I am first and foremost a Nigerian child. Then I am a depressed Nigerian youths. Depression obviously has its several roots: it is the doubtful protection which comes from not recognizing failure. It is the psychic burden of exhaustion, and also and very often, that discipline of the will or the ego which enables one to continue fighting, continue working, when one’s un-admitted emotion is in panic.
And panic, it is, I think, which sits as the largest single sentiment in the heart of the collective members of my own generation. Today, I find myself in an overwhelmingly urban society, a distinctly urban creature. Thus, I am adequately informed of current developments in my country. I am anxious, angry, humorless, suspicious of my own society, apprehensive with relation to the future of my own country. Quixotic, yet optimistic, I am on the prowl for the immediate and remote causes of our national predicament. My nostrils fairly quiver for the stench of some injustice I can sally forth to condemn.
Devoid of any feeling for the real delineation of function and responsibility, I find all the ills of my country, real or fancied, pressing on my conscience. Not lacking in courage, I am prepared, in fact, to charge any number of windmills.
But in doing so, I am often aggressive and unapologetically critical of my own society, critical of what I need to live by, critical sometimes of God’s own choice of creating me a Nigerian. You may wish to call me names. But do not call me a crank or an eccentric. For, on a very rough and ready basis, you may well see an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others, like some dictator of many a black nation. What makes me this way? Certain of the causes are external, temporary and relatively superficial. Certain are religious, ideological and tribal.
I do not intend to mention the devastatingly unsettling effects of the military on the politics, the economy and the overall destiny of my country, Nigeria . Yet, underlying the very intensity with which I react to these things, there are obviously far deeper and largely subconscious sources of discomfort to other members of my forlorn generation as well. But there is a sense in which my anxiety is further aggravated by the current conspiracy of silence among the youth in my country. And, of course, there is a disconcerting irony involved here. Our silence has developed into a commodity market. I am therefore compelled to ask: can’t we reflect faithfully, but in expanded, over-sized dimensions, like shadows on the wall, the bewilderment and weaknesses of parents, teachers, politicians, molders of opinion, leaders of government, captains of industries?
I come from a nation that is affluent yet the people poor and insecure. I sense in our rulers (looters), and they feel in themselves, the material satiety of power without the balancing influence of any inner security. Imagination, fears, hopes, desires, all these are overstimulated, and hopelessly stimulated by daily events in my country. Our nation is under siege, for we have long compounded our crisis point. Hence, there are no adequate countervailing sources of strength, confidence and hope for the Nigerian youths. There is no strong and coherent religious faith, no firm foundation of instruction in the nature of the individual man, no appreciation for the element of tragedy that unavoidably constitutes a central component of the Nigerian predicament, and no understanding for the resulting limitations on the possibilities for social and political change.
The Nigerian youths are victims of the appalling shallowness, of the crooked religious, philosophic and political concepts that pervade his society. Social evolution demands that the youth have the sociological right and responsibility to inherit, improve and transmit worth-while characteristics and values that would enhance and sustain social development and security so that generation after generation would aspire to better things. Yet, unfortunately, the present day Nigerian youth is evidently and sadly over-weighted with short comings and disabilities- evidences of undesirable heritage.
The average Nigerian youth of today has not inherited enviable moral discipline which is the foundation of true citizenship whether we operate at the family, village, ward, local government, state or national level. Regrettably, we are all witnesses of the fact that we are today living in a dangerously threatened country. We are viciously confronted with a peculiar but violent and rapacious enemy-the old generation which does not want to grow old-the evil past which wishes to dominate the present and usurp the future.
We are here languishing in a ready-made and almost imported society of falsehood and propaganda, of want, hate, insecurity, conflicts, injustices, frustrations, vaulting and ungodly ambitions, corruption, stupid materialism, political anarchy and jingoism, wars and advanced cannibalism, man-made catastrophe and delusion. The youth must sincerely reflect on the background and heritage with which we are armed to face the patriotic challenges of the twenty-first century, a role which we do not even understand not to talk of commitment to it. Much of the savagery enveloping Nigeria today could be explained in the greed and base conduct inherent in the characters of our elders. Look at how they insist on being glued on to power even when they know that age is not on their side! We must fight for the real change, not the cosmetic sloganeering of a change which has offered death to the people as a result.
At this giddy moment when our country seems to have set on a batty course of self-destruction, Nigerian youths must come together and cut a deal and to react to this umbrage. We must not only reject any attempt by those who stole our national patrimony into their private pockets to use us as pawns to destabilize our country; we must hunt them down anywhere they are found. We must insist that all the expired war-lords and looters intent on further wasting the youths in another civil war to massage their fangled ambitions and maladroit hues are given the Jerry Rawlings treatment and their looted wealth retrieved. We must stop allowing ourselves to be used as agents of destruction by these shameless and sadistic pretenders who have brought us to this state of arrested development.
There is a need for the youth to confer hope on this despondent nation to demonstrate a common political savvy irrespective of our tribe or religion. Nigerian youths who constitute over 60 per cent of the electorate must spare the nation the ghoulish stare of insecurity and civil war in our country by resisting any attempt by the political class to once more push us into the abyss. Real liberation will come when we refuse to be manipulated by ambitious self-seeking politicians. In 2019, all Nigerian youths must unite irrespective of party affiliations and work hard to change the game of politics in our country. The Nigerian youths must take over the Villa and the National Assembly if the country must be extricated from this maze of social conflicts.
By Dan Amor
*Mr. Amor, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja