership is thrust on them tomorrow. What do you think?
Why are you worried about tomorrow when today is not even good? The people who are taking care of us today, what generation are they? So, why do you have to worry about tomorrow when today itself is not even good.
Look at the political horizon and give me ten names that they know what they are doing. And if among 200million people you cannot confidently say ten are good among the governors, ministers and political leaders, you know you have problem.
None. That culture is gone. My fear is that this country is going to learn the hard way. When Nigerians suffer to a point, they will learn their lesson. Just wait and see. You can imagine the kind of scandal you are hearing, NDDC and the rest, people stuffing money in graveyard, stealing and hiding money everywhere, stealing in mind-bulging proportion. DuringCovid-19, you said you took N10billion to go on inspection. Did you charter a plane? If it has gotten to that, you know that the end is near. When the end is near and the whole thing is in ruins, then we will reset it.
What advice do you have for the youth?
I don’t have any advice for them. We will learn the hard way. I have been in the analysis since 1980 and in activism since 1975 and the same thing keep re-occurring and every time, it goes from bad to worse. Now the stage that we are now, we will learn the hard way.