NIGERIA @ 100: THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES STANDING BEFORE OUR YOUTHS
Each time I talk about Nigeria celebrating 100 years of nationhood in most youth organizations, the response I usually get from my fellow youths is “ how come we are celebrating Nigeria at 100 when we just finished celebrating Nigeria at 50 in 2010”? This display of ignorance shows the lack of adequate awareness and publicity the great event is yet to enjoy across the spectrum. It also reveals the disconnection between our past and our future in the minds of some of our youths. If it is only the elites and the functionally literate Nigerians that knows the difference between celebrating Nigeria at 100 and the past celebration of Nigeria at 50, it then means that, the Centenary Committee still have a lot of works to do!
However, celebrating Nigeria at 100 means that, we are celebrating the symbolic and the historic amalgamation of the northern and the southern protectorate by the then Governor-General, Sir Frederick Lord Lugard in 1914. It was this amalgamation that secured a place for us on the map of the world, thereby, giving us the password to be known and addressed as a nation-state. Hence, from the 1st of January 1914 to the 1st of January 2014, if you calculate it right, it will give you 100. This is why we are celebrating Nigeria at 100. In the other hand, the previous celebration where we celebrated Nigeria at 50 in 2010 was simply an independence anniversary celebration. It will be recalled that Nigeria got her independence from the Great Britain on 1st October 1960. So, these are two different great events worth celebrating in our country! While the similarity is that, there both took place on the 1st day of their respective months; the difference is nationhood and independence.
Nonetheless, the youths of this century have failed to learn the great lessons of history which Nigeria is richly blessed with! In fact, history has shown that, most of the events that shaped the destiny of Nigeria were influenced by our heroes during their youthful ages. For example, late Chief Anthony Enahoro became the first Nigerian to move the motion for self-determination during his youthful age in 1953. Late Margaret Ekpo led the popular Aba women riot of 1929 in her youthful age. General Yakubu Gowon, a man I described as the “Living legend” led Nigeria through the civil war and kept us united and one indivisible and indissoluble nation during his youthful age. They are numerous Nigerians who made us proud during their youthful ages! One of the factors that always make me to respect and hold them in high esteem is that, they were able to accomplish those great feet during their youthful ages; a time they had no access to the telephone (GSM) and the information super high way, the internet which has made life easier and every struggle simple, yet, they were still able to achieve their set goals.
Similarly, in Africa, it is the prayer of every father that his or her daughter will see and accomplish greater things than himself. But, the reality, I'm sorry to say this, is far- fetched from the expectations of the axiomatic prayer of our African fathers. This is because; we have a generation of youths who love pleasure than work, who love success than efforts and who love rights than responsibilities. The invidious one fast evolving in the country now is “Big man piking mentality”.
Furthermore, everybody wants' to become Good Luck Jonathan, Barrack Obama and Nelson Mandela but, nobody wants' to persevere through the hard times, nobody wants' to go to school without shoes, nobody wants' to grow up without the firm anchor of his parents and nobody wants' “The Long Walk to Freedom”. This is why some prefer to be used as “protocol comforters” to respecting themselves in a more dignifying way. The truth is that, hard times are everywhere! But, it is our ability and resolves to endure to the last that makes us great young men and women of substance! The worst of it all is that, most of our youths don't want to hear the truth anymore. In fact, a pastor once told me that, why they use motivation and psychology on some of our youths is because, if you tell them the truth, they will run away from participating in the religious activities. This is however not suggesting that all Nigerian Youths are like that! We have thousand of Nigerian youths including myself who are doing the nation proud in our different ways of orientation and learning. Therefore, for every youth that indulge in prostitution, terrorism, kidnapping, militancy and armed robbery, they are tens of thousands of our youths out there working seriously to make the country better than they met it. Any young Nigerian reading this article knows where he or she belongs! And if your conscience tells' you that you are on the wrong side of Nigeria's fast evolving history, why don't you change?
Nigeria at 100 comes with many opportunities for the youths! The youths who are on the right side of history will be the drivers of Nigeria in the next 100 years. They will be the captains of industry, the Chief Executive Officers, the Ministers, Senators, administrators, civil servants and leaders of Nigeria in various fields in the next 100 years whose journey had just started from the first of January 2014. Like the Holy Bible said in Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”.
The journey that will redefine and shape the destiny of Nigeria in the next 100 years has just begun; any young man or woman who wants' to feature in the future of Nigeria should start imagining the picture of the country in his or her heart now, and not the direct opposite.
Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara is a young Nigerian Activist and Public Affairs Commentator.
He is also the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.
Reach him on 07065862479, 08076134054
Temporarily writing from No.9, Mgbi Road, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State