If the conditions appear right for me to vote in 2019, I will be going to the polling booth with one of my children. The “millennials” – those born at the turn of the last millennium or the beginning of this millennium – will be voting for the first time in Nigeria then. It’s the generation that has not witnessed military rule.
My age-mates and I deserve congratulations! At least our children won’t be haunted by the spectre of military rule, as we were. On one occasion they asked me what a military takeover meant, I told them it’s like armed robbers seizing the headship of a community. Those who joined the army in those days were dropouts or those who didn’t pass the Cambridge/WASC exam, I said.
We whose future was stolen, who were denied the opportunity to grow as young people, who were led astray, and who dreamt dreams that were truncated have now entered old age. Like many others, however, I wonder if our children are living in a better country. We suffered from unemployment, but what do we call our children’s present predicament?
By even the most conservative estimate, the number of unemployed Nigerians today is not fewer than 50million. The number of the underemployed is equally staggering – perhaps 100million. You could therefore assume that as many as 150million Nigerians are poor because they are either unemployed or underemployed.
Now I wonder why 150million people would accept to suffer and die for the sins of fewer than 2, 000 people. Yes, fewer than 2, 000 people who destroyed Nigeria are alive today. It’s surprising that so many are persecuted by so few – and yet it’s not surprising. I see 200 sheep led by one shepherd or 100 cows controlled by one herdsman. But are so many Nigerians sheep and cattle?
If the unemployed youth knew the power in their hands, they would reverse their fortune through the ballot box in 2019. They would choose only leaders whose main programme would be creation of jobs and elimination of poverty. The coup plotters of old promised these and more, but they betrayed their mission; this time round, the youth should look for those with genuine ideas and firm commitment. Of course, the era of military rule is far behind us. Anybody who attempted a coup again (as some are clandestinely suggesting on social media) would be roasted alive in the street.
The youth won’t work together because their oppressors know how to divide and rule them. Religion, tribe and bribery come handy. And the miserable education system completes the brainwashing: obey constituted authority, face your books, politics is a dirty game, pray without ceasing. While in school, no one asks for the available industries that will create jobs for them when they leave school.
Young Nigerians are frustrated. Is it not responsible for the sudden rise in the rate of suicide cases? Some get destroyed by drugs, some by criminal acts. Some others take the dangerous risk of travelling to Europe by land and sea – many drown in the high seas. Those who make it to Italy or Spain work as slaves or prostitutes. In India, South Africa and elsewhere Nigerians are being killed or deported in shackles.
The time has come for Nigerian youths to awaken to the perils of these times. Nigeria’s future belongs to its young people. They either work as a team or they perish separately as fools. The United Nations has just named Nigeria as one of the countries facing famine, that is, extreme hunger that leads to mass deaths. Though the north-east is hardest hit, famine is currently on a rampage in every region of the country.
Two years after Nigerians voted in a general election, it’s now clear that there is no difference between the PDP and the APC. It’s the same people that have held power since 1999. They keep changing their parties, because you can’t identify any party with any principle. The true parties are two – the poor and the rich.
2019 is at hand. If the elections ever take place, many upsets ought to be recorded if the millennials use their power. For there is strength in numbers: if 50million unemployed Nigerians can accept to work together henceforth, they will be able to elect the next president, vice president, 36 governors, 469 national legislators and all lawmakers in 36 states. Consider that fewer than 29million voted in 2015, despite all the rigging – the multiple voting and inflation of figures.
As I have confessed before, I’m one of those who rooted for Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. I’ve since apologised to my readers – I apologised in this space last August. But President Jonathan was to blame too: he didn’t do well as president.
It’s no longer a matter of APC or PDP; both parties have imploded. And Buhari is no longer the issue. We’ve seen the best of him, while sickness has not allowed him to give account of his stewardship. The nation is now at the mercy of a ruthless cabal whose expertise in grass-cutting is well known. We didn’t vote for a cabal in 2015, so it owes us no allegiance. As they struggle for power, they may lead us into disaster even before 2019.
My appeal to patriotic, talented and selfless young Nigerians: start organising. You could seize one of the less known registered political parties and direct all the unemployed and underemployed to register with it. When INEC asks each presidential candidate to pay N25million, let the lawyers among the youth go to court and contest it; they will win, as Gani Fawehinmi did.
Money may not even be a problem. What if 50million members contributed N100 each? That would be N5billion! The amount would be able to sponsor all of the party’s candidates at the national, state and local levels.
They may have no need for campaigns, except on the social media. And who can beat the youth when it comes to making friends using the media?
There will be no fundamental change so long as there is no common goal among the oppressed people of Nigeria. Good governance will continue to elude us until take our country back.
I no longer belong to the youth, but my heart and mind will be with any patriotic group that is determined to stop these charlatans, thieves and incompetents who have been retarding our progress and ruining our future.
Once the oppressed people of our country realise the power in their hands, they will become free. If they fail to work together, well, famine is knocking at the door. It knows no political party or religion or tribe.
— By ANIEBO NWAMU
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