Rage in the Land
It was no rage from the aged or the hoary folks, but from a youthful population that could no longer swallow the bitter pills of misgovernance.
The set off by calling for an end to the notorious police unit codenamed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). But it served only as a plank upon which the youths vented their spleen against other endemic ills in the country.
In hundreds, if not thousands, they kept vigil in many states across the federation. We saw bonfires. Some turning chefs as they cooked and ate with some relish on major roads. Music wafting from the end of Disc jockeys were danced to with mesmerising styles in display. We saw hook ups. Some ladies flaunted what we call ‘asset’ in street lingo. One, heavy up there, boldly wrote #EndSars at the centre or shall we say middle of the park. For some, it was a time to unwind after a long lull and drab days of vegetating at home occasioned by covid-19 lockdown. I met a dashing lady who said she was there to catch fun.
A particular chap, body riddled with tattoos of all sizes, meanings and shapes, wore only panties as he, with youthful zest and din, clamoured for end to SARS brutality. His face looked roughened as though delt with by smoke from weed, ‘Colorado’, name them. In the days of SARS, such folks were the ultimate targets. So, if the lanky fellow chose to rage against SARS the way he did, he must have had a brush or two with the men in black garb for his looks, hair and all.
In all, the youths were right in their vociferous clamour. It was long over due. Our system has failed. It’s a shame of a nation that just clocked sixty in self-rule that a child of 5 will holler “Nepaaaaa” when the bulb shines light. It doesn’t matter that NEPA is no more. Some of us did it as children, yet as adults, we still hear that shout. It shows we’ve made no progress. Government after government has failed to exert the willpower needed to change a sad and shameful narrative that has kept a supposed giant standing awkwardly on wobbly legs.
The nation is bleeding on all pores. It is not helped by a suffocating leadership recruitment system where the best does not lead but the one favoured by the so- called power brokers or kingmakers who have held the country by the jugular for years on end. Their time has changed nothing to be cheery about; leave the stage for fresh ideas, they won’t. So, it’s a nation in circles. It’s neither moving forward nor making progress. It seems, each passing day, as though we’ve hit a cul-de-sac.
So the youth took up the gauntlet. They have been deceived and misled for years. Not just them, but the emerging young ones of today in elementary school are told they are leaders of tomorrow. This has remained a big lie told from time imemorial. When the white-haired man who should be resting at home or playing an advisory role as an elder is minister, ambassador and senator, where is the tomorrow promised the youths? It has been a hoax for many years.
A line used to keep one in the place of belief and hoping that he’s or will be a leader of tomorrow. But events and realities all point to the contrary. One man is governor, tomorrow he is senator then a minister. Nobody begrudges one of his success, but the peculiarity of Nigeria’s politics means we should change all this.
The leaders of the 60s, 70s and 80s are still the ones pulling the strings in 2020. So, we have a president with no age on his side, and no fire in his bones. His speech inspires none. The spoken word is off the mark. But it’s a country with sound minds who are flourishing in various fields. We have them in Science, in Arts, Engineering and all. But they can’t lead because they have no “long legs” as we say, or a clingy and ultra powerful but moneybag godfather without whom no one gets anything. It’s a future in fetters.
It’s a system that does not encourage the best hands to pilot our affairs. That’s why we have a ‘packaged’ President today. And he is deputised by a professor. If it’s no irony of gargantuan scale, I wonder what it is then. We need to retool the pool from where leaders at all levels emerge. What the youths’ anger has shown is that we must end the culture where one or two people sit in their closets and handpick who becomes LG chairman, governor, commissioner, the list goes on.
Using people as pawns to ascend various public offices and later abandoning them to be dealt with by the harsh vagaries of life is manipulative and does not bode well for the used and the user. Those you arm for election and leave them to their fate after the polls will, if not well managed, turn the same gun against you and society. So, we should not engage the criminally-minded to do a bidding we won’t be happy if same was done to us. We can’t even ask our children to do the things we ask other people’s children to do. But do, the ignorant will, because of poverty, sometimes not necessarily of money but of the mind.
We shouldn’t encourage a manipulative system where we know deep down that this person is up to nothing good except for what we term dirty jobs. If you engage a thug to kill another in exchange of filthy lucre, but cannot employ such a fellow or recommend him to nobler jobs, why bring him close? Why not get him to abandon the worthless life and think differently so he can be employable when you get to that office? To be seen to be large-hearted and come across as one with the faintest milk of human kindness, you should think about those who work with you as you think of your children. Think about their future, the salary you pay them, how you treat them, the list is snaky. This will help us raise responsible citizens.
People should not be treated slavishly because they are working under you. Empathy and kindness should be the guiding compass on how we relate with our subjects. Subject no one to inhuman treatment because you have a salaried job to offer. Nobody should be treated as subhuman. God graced you to assist others and not oppress them. When correcting or reprimanding your subjects, do it in a way that doesn’t humiliate them. I cringe each time I see grown up ladies kneel by the roadside in the name of being punished by their employer. That’s no punishment to put one on the right track, but humiliation dripping with illiteracy-induced wickedness. I digress.
So, the point in all this is that in as much as we must hold our leaders accountable, we too must strive to do the right thing in our own little corners of influence. As a teacher, teach well, if you’re a guardian, step mother, don’t maltreat the ones under your influence. Parents should buckle down the more on how they groom their children. Back then, discpline was entrenched in homes so much that children knew right from wrong even before they headed to school. Alas, over pampering of kids by irresponsible parents today has birthed a raft of misfits and indolent children all over the place. It is from this pool that leaders emerge hence the need for us to get it right from home.
The Holy Book instructs us not to spare the rod else we spoil the child. A philosopher once said if your children do not cry today, you’ll cry tomorrow. So, the family remains the strongest and most potent unit of the larger society, meaning that if we get it right here, we can minimise the explosion of street urchins, hooligans and thugs who act as ready tools in the hands of desperate politicians.
These are the ones that went on a looting spree hence polluting a genuine agitation with their ingrained kleptomania sprinkle with a good dose of madness and crass stupidity. No sane mind will break into people’s shops to loot. Public and private property went up in flames. Banks were not spared this insanity. Now, we can’t even see onions to buy in the market because of the indiscretion of demented minds sullied more by the helpless urge to steal.
While our leaders should take the blame for the sorry pass into which Nigeria has sunk, we the led should strive to set good examples wherever we have control over some people. The youth must demonstrate tact, good sense of judgement and maturity that will give assurances of their readiness to take up critical offices in the land. They gave a hint of their intent, but unscrupulous elements stole in to pollute a good cause.
In all, the message has been passed. Everyone has heard the youths loud and clear. Nigerians must sit down and renegotiate their corporate existence. It’s clear that the contraption or wedlock of 1914 can no longer serve a disperate population. Remaining adamant or turning a deaf ear to this clarion call portends a grave danger to a nation hanging precariously on a cliff hanger.