by ‘Demola Adesina
A few months ago, twenty-six-year old Mohammed Bouazizi, unemployed even after a university education decided to sell fruits and vegetables on the street without a license. Law enforcement agents stopped him and seized his produce, he set himself on fire. Following Bouazizi’s example, another jobless man in the same province climbed an electric pole, screamed: “no to misery; no to unemployment” and electrocuted himself. Flared by the incidences, Tunisians stood up in protest against the regime of Ben Ali, who came to power in 1987 by declaring former President Bourguiba ‘unfit for office’.
In Egypt, January 25 was tagged the ‘Day of Revolt’ where tens of thousands of people, inspired by the Tunisian example, came out protesting against the Mubarak government. Interestingly, the next day, the government shut down the internet, as ordinary Egyptians had been mobilising for the debate through Facebook and Twitter.
The Al Khalifa hereditary family invaded Bahrain in 1783 and since then imposed a unique draconian rule on the country. February 14 marked the 9th anniversary of the repeal of the country’s attempt constitutional governance. Tagging this day “The Day of Rage”, the youths launched protests against the Al Khalifa invaders.
Stuck in between Egypt and Tunisia, Libyans felt it was time to force dictator Gadaffi out of power. Their struggle against their ‘Brother Leader’ has made the dear ‘King of Kings’ and his family lose control of the state, slowly but surely.
Like these countries, Nigerians are bedevilled by a leadership that chooses to remain constantly irresponsible to the people. Peaceful democracy it may be, our government still manage the country like it is their personal property.
Like these countries, the youths have constantly been neglected and they in turn have directed their energies into other channels. Perhaps, we have not experienced that one extra straw that figuratively breaks the camel’s back. Possibly, that straw might just be landing on the camel’s back.
Last night, President Goodluck Jonathan was interviewed by ‘a representative of the youths’. Musician Dbanj, who until now was not even considered a socially conscious act, conducted a thirty minutes interview that sounded more like a drowsy man talking to his ass-licking, head-bowing stooge.
It is not just this show of shame that bothers us.
We are concerned that the President has chosen to ignore all invitations to debate – To talk about his rationale for seeking elections. After all, it is not as if we ever voted him based on a manifesto. Yet, this man can talk to D’banj about how he intends to bring in Nigerians in country ‘diaspora’ to govern our educational system and have the HOD report to the Minister of Education why a student will not graduate.
We are irked because the President chose to ignore a debate, a rational discussion, organised by a youth coalition and instead paid for a free concert. I can almost hear his voice in my head: “Oh! What do you people know about governance and reasoning: Abeg, go and sing and dance, jare”. Classic example of thinking he can choose to be irresponsible to the average young Nigerian!
Unfortunately for him, we refuse to be distracted.
A total of 67 million Nigerians registered to vote in the forthcoming election as against 35million in 2007. 70% of these people are youths under the age of 35. We, the youths, decide who rule this country because we ultimately suffer most from irresponsible leadership. We have the power in our hands, and we are going to use that power.
Jonathan might have just made that one public appearance as did the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989. Like Ceausescu, this appearance is supposed to confirm his popularity, but has actually led us to choose to stand against him.
We are standing up against him. We do not care if he has paid all the young musicians to ‘influence us’. Yes, we shall sing and dance later. But, we want to face more pressing matters. We want to be sure we have a stable, rationally governed state. Then we can listen to these artists entertain us.
Nigerian youths are asking: What about us? Join the movement. Let that generation know that we matter. No, let them know that we are all that matters. Let Goodluck Jonathan know that he chooses to ignore the youths at his own peril.
Because we clutch our blackberries and supposedly, spend all our day on twitter and Facebook, one may be tempted to think we do not have ‘time for politics’. Like the Egyptians and Tunisians, we shall use these same tools to decide who rules us. Warn Jonathan!