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Youth & Politics: Oil and Water?

Written by Lea Kelley

Nigeria, Nigeria, Nigeria. The land of milk and honey, our promised land that is yet to fulfill its promises to the people. We have waited on empty promises for decades, promises of a new world, of a better world were against all the odds love, honesty and justice would reign.

The truth is the Nigerian youth has been brought up in a corrupt and desolate system that turns a blind eye to evil and emulates the dishonest. It has wrecked our moral compass in so many ways.

The older generation point fingers and systematically forget they paved the path we now constantly stumble on. The president calls us lazy, “The lazy Nigerian youth” to be precise. Where are the job opportunities set in place that we have ignored? The average youth graduates from university, serves in the National Youth Service Corps and then the real trial begins: the hunt for a job.

I do not think the middle and upper class really understand the difficulties the youth in this country are facing. The struggle, the toil and the tears that go into surviving in Nigeria, beating the odds stacked against us.

Young men and woman trekking from office to office under the blazing sun, from interview to interview, hustling to get a decent job to at least pay the bills, not to mention take care of our families that most of the time look to us for support at this crucial stage in our lives.

Graduates of medicine and engineering are selling hair and clothes. Some people genuinely enjoy their hustle, but I assure you from research, a good amount of entrepreneurs started their hustle to pay the bills when doors were not opening.

Lets be frank, if Shell offered an entrepreneur a job with six figure monthly pay out, is it likely they would reject the offer to start their own hair business? Most likely, they would take the job and run their business on the side. Living in Nigeria is not cheap, rent is not cheap, transportation and feeding are not cheap, clothes and other miscellaneous items are not cheap!

All we have asked for, for years is for the government to create job opportunities for the masses. We know we cannot fix the system in a day but our leaders should at least consider the benefit, that more job opportunities boosts the nation’s economy.

A lot of politicians are so shortsighted they can barely see past their noses (and the millions of naira they embezzle), governors who have been saddled with the task of looking after their citizens are forgetting their roots.

I have noticed, a lot of politicians detest anything that reminds them of where they came from, of who they used to be before the money and fame. They are so enthralled with the good life they have conveniently forgotten about the people who put them there.

We have been given another promise, a promise of 774,000 jobs for the youth, to cushion the effects of the dreaded coronavirus that has crashed our already ailing economy. The program has been named the “Special Public Works Program”.

The President of Nigeria, Muhammudu Buhari announced this in his Democracy day speech. Buhari announced that 774 local government areas in the country would be allotted 1,000 slots. In his words, he is “pleased to report that this program has commenced.”

Since that announcement, it has been one debacle after another. The latest was the disgrace of a meeting at the national assembly, where a shouting match ensued between the Minister of state for labour and employment, Festus Keyamo and members of the national assembly.

The members queried Keyamo for not carrying them along on decisions he made in regards to the program. Keyamo stated however that he was unwilling to surrender or share any power with the senators and members and we all know how entitled the average “big man” is. A heated argument ensued and Keyamo was asked to leave. My question is: if our leaders cannot even implement a program of this magnitude without tussling with each other over power and control, doesn’t that raise a huge red flag to everyone?

I do not believe our country is beyond saving, I believe we can still steer our beloved country in the right direction and raise and educate the next generation to be stronger and better than we are.

We still have an extremely long way to go but the change starts amongst us. We must become more invested and outspoken about the affairs of our nation. We cannot let the older generation drive us into the ground because when their time comes, they will leave us in hole they dug for us, we will be left to pick up the shattered pieces of our democracy.

The mindset of “oh, it doesn’t concern me, I just want to make enough money to leave this country” will lead us nowhere! When we travel abroad and have kids, what do we tell them when they ask questions about their heritage and their roots, or worse still want to visit their motherland?

We will be looked at as cowards, for tucking our tails between our legs and taking off when our country needed us the most. We must all get involved and link our arms together in an unbreakable chain of solidarity, the time has never been more right with the help of social media and foreign bodies watching us.

Arise, O compatriots.