Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Nigeria: Enough is Enough

One generation ago

I remember some 27 years ago as a student of Yaba College of Technology donning my large wearable front and back poster challenging the priorities of our then President Shehu Shagari at Tafawa Balewa Square.

The night before, the tallest building in Nigeria then, the NITEL tower had been destroyed by fire and the president did not see that significant enough to cancel his trip to India to receive an honorary doctorate degree just when our education ministry downgraded Indian doctoral degrees to the equivalent of Nigerian masters degrees.

The country was in drift, within the grip of a rampaging political mismanagement under the ruling National Party of Nigeria no different from what we now have with the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

The chief does the beat

What was most significant about our protest then as I recall it was to see the Inspector General of Police, Sunday Adewusi, himself get on the Student’s Union bus and beat student’s off the bus with his own truncheon.

If we could draw out the Nigerian chief of police into that hands-on activity of “protest abatement” we were a significant enough constituency and nuisance for the government to take note.

When I returned home after our school was closed I had a conversation with my father about our protest and the demands for better leadership in Nigeria, this is the advice he gave me and it still bothers me till today.

There was a time when Nigeria was worth dying for, that time has passed” That was in 1983.

From that time, I have really wondered if all the blood shed in the quest for a better Nigeria has really been worth it all, I do hope that – the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain – as our national anthem states, but do we really have that as a resolution?

The youth today

Next week, on Tuesday, the 16th of March 2010, one generation on from mine, the youth of Nigeria are gathering under the banner of Enough Is Enough [1] at the National Assembly asking three pertinent questions.

  • Where is our president?
  • Where is the promise of 6000MW?
  • Why is there still fuel scarcity?

All those questions are important and significant for the purpose of highlighting the fact that the questions require good answers, to show that there are galvanising issues that Nigerians can espouse and that the young constitute a significant constituency in Nigeria that needs to be recognised especially by our political leadership.

The right actions?

The call to protest is very commendable and laudable, I am however not sure that the questions are the right questions for this time.

Whilst the as it were substantive president is lain comatose and out of sight we have an acting President who exercises authority in that office despite the lurking ghost of his boss in the background – Goodluck Jonathan needs support, he does not need reminding that Umaru Yar’Adua excites public passions he can hardly excite to show himself to the public.

The promise of 6,000 MW of electrical power would never be fulfilled without an active youth with the expertise and ability to move into those institutions, establishments and industries that manage the resources to produce the results we require.

Let the youthful engineers and managers step forward to man the oil, gas, wind, solar, hydro and hybrid energy resources that can make the promise true, that goal would never be achieved with what we have now and that is why it is not there – the challenge is clearly not met with the rabble of protest.

Indeed, it is absurd that a country that has petroleum as an exportable natural resource should suffer fuel scarcity; it is simply ridiculous and untenable.

A more effective protest

However, it presents another opportunity for the youth in relation to the views I have expressed regarding power, beyond the atrocious market forces, selfish interests of oil merchants and the troubles in the Niger Delta to come up with great ideas and abilities to realise the best of Nigeria’s resources.

In fact, as the future belongs to our youth, there is the hope that they might with protest hold our leadership responsible, with their proactive actions they might even make leadership accountable but with answers they are well on the way to assuming leadership and shaping Nigeria in image they have dreamt Nigeria could be.

Questions do require answers but a youth with answers that move beyond the answers to reactive questions are ready to take on the mantle of leadership from those who have mismanaged our great country.

Then, I believe we would have arrived at the point where Enough Is Enough of what we have had and we cannot get enough of the Good Nigerian our youth represent and act out to build a Great Nation.

God guide our youth and God bless Nigeria.

Sources

[1] Where is Yar'Adua? The youth of Nigeria say… Enough is Enough » About

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