By Oba Abdulwahab
As a young man growing up, one thing that bookmarked a great future and good things to come, was the popular saying, “The young shall grow”. It seemed like an anthem and almost everyday at the assembly in school, our teachers and the Headmaster, let it sink into us that nothing was a given, but that through hardwork, discipline and dedication to our studies, we would turn out be future leaders and provide direction and hope for Nigeria, our country.
Those were clearly everyday therapy that stirred everyone to the path of hardwork, trusting and believing that if and when we do our best, we would become game changers and positively impactive to the nation.
Bustling with zest, passion and enthusiasm, we believed that from among us were young men and women – Accountants, Bankers, Medical doctors, Journalists, Administrators, Economists, Political Scientists, Pharmacists, Lawyers, among others, who would one day become presidents, governors, ministers, or, hold just any other important position in government and be able to drive the dreams and visions of those who founded Nigeria. We had high hopes and trusted that a time would come, and soon too, when the older generation would give way so we can step up and fulfill our potentials.
Today, as an adult, one could readily and safely hazard a guess at whether or not these dreams have come true, or, better still, whether or not, those before us had deliberately created a chance for transfer of leadership just so as we were told, the young shall grow. 57 years down the line of Nigeria’s independence, quite a lot has happened; fulfilled and unfilled dreams, progress and tribulations, transformations and stagnation; successes and disappointments.
The political space has been manipulated, in most cases, by a few cabal. The masses of our have been sidelined. So, in rare cases unlike an inclusive nature of Kwara’s model, the names would only slightly change, but more often than not, remained the same. They make perfect nursery rhyme without having to read any history book. It is the dilemma of the Nigerian State.
But, there is the worse of all. The seeming deliberate efforts by these privileged few, to devotedly pauperize the populace and look away pretending that things are working when of a truth, everything is on a downward spin. Since independence, nothing has become so common in the attitude of successive Nigerian leaders than their nonchalance. If anything, there had been a total disconnect from people whose trust they enjoy and those things that bind and strengthen nations such as – a strong legal system without regards to persons and positions, sustained infrastructure development plans, people-rooted democracy, patriotism and general wealth creation. These, without doubt, have combined largely to fan the ambers of irritant and groveling poverty, rising unemployment, Sky-high corruption, nerve-wrecking insecurity and growing hopelessness.
Curiously, rather than work with the 8th National Assembly, which unlike those before it, seems to have its path to history well defined, given the landmark bills it has passed into law, we seemingly drifted into rhetorics over-drive by igniting an unhealthy war of attrition that deeply created distrust amongst leadership of other arms of government and rubbed off negatively on government businesses for near two years. Indeed, if anyone hoped for a miracle to happen, NASS provided the link by passing into law key bills that aim at boosting trade and commerce, governance and anti-corruption engagements by government.
In the last count, the 8th NASS passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, which aims at introducing new operational and fiscal terms for management of revenue from the sector. There was also the Customs Service Management Act, which focuses on total compliance to global best practices, as well as the Ports and Harbours Reforms Bill; which aims at protecting the rights and interests of service providers at the port, including but not limited to commercial port users; and the Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets Bill, to create a new specie of capital that can be used in our financial system. They did not stop there. In its bid to reduce the risks involved in doing business with companies that have the history of not paying back, the Credit Bureau Services Bill, was added to the growing lists of bills already functional in Nigeria, including the Witness Protection Bill, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill and the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill, among others.
Those were positive signals, for, over the years, rather than build a strong system that thrives on ideas, technology, research and respect for procedures and rule of law, successive governments have continued to build human deities that circumvent the system to fuel their huge egos to the hurt of nation building. However, coming into government with an intimidating credential of impeccable character and proven track records of honesty, selflessness and patriotism, everyone expected President Muhammadu Buhari, 74 years old, and the All Progressives Congress Party (APC) to hit the ground running. But, things were to literarily go awry as they had gone with previous governments when rather than mobilize available human and material resources, especially liaising with all arms of government, including the National Assembly (NASS), the presidency curiously sort to dictate and control everything, inside, out, including attempts aimed at cowering the legislature.
Collaborating this sad reality is, perhaps, fact that not one government in the last 57 years has redeemed campaign promises regarding regular power supply, portable water, efficient road network, job creation and strong economy. The much eyes could see are often tucked in money-worth advertorials in newspapers, magazines and television, and points to the manner of leadership the nation has had to grapple with since independence, and how terribly growth and development have been hampered through the years. Reason there has been renewed calls for a fresh start and focus on youths development in line with what obtains all over the world. Today, the world over, investment on youths are speedily yielding fruits. In Canada, for instance, 36 years old Justin Trudeau is on the driver’s seat as Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Party. Trudeau is the second youngest after Joe Clark to hold the post and made history as the first to be related to a previous holder, his father, Pierre Trudeau, having been Prime Minister.
Also in France, Emmanuel Macron, an independent Centrist, at 39 years, shocked the world by emerging as President in a keenly contested election with Marine Le Pen. Only recently, too, a 30-year old American documentary filmmaker and former political Aide, Thomas Jonathan “Jon” Ossoff, was a Democratic nominee for congress in a special election in Georgia sixth Congressional District election, in the United States. Although Ossoff lost to the Republican candidate, Karen Handel, his emergence was a huge encouragement to other youngsters.
Today, on every turn and in nearly all spheres of human endeavors, young men are stepping up to face up to the challenge of nation building. There is no doubt that Nigeria has a great number of youths that can take over from the older generation. All it takes is the willpower to encourage them to grow, and, by so doing, assisting in putting real meaning to the growth potentials of the youth.
Therefore, as we discuss the nature and form of our federation and celebrate 57th years of political independence, according to Governor Ahmed, “we should focus on a political economy that provides an opportunity for class elevation and egalitarianism. Under what circumstances can we promote the human capital development of our people to stimulate the innovativeness necessary to develop our country, boost entrepreneurship and create more economic spaces for citizens to prosper? May God bless Nigeria at 57 and forever.