By Ibrahim Adeyemi
“Parents listen to your children, We are the leaders of tomorrow, Try to pay our school fees, And give us sound education”
-marching song for elementary school pupils.
Whosoever wrote the above marching song for pupils in their preliminary level of education had done nothing good for the Nigerian youth than making us unreasonably excited when those lines are being sung. I think the killing of the youths’ bright future starts from what is inculcated in us from our primary level. Setting the future of the youth ablaze by the ageists did not start today; it started before our fathers could eat themselves with their first right fingers. Those who intend to rule this country forever had and still have a good architectural plan on today’s youth, psychologically.
In a more microscopic point of view to the above marching song, the writer begins by ordering the parents to listen to the illusionary dream of their children. What’s the so-called dream? “We are the leaders of tomorrow.”
However, one will wonder why we are not the leaders of today. What is today and what is tomorrow? When shall we witness the tomorrow? Is there any forethought tomorrow when today is carousing? How on earth will today assume duty when yesterday has not retired or resigned, let alone tomorrow that is even likely to be uncertain?
The ‘leaders of tomorrow’ as we are called, is not only mystical but also mysterious; there is something seemingly obscure and nebulous about the so-called nomenclature which is used to refer to the Nigerian youth. There is something unsaid or not well said about something and, that is the word ‘tomorrow’. When we intend to have today, we shall have tomorrow and whenever we have tomorrow, we shall always have another tomorrow. Calling us “the leaders of tomorrow” is like placing us properly on a legless high chair. The ageists have their own conspirational meaning for ‘tomorrow’ for today’s youth.
Jon Earthneel said this about Tomorrow: “Tomorrow doesn’t exist. Tomorrow shouldn’t exist. And we should try to comprehend tomorrow. Since it is so beyond our brain capacity, it will destroy our sanity”. This as implied by Jon is what the ageists mean by ‘tomorrow’ and not ‘the day after today’. And, here we are, willing and hoping for ourselves, by ourselves to be the leaders of tomorrow, thinking things will be different, yet, tomorrow is nothing but often the redundancy of today. We are dissatisfied and disappointed again and again every now and then.
The truth is clear except we wish to hold the lips. That tomorrow when we shall be ruling our Motherland may not come since those who ruled yesterday are ruling today and still willing to rule tomorrow. They want to be in power for ever and ever and if at all, death will have to stop them. They still want their children to further rule us and continue from where they stop in setting our bright future ablaze. Only the sons and daughters of the poor are done in or done for; they will ever be subservient to the sons and daughters of these devilish gerontocrats.
Furthermore, the marching song writer urges our parents to do two things: “Pay our school fees” and “give us sound education”. Whether our parents or government is responsible for paying “our school fees” is not my modus operandi now. But the winning worry on my mind is the “sound education”. This, we already know, is one of the plots made to make us believe that free education is not the responsibility of the government but the duty of our parents to “pay our school fees”. But then, what about the sound education? What Nigerian youth are getting is not education; I suppose it is called schooling. Technically, it is one thing to be schooled and another thing to be educated. Both of them are not the same, are they?
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education,” said, Martin Luther King. Webster’s dictionary defines schooling as “the process of being taught, such as in a school”. The process of educating is really not tantamount to schooling; they are two different things. Education is productivity, creativity and the ability to make things real. “Any system of education which does not help a man to have a healthy and sound body and alert brain, and balanced and disciplined instinctive urges, is both misconceived and dangerous,” said Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
It is said that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. Because the evil ageists are aware of this fact, they have refused to give the youth qualitative education. Teachers are treated scornfully. Students are good for nothing because they have received nothing good from their badly treated teachers. The system of education in this country is as poor as the church’s mouse. Creativity is misplaced in arts; technology is dead in sciences and productivity is not found anywhere. Cramming is encouraged and comprehension is discouraged. Students read with pressure and not pleasure. While ASUU strikes the Federal Government by not working, our public servants and leaders travel abroad to celebrate their children’s convocations. All these are exactly why we are aback in everything. Nothing worthy of appraisal is coming from Nigerian youths. This is consequentially a reflection of our impoverished state of education in Nigeria.
The ageists or the gerontocrats believe that both the elephant and its calf are not expected to trumpet at the same time. They say the young bird does not crow until it hears the old one. But then, if these evil habituated old men will not desist from setting the future of the youth on fire, isn’t it high time we let them know that the youth are not too young to run?
Courage, ability, responsibility and responsiveness, integrity and the mind to serve humanity are all that we need to tool in fighting against the so-called evil-minded old men. Nigeria will never move forward unless we employ youthful minds that are up to the minutes, rather than the barbaric sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and so on. To make mincemeat of these aging men, we youth have a mountain to climb.
Ibrahim Adeyemi writes in from Sokoto.