My Race, Our Hope By Odusote Oluwakayode
It was Prof. Tomori of the Redeemers’ University that once asked thus:
“Can we be silent for a moment…Can we listen to the music and the melody of the old song of Nigeria. I can hear the talking drums from deep down the bowels of the nation. I can hear a sonorous voice coming from the great and small rivers of Nigeria. I can hear the singing from the banks of the streams and streamlets watering the land of Nigeria. Can you hear it? I hear it, oh yes, I hear it. I hear the voice of Nigeria:
The silent voice of sanity
The quiet voice of probity
The hushed voice of honesty
The calm voice of decency
The still voice of honour
The soft voice of reason
The tranquil voice of integrity
The serene voice of virtue
The soothing voice of godliness
The peaceful voice of contentment
The voice of my old Nigeria
Do you hear it…………Do you?”
My experience and reflections in life has been of stories my father told me about a Nigeria where the sage Papa Awolowo gave the western region free education, free health services, affordable houses etc as the taste government offered to its people – the governed.
I learnt that my grandfather had been a carpenter in my village and from a respected family. I learnt about the sustainability he got from his carpentry work with a one storey building and a vesper to his credit.
I learnt how my father grew up in our village called Owu, near Ijebu-Ode, during these periods of hope. I began to understand and appreciate the distance he traveled to study Cinematography in Italy with a determination of returning to Nigeria to participate and contribute to her growth.
In many ways, he was vocal about the sweet memories of a Nigeria of the early 70s. There was faith in a prosperous Nigeria. Traveling to the white land was not a choice to survival but a choice to improvement.
My little story I guess represent the stories of so many Nigerian youth today. We heard beautiful stories about our Nation from our parents but we have no beautiful tales to tell our children.
It is pertinent that we take a look back into the history of our Nation. Has the situation always been like this? We need our government and leaders to tell us. What we heard in years gone by was that Nigerians lived in homes where honesty, integrity, loyalty, decency, uprightness, and truthfulness reigned.
Today we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our youth jobless, and being led by a government that possibly has no solution.
My piece is not the first call for reason so I paused and thought to myself, what will this piece mean for the President? What will it mean to the National Assembly and the 36 state Governors? Will it affect their performance positively and progressively? In my pessimistic opinion NO! But in my optimistic opinion YES- Yes because Hope is still alive.
Hope is not lost but the millions of Nigerian youth like me who are most affected, don’t care about politics and government anymore. We are disappointed and angry. Many have spent months looking for work after laboured years in various institutions to acquire a degree for sustainability. Others are doing their best just to scrape by — through small scale business that do not enjoy government support but greeted with harsh policies and unfriendly corporate firms.
Today, we live in a country, filled with people in the throes of decadence, a nation in the turmoil of corruption. Where brutality is victory, where integrity is perceived dead, where virtue is considered a tabboo, and where hypocrisy is taken as loyalty.
No arm of our government is free from corruption. Corruption roams freely in the corridors of our Ministries and Parastatals. It is flaunted with honor and pride by some of our leaders; it is adored by some heads of corporate firms.
The Nigerian youth grew up with faith in a Nigeria where hard work and responsibility should be rewarded. We believed in a country where everyone gets a fair share of the “National Cake” at least through a decent salary and good benefits, employment opportunity, free education, free health care service, good roads, security, affordable housing and friendly government policies.
For years now, the Nigerian youth have watched painfully the erosion of good and sincere governance. We have seen the policies too often hacked against us. And we know that our leaders have not always put our interests first. We work hard to meet our responsibilities- what has our country done for us?
When will the focused leader, in the face of our ongoing national crisis, stop the political circus and actually do something to help a crippled Nation walk?
Sadly, most of our leaders have become “Omo ako ti ile ta” by flaunting our wealth without recourse to human dignity and respect. They have created a hopeless situation for a Nation with rich endowments. They have no vision to develop but they have interest to steal.
As much as the failings of our leaders bother us, let us look into the genuine future and HOPE for a better life which is that promise that has always eluded our country – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one Nigerian family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.
That’s the reason for my piece. Because for over 52 years, at each moment when hope was lost, ordinary men and women, young and old, Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo alike found the courage to keep hope alive.
We keep hope alive in those defining moments, moments when our nation’s economy is in turmoil, and the governments’ promise has been of deceit.
The Nigerian youth are out of work and more are working harder for less to feed large families. So many Nigerian can’t boast of a convenient shelter. Many have cars but can’t afford to drive, and tuition that’s hard to pay.
These challenges are not of government’s entire making, most Nigerian youth have ignorantly contributed to these challenges due the deliberate failure to effectively and actively participate in Nation building. We have allowed and surrendered to leaders that lack the qualities to lead and perform positively.
We were better in the early 70s, we could still be better again.
This country is more decent than one where fuel subsidy removal will be considered without a human face.
This country is more generous than one where it will be a pain to the government to increase the minimum wage of worker while they make astronomical financial allocation for themselves.
