December 30, 2022

Life beyond the thunderdome

By Donu Kogbara

ON the eve of a new year, I’m sharing some interesting thoughts about hopes and dreams from my friend, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo: 

Out of the ruins

Out of the Wreckage

Can’t make the same mistakes this time

We are the children

The last generation

We are the ones they left behind

And I wonder when we are ever gonna change

Living under fear, till nothing else remains

We don’t need another Hero

We don’t need to know the way home

All we want is life beyond the Thunderdome.

From “We don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner.

ONE of my favourite artists is Tina Turner.  She became famous in the 1960s as the lead singer of a group formed by her then husband Ike; and she succeeded again in the 1980s as a solo artist. I loved her ’80s music and the lyrics I quote above come from one of her last 80 hits and were part of the soundtrack of a movie about the aftermath of the destruction of the world. 

The recent debate between Chukwuma Soludo, the Governor of Anambra State, and Peter Obi, a previous governor of the same state and current presidential candidate, reminded me of the Turner song and made me realise that some members of the establishment simply don’t understand what is going on with youths.

All Nigeria’s youth want is life beyond the Thunderdome.  The Thunderdome is life after civilization ends, with marauding bandits under a supposed hero who just further depraves the people; and they scavenge and terrorize each other. 

While people like Soludo may not understand the description of the Thunderdome as representing Nigeria, the youth of the country recognise it. They see themselves turning on each other through banditry, fraud and fast money-making schemes to survive, since they find few ways to make a living legitimately. 

They see that the harder they work legitimately, the harder it is to get ahead. Scoundrels brutalise and oppress daily. They know that if nothing changes after the next election, they will be the last generation of Nigerians because something has to give. The tremendous and completely unnecessary loss of human life and talent that is Nigeria will have to give way to its constituent nation states as a human rights issue. Our fault lines by the divisions we found ourselves in when the British colonized us have always been there; but in my lifetime, they have never been this wide but at the same time this narrow.

The current administration’s overwhelming nepotism to one side, which of course led to agitation from each of the other groups, is to be expected; but the economic hardship that every group and almost every individual is undergoing has also made it possible for all to come together and try to create a country that works for all.

Soludo thinks Nigerians want a hero, but they don’t.  The youth are not anointing Obi as a hero but are taking their own future into their own hands out of desperation. Obi is just a tool, and he seems to understand this from the humble way he replied Soludo. 

One of the accusations that baffles me is that someone put the state money into a company shares as savings for the state and the share prices go down because the country is going through economic turmoil due to bad governance and post-COVID global situation which the buyer could not have predicted. 

The money is still there and if the economy gets better, there is the possibility that the money could quadruple or more, meaning that Obi saved money for the future generation. 

How many states in Nigeria have savings? For that matter how much does the Federal Republic of Nigeria have in savings? Its debts are based on future sales of crude oil, not on savings. But instead of praising Obi for his foresight, Soludo decided to berate him. Nigeria is in ruins (any country where your best skilled and abled young are leaving in droves and by any means necessary is in ruins).

Last generation of Nigerians 

Out of the wreckage (death, kidnappings, rape, desolation), the youth have decided not to make the same mistake this time. They are the children and if they don’t solve it, they will be the last generation of Nigerians before everyone goes to their respective nation states, since the human suffering brought about by the Nigerian state is greater than the benefit it provides.

They are ones, elite like Soludo left behind.

They wonder when we are all going to change.

They have been living in fear of dying but are dying anyway and all their hopes and dreams are gone and nothing remains but desolation and joining the hordes of scavengers.

They don’t need the people promising them change that they didn’t deliver before and trying to be heroes now.

They know their home and it is Nigeria, every single part of it but it’s becoming ever uncomfortable to call it home.

Home is ejecting them daily, but they know home shouldn’t feel like this. Home should be the place you realize your hopes and dreams and try to improve your life and those of your loved ones.

Home should not be a place where you constantly wonder if today is the day you will die, from ‘bandits’ or a policeman’s bullet, or even hunger or even state-sponsored religious zealotry.

They want a home that is not the Thunderdome. 

They know bad things happen everywhere and the 40-year old genius can die tragically anywhere on the globe, but in Nigeria, the chances of living to be 40 for their generation is becoming a dream.

There are the constant road accidents, bandits, terrorists, ritualists and every other kind of risk round the corner at every given turn.

Life beyond the Thunderdome is what Nigerians youth are seeking, not a hero.  They are ready to participate in reshaping the future into one they thrive in.