Former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently let loose an outburst on the youth of this country. He was quoted to have said that the young have failed Nigeria, citing as examples Ibori, Alamiaseyegha, Igbinedion and other persons of such ilk.
Have the young really failed Nigeria? A critical examination of the facts would show otherwise. Nigeria certainly did not come to this state because of the antics of aforementioned trio, though this must not be construed to mean I support their actions. The corruption and nepotism that has come to characterize our national life was actively propagated and perpetuated by the Obasanjos and their peers. The right foundation was never laid at independence while the advent of military rule brought unmitigated disaster on this nation.
Policies such as the quota system, which denies merit and promotes mediocrity where instituted during this era, effectively stifling innovation and competition. A cursory look at the lives of most retired top civil servants, generals and presidents would show them to be wealthy beyond their means. They still play very active roles in our polity and have become godfathers and chieftains of political parties, even though they possess no democratic credentials. On the average, they are septuagenarians or older.
It is rather curious therefore that the ex-president would choose to throw such salvo at the youths of the nation. If those who benefited from free education and oil money are champions of ethnic jingoism and corrosive corruption, what right do they have to accuse those who have had to struggle for every crumb and morsel that has come their way?
And the crux of the matter is that even if the youths had failed this nation, such failure must be laid squarely at the door step of the older generation. The maxim that says you cannot give what you don’t have does not lie. A child weaned under this system, which promotes every vice known to man, would have no values to uphold. It is thus what we have been taught and the example before us that we are aping.
If the right foundations were laid and right values and principles part of our national ethos, the youth would have imbibed such principles and followed the path of honour. But when we grow up seeing kleptomaniacs, despots, vicious and visionless individuals as leaders at all levels, the result is what we see today. There are too few role models in our society for the young to emulate. In fact, rather than blaming the youths, the older generation should hide their heads in shame and beg for forgiveness, which more respectable and responsible gentlemen like Prof Bolaji Akinyemi have done.
However there’s enough of the blame game and the stark reality of our situation should not make us travel down that road. Rather than trading accusations, we should be focused on how we can find lasting solutions to our problems. The issues before us now are not who did what, but who has the intelligence, passion, vision and courage to tackle the myriad problems confronting us. As we approach 2015, that’s the question that should be uppermost our minds. And persons who largely failed this country must not be allowed to distract us or draw attention away from more pressing national issues.
Piece written by Oke Okpomo
Okpomoy2k@yahoo.com Follow him on twitter@kpomskerio