What do you feel when you look at pictures of violent events on the television? What do you feel when you find yourself at a scene just right after a horrible disaster. When you see dead bodies lying on the ground, what do you feel? Sorrow? Fear? Relief that you or your family members are not amongst them? Do you ask questions like, what will be the fate of this family?
Reading through several accounts of Nigeria’s history which includes archived documents, personal bibliographies and books, I have no doubt reached the opinion that this present generation of ours (40 and below) may not be as tough as we often think we are. The fact that we see violence on a massive scale, or that we read in books harrowing accounts of unimaginable cruelty is in itself insufficient to describe the horror of what these accounts will be if we are to pass through it. We are a different generation of Nigerians.
Even the tools we use to solve conflicts are different. Whereas Google, Goal.com, Wikipedia and a host of other non-violent weapons in our arsenal are being utilized by this generation to solve even occasionally fundamental disagreements, for the previous, this isn’t so. The older generation, especially those in power have seen coups and fought wars, and are largely a composition of military minds that see it all as a thing of strategy and end games. It is almost as if we have forgotten that our current class of politicians live in a different world, and this is not because of how they think or how much they earn. It is simply an issue of the times.
A majority of the people(especially in the older cadre) who are at the helm of affairs in the country; irrespective of the political party, ethnic group, or religious affiliations that they belong have no doubt made it clear to us that they don’t know what they are doing. We kept thinking that they did, even followed them for a long while given that they always have been at the helm of affairs. But they clearly don’t. The political elite have missed the mark. If you think that they have not, then how is it that they are yet to come to the realization that unlike the politics of the past Nigeria can no longer take a Do-Or-Die approach at elections? That we cannot use our religious views to tag certain people as evil or pray for development to take place. That the stakes are now too high, and that we are now a fully diversified country with the resources to re-shape not ourselves alone, but Africa in the larger sense.
If at the current pace of political, ethnic and religious tensions(being currently championed by the older generation) war breaks out in Nigeria, have you asked yourself where you will be? Do you, like those politicians whose views you radically support have a house or a business outside the shores of this country? Have you asked what will become of your dreams and aspirations, your friends and family? If anything, one thing that can be guaranteed is that should the current events in Nigeria spiral out of control, it will not be good. Not for anyone. But it would be worse for the common-place Nigerian.
It is no longer a North and South battle. It is no longer Communism versus Capitalism. Hitler, Lenin, Karl Max, Idi Amin Dada and those who were the heroes and villains of the previous generation are no more. We now look to new people. People like Steve Jobs, people like Dangote, systems that allow the rise of the likes of Obama, institutions that support the dreams of Nigerians like Chimamanda and the spirit of free enterprise that places in the league of the wealthiest men in the world a young chap like Zuckerberg, these are the new world standards.
We want to look at our power problems without thinking it’s a spiritual one. We want to look at our constitution as a system that requires consistent up-grading. We want to allow the thriving of private enterprise and a legal system that works. We want to recognize that there’s a place in society for the arts and introduce psychology and counselling as necessities to our schools, but here’s the problem? We have left all these desires in the hands of those who have no idea what that even is.
What do you feel when you see a mass burial?, when you see dead bodies, beggars and cripples on the road? Whatever you feel, I believe that you and I know, you are not the cause of it. It is a product of the lack of foresight of those charged to make sure these things don’t happen. It is a failure of the older generation.
You can describe the country however you want it. You can call it a product of a huge British experiment. You will not be the first to do that. However you want to see it, we are humans, people who need food, clothing and shelter. People who want quality medical care and institutions that provide services that we need. It does not matter whether we were forged from the ashes of colonialism, we are here now, and we want to move forward.
We have to however leave the older generation behind. We can, and given the right amount of will, it will be achieved. The current class of politicians are a shameful bunch. The likes of people who have allowed the country to maintain its attitude of rivalry in political factions, never ending religious tensions, corruption induced under-development, and kept the levels of poverty and un-employment at frightening levels. They have failed us.
Oh, am sorry. They didn’t. It is the new generation which has failed to act. It is they who have failed Nigeria.