Attempting Interpretation of IBB’s critique on the youth

By Muhammad Ajah

Some unconscious critics have raised their hammers against the presidential bid of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on several grounds one of the recent being his comments on the inability of the Nigerian youths to handle the complexity in the nation building. IBB has been heavily criticized for undermining the powers of the Nigerian youth to lead the nation.

From the onset, let it be made clear that this article is not in defense of IBB nor in support of the youth. It is mere attempt to keep the truth abreast and charge Nigerians to allow good governance take its natural course in the country. Whatever anybody can preach for the betterment and development of Nigeria can only fall in the leaves of books and unfortunately deaf ears, because majority of Nigerians have not agreed to change the country. Even the minority that has always stood their grounds in defense of the nation often eat their words and swagger in the face of little hard threats and conditions.

However, it may be hard to prove otherwise the General's assertion for some reasons. There was an article of this writer which was published in many national dailies and international websites in November 2009. It was titled “Nigerian youths and the challenges of nation building”. In assessing our youths in this regard, the quarrel should be in the choice of word. It is either our youths have no ability or they are incapacitated to paddle the canoe of leadership in the country. Whichever way we may attempt twisting the words, a sincere assessment of our youths – most of them – would jeopardize unreserved encomiums for the exempted few who have really excelled in different fields of human endeavour.

Yes, one who has been monitoring the development of our youths would not fail in an argument that the majority of our youths have proved to be proponents of societal evils. Their actions and inactions have been largely part of the problems in the country. Let us cite few examples where our youths have proved themselves to be off track where they are supposed to be the strength of the nation.

One: Niger Delta has of recent been a haven for militants and criminals. All sorts of criminality including kidnapping, raping, sabotaging of state and national interests, destruction of economic assets, killing and maiming of innocent citizens, to mention few, were perpetrated by the youths. Even if it is latently believed that some powerful politicians were behind certain aspects of the whole show, it was the youths who executed the acts and allowed themselves to be used.

Two: Political assassinations that can never be traced have ravaged the country and cases have been recorded. Some of the persons arrested or who are often forwarded to confess and accept responsibility for the heinous acts by the powerful yet unknown persons are always the youths. Cases are still in some courts and the accused are not the old people.

Three: Armed robbery is just like a free game that some young Nigerians have adopted as part of their lives. There can be no arguing the fact that the most deadly armed robbery cases are always carried out by even teenagers who do not have value for life. One can confirm this by assessing public drivers of old and young ages. Old people, especially the married, feel more responsible to life itself and to the society they live, than the young ones. And undoubtedly, their influence in any society is far-reaching than the young.

Four: A recent episode is the killings in Jos and all religious and civil disturbances the country has witnessed. The old may cause it, but the young take it to the extreme. Extremism in any thing has never yielded non-violent results.

Five: Electoral frauds have characterized our elections even at family levels. The so-much talked about electoral reform will only work if the youths allow it. Our politicians have misused the youths because the youths allow it. Snatching and stuffing of ballot boxes, violent campaigns, political processions and protests are staged largely by the youths.

Therefore, IBB's words have been repeated severally in different ways by other Nigerians who wish well for the youths. It is a hard truth that only a good friend can tell his companions. IBB, as it is, may mean well for the youths as his words have posed a challenge for them to reshape their style of life in order to better the country. It is unimaginable that one who assisted the growth of the Nigerian youths when he was the President of the country would let them down.

Let the youths brace up to the challenge and ensure that a change is effected in the leadership of the country. If the youths want a youth-president, who can stop them?

Muhammad Ajah, a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance writes from Abuja ([email protected] uk)