By Charles Adeyemi
One of the easiest ways to lose the on-going battle to save the soul of Nigeria is via the idealistic fratricide that breaks out occasionally, amongst the fast emerging young generation of leaders in Nigeria whereby some young leaders opine that when it comes to nation building prospects, the youths will make worse leaders while other youth leaders disagree.
A popular reference point is the often publicized and rightly condemned intermittent fracas amongst student union leaders who physically attack one another. Those easily make sensational headlines as perhaps, another way to show that “the youths are indeed useless”and unfit to lead. On a closer examination however, one can readily recognize that such squabbles are actually part of the anomie that fresh young leaders are emerging to change.
Such fracas are aberrations, they are either part of the criminal heritage that have been handed down by the older generation of leaders or they are part of the outcomes of the criminal neglect to which the older generation have treated the youths who are now coming of age. Whatever the case may be, squarely putting the blame on the youths themselves, amounts to blaming the victim and that can`t be right.
There are too many wonderful things going on with young Nigerians today, that the world deserve to know more about, than the breaking of bottle and stabbing of one another, by quarreling youths who are mistaken for youth leaders. No one should pay heed to such young mis-leaders who are being groomed by the older generation of mis-leaders, to carry on a corrupt heritage. Pay attention, let nothing distract your focus and you will soon recognize that the best of Nigerian leaders are young and emerging and they stand apart from that lost lot.
The most creative black people (young or old) on earth today are Nigerians. From technology to education, young Nigerians have been breaking the records and are still breaking records. It just happens that over the years, these young professionals brains are constantly drained towards building western countries. They had never considered the option (at least not in large numbers) of engaging Nigerian politics. This is the miracle that is happening today with various initiatives where for the first time, really brilliant young professionals from various fields are trying to fix their country by themselves, instead of simply running abroad.
Even the ones already abroad, are for the first time participating actively in influencing the local polity, via technology. From #NotTooYoungToRun to Restructure Nigeria group to the Federalist Movement of Nigeria and the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party e.t.c. These organic initiatives led by brilliant young minds are emerging to bring lasting solutions.
Young leaders and opinion molders should reconsider the plethora of articles, speeches, podcasts and other opinions being expressedand shared and re-sharedonline and offline to mock and attack initiatives such as the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party, #NotTooYoungToRun campaign, Restructure Nigeria Group, Federalist Movement of Nigeria e.t.c
Constructive criticism that can help to build the conversation and resolve identified weaknesses are always welcome. Such criticism had led to the birth of the #18isEnough campaign for instance. However, destructive criticism of the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign and other brilliant ideas that are being articulated and promoted by divergent groups, seeking a solution to Nigeria`s myriad problems cannot help even the critic. Be it the calls for restructuring or true federalism, the formation of a new political party and particularly the #NotTooYoungToRun campaign,these efforts have attracted more than a fair share of verbiagefrom those who ought to join in to make the respective campaigns a success, to their own advantage. While each of these unique platforms have individual strengths and weaknesses, they are actually complementary and one is the solution to the weakness of the other. If and when we finally decide to drop selfish ego`s and work together as we must, to fix this country, we will see how this all fits together.
If after all the hue and cry, a younger generation of really brilliant leaders emerges in Nigeria but with a rather poor sense of working together, that will be some real tragedy.
Rigidity only leads to breakages. There is more strength in flexibility, cooperation and collaboration. The new generation of leaders emerging in Nigeria will have to work and walk together across a broad range of issues and ideological differences if this country must work.
Attacking one another’s initiatives cannot be one of the solutions to the myriad problems of Nigeria. Working together with the other, to improve the supposed weaknesses of respective initiatives is more in order. If we say that the differences between such initiatives that seek for a better Nigeria are so irreconcilable that one must necessarily condemn and pull the other down, then how can it be that we think we will ever be able to reconcile the socio-cultural differences that are tearing Nigeria apart?
We need to learn that pulling other peoples initiatives down, is not part of promoting ours. Instead, we let people down and widen the gulf where we should be bridging the gap. This country is too deeply mired for those of us ordinary citizens, trying to fix her to still think we can afford the luxury of disparaging one another’s efforts at bringing solutions. When you see the next person doing something with the motive of fixing this country, do not condemn those efforts even if they seem imperfect. Encourage them and help them smoothen out the rough edges. They are efforts, noble efforts. What they need is support, cooperation and collaboration not condemnation.
Charles Adeyemi writes from Akure