By Isaac Asabor
There is no denying the fact that the ongoing “End SARS Protest” that is been spearheaded by Nigerian youths has shown that they are never in any way lazy except that they have been denied the opportunities to realize their potentials since decades. They are not alone in the waiting of this elusive tomorrow. Even their parents waited for it too. Analyzed from the perspective of Archimedes that said, “Give me a place to stand, and a lever long enough, and I will move the world”, it would not be wrong to say in this context that where the youths ought to have been standing has seemingly not being the concern of the governments; at all tiers.
Against the backdrop of the collective ingenuity, maturity and futuristic mindsets the youths so far brought to bear in the organization of the End SARS Protests, there is no denying the fact that they understand what it takes to organize a peaceful protest, and a meaningful way of coming together as united friends, brothers and sisters to raise awareness about a particular concern or issue; just as they are doing through the End SARS Protest. To say that the organization of the protest is unprecedented cannot be pooh-poohed as they have through the Protests been communicating clear and accurate message to the intended recipients and the broader public.
Analyzed from the foregoing, it can never be considered to be hyperbolic to say that the Nigerian youths are not lazy. They are leading already. They can no longer wait till tomorrow as they have unarguably been waiting. They have told this writer who have passed the age bracket of a youth that he is the leader of tomorrow. For the sake of clarity, the Nigerian national youth policy (2009) defines youth as between 18-35 years. This is how I was promised of the tomorrow that never came by governments in the past. I never waited for them. I took my destiny in my own hands by doing all kinds of odd jobs to sponsor the part time education I acquired to arrive at the “Tomorrow” they never created for me and the youths that fall into the generation I belongs to.
To me, the often quoted saying that, “The youths are the leaders of tomorrow” is no more finding expression in who I think Nigerian youths are. I have been hearing leaders mouth the saying since infancy and I have been wondering if that’s true in its real sense. Nigerian youths stop waiting for the “Tomorrow” that the government always promise. With God, in His infinite mercy, the youths can create their own tomorrow.
With what I am seeing in the youths of today, it may not be erroneous to say that from henceforth it would be apt to recite the saying in the reverse, thus: “The Nigerian youths are the leaders of today. The reason for the foregoing line of thinking cannot be farfetched as they have for the umpteenth time been demonstrating the desire to improve upon the unsatisfactory yesterdays and today the leaders created for a better tomorrow. They are so energetic and industrious as they can be seen dominating the virtually all sectors of the economy, particularly in the ICT, Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) sector of the economy. In the area of entertainment arts that cut across music, comedy and film making, they are unarguably calling the shots.
To my view, the time has come for the governments to synergize and expedite action towards the realization of the long-awaited tomorrow for the youths for them to occupy their position of leadership in the society. Different generations have come and passed but upon the present lies a greater expectation.
Having been born and raised in the giant of Africa, I have indeed witnessed the series of leadership my country experienced. It has the highest population in Africa, with a high wealth of natural resources, yet it is swallowed by the forces of anarchy, and deeply entrenched political culture of bad leadership that is characterized with fake promises.
At this juncture, it is pertinent to ask those that are steering the ship of the Federal Government of Nigeria what kind of youths they really want, and what kind of gift do they really want the youths to give to the nation. The reason for the foregoing demand from the government in this context cannot be farfetched as John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States of America in his inaugural speech, charged the Americans, ostensibly the youths, “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
In view of the above puzzling questions, our leaders are in a good position to choose the quality of contributions they want from the youths.
It is germane to point out at this juncture that JFK’s 1961 inauguration address was marked by sparkling phrase-making among which is “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” In the light of the deep wisdom that is inherent in the foregoing speech, one is tempted to ask what our leaders want from the youths. Is it violence they want from them? It is not false to say that they are getting enough of it from many of the youths in the northern part of the country that have unpatriotically and defiantly joined the dreaded Boko Haram sect even as kidnappers hold sway in that parts of the country.
Still in the same nexus, if they want the youths to be giving back to the country by creating sodomic environment across the nation, they should be rest assured that they are already getting that from some vulnerable youths that have literarily strayed away from various institutions of learning, to the streets and clubs. In the ongoing protests, we have in Lagos, Benin, Abuja and other parts of the country read or listened in the media how some unscrupulous youths have literarily collected pots of porridge from their sponsors with the aim of jeopardizing the ongoing protest with violence, and ostensibly give the governments enough reasons to clamp down on the protesters.
It is germane to say that the essence of this piece is to let our leaders decide what they actually want from the youths. If they want peace, they should begin to initiate youth-centered policies and programmes. On the other hand, if they want violence from the youths it is left to them. At least, with what has been happening on the streets in the last few days, it is very glaring that the youths can reset the country if further pushed to the wall. To this end, those in power should not forget that the youths cannot give what they do not have, and that they are not lazy as some leaders erroneously think. Succinctly put, the youths of today are already leaders. They have what it takes to be leaders of today. They don’t need to be waiting for governments’ kind of tomorrow that will never come. They are already leaders of today, and not tomorrow as erroneously thought!
AS an African proverb says, when a farmer arrogantly beats his chest at the market square and proclaims that his son would one day build him a better hut than the one he built for himself and later on in life give him a befitting burial when he dies, then one does not need a soothsayer to tell him that he must have, over the years, harvested enough tubers and invested same towards the child’s future. Viewed from the perspective of the foregoing, one may not be wrong to think that the late American president, John F. Kennedy was very confident of the enabling environment which the then American leaders created for the American youths coupled with the investment made on their future when he said, in his inaugural speech as the 35th president of the United States, “…ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” To this end, our leaders should see the ongoing End SARS protest as an opportunity to have a rethink on how the collective wellbeing of the youths should be taken care of, sagaciously through quality education, massive creation of jobs and intensified efforts in putting in place laudable machinery that would enhance security of lives and property.
Isaac Asabor is a Public Affairs Analyst.