Anosi Imhoitsike: The Nigerian youth – Water, blood and everything in between (30 Days, 30 Voices)

by Anosi Imhoitsike

Anosike

It would be like the Arab Spring, where people set themselves on fire, scream “Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam!”

I remember being added to an online group that had a mandate of recruiting twenty million youths to come together to fight for their rightful position in leadership, inclusion in the running of the of the government and to oust the tyranny of recycled leadership. Although, this mandate is not peculiar to this group alone, it is the burning desire of young people all over the country who pine for better governance- I stand corrected. I was excited at first, but then I went through some of the comments made on that page and I realized the sad truth- we are not ready.

You cannot wash another person’s hands clean, if your own hands are filthy.

The United Nations has released a report saying Nigeria’s unemployment rate has increased in the last two years under Mr. Jonathan’s watch, from 21.1 per cent in 2010 to 23.9 per cent.

The report shows that about one in four Nigerians are currently unemployed. Nigeria also has one of the worst youth unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa, at 37.7 per cent – which means two in five Nigerian youth are unemployed. – The Premium times, September 13, 2012

Every day the vagaries of governance and the economy knocks the optimism and enthusiasm right out of you, far worse than a Mike Tyson-Samuel Peters punch combined, but it would be a crime to let the count get to ten before getting up.  Truth is, there will always be someone who is unemployed no matter how hard the government tries to eradicate unemployment, because someone is not looking…at their hands.

What do you have in your hands?

You cannot bring about a revolution without a re-orientation, or else, there will avoidable casualties and the result will be futile, and even if the goal in mind is achieved, the regrets will far outweigh the joys. Imagine millions of youths protesting for good governance, involvement of the youth in governance, infrastructure et al, and then in the process, some corrupt politician doles out huge sums of money and the unemployed youth turns his back on the people who he initially had the same cause with.

We don’t want to have another Syria or Aleppo, or even riot in Ephesus, as it was in the days of apostle Paul when people  were shouting in the theater and some of them didn’t even know why or what they were there for (Acts 19:32). It would be like the Arab Spring, where people set themselves on fire, scream “Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam!”, only that this time, some enthusiastically foolish youth would do so; without even knowing the exact cause been fought for.

Connect… connect… connect

Funmi Iyanda asked a group of young people some years back what they would do if they ever got into power and a large number of them said they would loot over and over again.  I also heard from a reliable source that an official of a reputable student union government said the same thing too.

That is the way they have been told to live, that is the way they choose to survive. Show to a people, one thing over and over again, and that is who they will become. Idle hands litter everywhere, but idle minds are scarce. Its either you are thinking of something good or bad.

You cannot have a developed nation, with handicapped minds, street urchins, touts, young women whose only hope of a bright future is marrying and having babies for ‘Orisha’, the petty thief and garage tout, who in turn is hoping to secure a ‘honorebu’ position in the forth-coming election. He forgets that by the time the shards of glass, bullets and the severance of the knife allows the gates of blood to open, his blood would be no worse than a pattern on the poorly-tarred road when the sun shines on the ground.

It is sad to see that, even some graduates are worse than some people who didn’t go further than obtaining a primary school leaving certificate, yet articulate better.  A good number, even think education is a closed loop and they get caught in it. Someone said that if you threw a stone in a Nigerian crowd, it would likely hit the head of a PhD.

Empower…empower…empower

If we want a great country, young people must first be empowered. By empowerment, I am not just talking about YouWin or the Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS) which even though, limited as it is in its reach, I applaud but I am referring to one-on-one connection with young people with the little means you have. I have a passion for kids, when I can afford it; I buy second- hand books for my neighbor’s children and ensure their parents encourage the reading culture to them. If we keep clamoring for a government with a cabinet of young, vibrant minds and our youngsters sit in circles arguing about which of them would buy the latest Ferrari, with their yahoo-yahoo latest ‘hammer’ so that they can outdo D’banj and P’square, then catching the wind would be a much easier task.

If an opportunity came for a revolution, one thing is guaranteed- bloodshed. Avoidable and unnecessary bloodshed carried out by some people who don’t even know why the revolution began or  maybe what a revolution is. During the Occupy Nigeria protest, some young people joined the procession simply because their ‘youthful viagrance’ had to be employed one way or the other. I saw people on a queue buying very small, half fresh tomatoes at exorbitant prices. I abhor a re-occurrence of starvation caused by a dispute between two irate and obstinate parties. I never, ever want to tell my children about my firsthand experience of tales of woe and war just like my mother’s.

The thought of writing this article came when I was terribly ill from an endemic that has been difficult to eradicate in Africa – malaria. As I managed to get up and type, my joints screamed uttering incoherent curse words at my attempt to move, my eyes burning from the slightest ray of daylight, as I went through all this…I remembered my country. With every tribe fighting against the progress of the nation over issues like zoning etc, and her eyes and body burning from the sporadic bombings up north, she is pulled back into her sick bed, helpless and weak. Her only cure is hope that her youth will one day – in unity – look in their hand and smile that the marks left by the shards of honest hard work and the congealed blood in them, are those of people who have built walls with one hand and held swords with the other.

No matter how dry and withered a plant is, at the scent of water it will bud again.

Great Nigerian Youths: We are that Water.

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Anosi Imhoitsike is an optimistic and fun-loving young lady. An aspiring novelist, playwright and fashionista. Some say she is hilarious, but she gets a kick from listening to, and learning from cerebral people. A fair-weather football club fan, so you know she seldom supports Arsenal. She has been forced to pamper her hair by very random people who admire it. She is indifferent about it. A Learner at the feet of the Master and a lover of all kinds of chemistry.

30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians from across the world to share their stories and experiences – creating a meeting point where our common humanity is explored.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. Beautiful write up, well presented and i like the dramatical way with which she tells her story, i can almost picture everyword even though its not a novel.
    Having said that, the facts she pointed out are very true, a lot of Nigerian youths are idle and there’s this really thick ‘survive anyhow’ mentality that has eaten deep into them. A lot of them would loot and even run off with your money if given the slightest chance. See whats happenning in our SUGs for example, i learnt of fellow who ran off and left school because of a miserable N500 000 he was opportuned 2 come across as a SUG official.
    Our youths need a paradigm shift, how that would happen i don’t know.

  2. Nice one girl,I was actually in that 20millionyouths and like u said,we are really really not ready! Pls, next time drop maybe ur email or twitter acct,so we can reach u.tnx

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