WHEN WE SURRENDER THE SOCIAL SPACE TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIAN STUDENTS AND THE NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL, WE END UP WITH POLITICISED, EVEN MILITARISED LANGUAGE COMPLETE WITH SOUND AND FURY. WE BECOME LIKE OUR FATHERS, MOUTHING CLICHES AND RHETORIC THAT CANNOT BE
CONSTRUCTIVE IN PROBLEM SOLVING.. AS EVERYONE FROM THE LEADERSHIP OF THE YOUTH COUNCIL TO DIMEJI BANKOLE HAS TAUGHT US, NIGERIA WILL NOT BE DIFFERENT JUST BECAUSE THE AGES OF THOSE IN POWER SUDDENLY CHANGE.
– Chude Jideonwo.
On Monday’s episode of SUNRISE DAILY, Channels Tv’s breakfast show, Ugo Ikenga, one of the factional Presidents of the moribund National Youth Council, came on as a guest to discuss a wide range of issues from the statutory mission and vision of the council to the plethora of problems facing it, of which
unending power tussle is king. Not surprisingly, the guest was more interested in discussing the assiduous battle for who legitimately owns the title of President of the council and disparaging the other faction’s leader, Henry Nwabueze, than he was of informing viewers about the plans of the council for the 64 million young persons it was created for.
So how did it get to the point where the exact scenarios of factional bickering that play out in highly fractious organisations run by our fathers like the Nigeria Labour Congress [NLC], the National Assembly, and Political parties, have started to rear its ugly head in the midst of individuals who tout themselves as a complete break from the norm? How did we get to the point where what should logically matter to us as youths is constantly being sacrificed on the altar of selfish aggrandizement and greed by people who claim to represent our demography? These are some questions begging for answers.
Everywhere you turn to, especially on social media where we rule, there is a young person clamouring for greater inclusion in the running of government, for the extinction and even annihilation of recycled and old politicians, for a greater percentage of representation in the national discussion, for change. But as Chude Jideonwo posits in his book, Are We The Turning Point Generation, “what arrogance to think that we are better than those presently in leadership just because we were born in a different generation.” He continues, “you can look at young people around you, those in government, those in the opposition, those who are critics, and sadly not see much difference from the past. Essentially by observation and interaction, we have become like those fathers.”
We have become like those fathers who called us incapable of leading the country to justify their ineptitude at ruling. We have become like those fathers aptly tagged ‘the failed generation’. We have become like members of our legislative arm notorious for its often rancorous and acrimonious debate and tussle for who heads and gets what, when and how, rather than face real legislative duties, the real reason we elected them into power. Or like the comrades of the NLC, the once formidable last bastion of hope for the Nigerian worker which is losing its steam daily, thanks to internal contention. Or how do you explain a situation where, ‘the National Association of Nigerian Students’ leaders do not have any cause that they are pursuing, never criticize the government or demonstrate, except to follow politicians up and down for financial gains”, to quote Chambers Umezulike.
The reasons are not far fetched. In an organization where leaders have access to a deep pool of cash, thanks to both federal and state governments, given convoys and police escorts, cars with government plate numbers, and other political patronages that comes with being labelled NANS or NYC President, it’s only natural that the battle of supremacy for who emerges leader is fraught with all manner of violence to the point of contenders employing cohesive machineries of the state like the Police and DSS, as is the case with the current NYC squabble, to get the other side to back down, and court judgements disregarded and thrown out of the window.
To conclude with a call to action, let me employ the words of Chude Jideonwo once more. “It’s time for you and I to find ways to join and change the ongoing conversation about what our desires as young people should be. Because if those who claim to speak for you continue to demand only their own piece of patronage, then we’re all just riding full speed towards the wrong destination. And this is why you cannot afford to be unconcerned with what other young people are doing and saying on your behalf.”
HARRI OBI is a young broadcaster
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