This moment – this country and its positive growth is our duty to keep, because no one would do it for us, Nigeria for Nigerians.
We need to be actively involved in our country’s political growth and development because we love this country too much to let the next generation which include our children suffer- our generation must not be a wasted one!
Politics has always been seen as a dirty game, reasons why large population of Nigerians prefers to leave their fate in the hands of pity. Every matter of life is a game; the way it’s being played could be different. A politician who kills or rig election has played badly – that does not mean politics itself is bad.
We must admit that we are duty bound to be actively involved in our country’s political adventure especially as 2015 beckons. The promise and beauty of our active involvement in national development lay in a virile youth’s active participation in politics.
Politics as a game with a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect.
Politics as a game should be with a promise that says the economy should reward drive and innovation and generate growth. That government and corporate businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create Nigerians jobs, with good package to meet necessary demands.
Politics as a game should be with the promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves, provision of Security, provision of free education, provision of infrastructure, provision of reliable health service, provision of clean water, provision of electricity, provision of refineries etc.
Our governments have the mandate and obligation to work for us, not against us. It should ease our pains, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity for all and not just for the rich and those with influence whether questionable or not-Nigeria for Nigerians.
Those are the qualities of politics – the passion that we are responsible for Nigerians, the courage that in times of challenges, we rise or fall as one nation, the love that I am my brother’s keeper from any tribe.
That’s the promise I see in politics and that’s what we need to keep.
The promise in politics must address our tax system that doesn’t meet demands of infrastructure. It must address the stagnancy in our export promotion and agricultural growth. Tax system should stop giving tax breaks to corporations that recruit non Nigerians and should start giving them to companies that create good jobs for the unemployed.
As a nation and for the sake of our economy, our stability, and our heritage, there should be a clear goal when we will finally end our dependence on oil. We need to stop this dependence, and to understand that those corrupt wealthy individuals with oil blocs are the enemies of Nigeria that we must defeat.
The promise in the game should tap into our endowed natural resources, invest in inventions and support technological development which would help create jobs. The promise is not about fighting opponents but about focused and visionary leadership.
The Promise in politics which we must all play active role as youth is to meet moral obligations, to provide every child a standard education. I have the opportunity to write because I got the chance of being educated. And I will not settle for a Nigeria where some kids don’t have that such bright chance. Our government must invest in education. They must recruit quality teachers and make teaching attractive, by paying good salaries and giving them more support. Such gesture from the government will produce standards.
The realizations of these promises are what make us great and not depending on international advice.
The youth must play active role in our politics towards meeting the promise of affordable, accessible health care for every Nigerian. If we have standard health care provisions, lives would be saved. Our health system must be compared to international standards, the kind of standard treatment our Presidency, members of the National Assembly and the rich get for themselves abroad.
The leaders as usual have started their game plan for 2015 – will you and I continue to “siddon look”? Our destiny for a better Nigeria is in our hands. We should be the decider of who leads us through a better manifesto and not some few elites battling to get power at all cost for material gains and ego.
Now is the time to help our Nation and contribute our quota to Nation building. It can’t be done by complaints in the corners of our homes, it can’t be done by running out of this country to other countries, it can’t be done by being drowned by the same corruption we condemn, it can’t be done by the belief that one day we’ll take our own part of the national cake, it can’t be done by nursing fears of the unknown, it can’t be done by criticizing on facebook, twitter, blogs etc and it can’t be done by “siddon look” attitude.
Now is the time to take our future into our hands. We are no longer leaders of tomorrow, we are leaders of today! Our generation must not be wasted!!
It is not easy but we must also admit that fulfilling Nigeria’s promise will require more than just share spectator in the arena of politics and governance. It will require a renewed sense of responsibility by being intellectually and ideologically sound to proffer solutions to our challenges.
We talk about government leading on provision of amenities, but don’t forget that we are the government and each of us must do our part to make our community and places of work or engagement more efficient.
We must be pro-active to provide more avenues to success for young men and women. The vision we must have is Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility, that’s the essence of Nigeria’s promise.
For while we had turned our sights to other things of personal interest, the ill focused and visionless leaders stood up and took over the reign of power-we suffer for it today.
My call for our active participation in our nation’s political affair is to remove leaders without ideas of leadership and governance from government. In Our nation we need a leadership who can face the threats of the future and not the one that will keep grasping at the ideas of the past or by running to IMF and World Bank for ideas.
You don’t defeat corruption that operates in government by occupying ASO rock through the virus you intend to defeat. You don’t protect your allowance and security vote and proffer plans to remove fuel subsidy. You can’t truly stand up for transparency when you’ve strained the truth attached to electoral victory. You can’t continue to assure without the visible actions in place, If our leaders wants to follow work, it should be by actions and not deceptive words.
The time indeed is ours to determine, it is a choice – but we must beware!
We must beware because we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. We must pledge once more to march into the better future.
The better future however begins with you – may God help us realize.
I am @Actionkay1 on twitter
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