Home > Articles, National Development, Societal Issues > To My Fellow Youth of Our Dear Nation Chima Williams Iheme

To My Fellow Youth of Our Dear Nation Chima Williams Iheme

Image from Freelanceglobalmedia.com

Image from Freelanceglobalmedia.com

I have a few things to remind us about. Have you realised yet that the term “getting employed” is proverbially diverse with meanings and remains always a matter of interpretation? The mainstream understanding about getting employed usually refers to a situation where a person secures a paid salary job as against when she or he engages in some lawful activities which as well bring profits. The idea that it is the duty of government to create jobs ought to have outlived its usefulness in an economic system that is akin to capitalism, to embrace the
much more useful idea that the growth of our economy remains actively in the hands of private individuals. The time of dirigisme in which the state wholly controls the economy has passed, although our government has still got a lot to contribute in our economic growth by using the nation’s resources to provide basic infrastructures like steady power, security, good roads, etc that will ensure the smooth running of businesses and employment creations, as well as attract foreign direct investors. When basic infrastructures are in place, thereby reducing the
cost of doing business and increasing the probability of business successes, acquiring sufficient credit from banks and venture capitalists may become easier than we have now.

The idea of doing business and expanding the economy ought to be taught and heeded to like an article of faith by youth whose country is heavily dependent on diminishing natural resources as the major source of its income. Of course, the discovery of crude oil and natural gas has perhaps been of great disservice to us so far as it is highly responsible for the escalation of bribery and corruption in our system. We have abandoned our culture for hard work and perseverance which thrived in the 70s and once kept us as the highest producers/exporters of
some agricultural products in Africa, in preference to being peddlers of the “national cake” syndrome with all of its ravaging effects. We all know that with agriculture for instance in the 70’s our naira currency ranked higher in value than the US dollar and Nigeria was home for many foreigners who came for greener opportunities. Many of our state-of-the-art universities in terms of structures (which of course are now lacking maintenance) were built
with agricultural proceeds. In fact, since the oil boom, our country has not been able to replicate the quality of most of the universities that were constructed in the 70’s. Our educational system was viable and life was far better than it is now. If we had sustained that tempo of growth without the interference of oil boom, we all could guess where we would be now. Or the oil boom would have become a blessing if we had built and sustained transparent institutions that could frustrate the antics of corruption.

One crucial lesson could however be drawn from the three decades of economic experiments since the 70s. The lesson is that the economic betterment of the average Nigerian cannot depend on crude oil and natural gas but on something more steadfast. It’s time we begin to retrace our steps to the junction where we got diverted so as to unlearn certain attitudes to life as well as embrace new ones that could be of sustainable value to our overall growth.

As I already stated, we must have the basic infrastructures in place before doing business becomes a viable tool that could help unscrew our current economic quagmire. This goes to say that we must fulfill our duty to elect true leaders who can make good use of our national resources to provide our basic needs as a country. We must not assist politicians to rig elections because that way we endanger our lives as well as help them to screw up younger generations. Part of our duty instead should be how to become true watchdogs to the system and prevent politicians from rigging elections, and not becoming vehicles through which elections are rigged. We must learn from the experiences of those nations who have walked on the painful path of actualising democracy but are now reaping the fruits of their perseverance and labour. When ASUU goes on strike in agitation for improved education for the system, when we have no steady power supply even though we have abundant natural gas, when our
loved ones die in motor accidents due to bad roads, when they die in hospitals due to ill-equipped facilities, when they die as a result of consuming dangerous products in the market because someone who could have done quality
checks was bribed, when they die on plane crashes for the same reason, when they get attacked and killed by armed robbers or get kidnapped due to poor security apparatuses, and so on, we the youth are partly responsible
for all this if we have in one way or the other assisted in rigging elections and implanting visionless leaders in positions or have watered the seeds of injustices through our collective docility. It is high time we stopped being impersonal about these collective issues that are haunting us badly whether you consider yourself as rich or poor because no one can be truly happy in an unhappy environment. We must never assist anyone who is further dragging us to economic abyss to succeed by helping him/her to rig elections. The youth with their formidable valour can actually bring about a meaningful change to any system if they decide to realise the truth and pursue it no matter where it leads. We must help ourselves now and the generations to come by actively ensuring that good leaders are elected and held accountable.

When we have elected credible leaders, we must follow them up to ensure accountability. If we were doing this, we wouldn’t have lost $US400billion dollars so far to oil theft as the World Bank’s study revealed. Yet a graduate youth corp member goes home with a monthly salary of N19,800 while the country can afford to pay a senator close to N12million per month, and we still beg our senators to make good laws or at least revise the ones we copied from countries long time ago so that we can move forward. You see, we must not be docile when leaders don’t live up to their mandates, because we always are the ultimate victims of their non-performance. There is nothing wrong and illegal in organising peaceful rallies to register disagreement with government actions and policies or speak out without bad sentiments in the media so as to spread true awareness and achieve a more concerted effort to fight against
corruption and injustices. No one can do it for us but us. Remaining afraid to act is what has kept us in this pitiable condition. We are now a shadow of ourselves as a nation and life has become nightmarish to the youth whose ambitions have been greatly debilitated due to the misuse of our national resources. If and when our truly elected leaders emerge and put enough infrastructures in place, I bet that foreign direct investors and venture capitalists will start to flood into our country to invest because we have a high population of 170 million people whose patronages can make any business to blossom. Our population could become a blessing instead of the burden it currently is, but we all must first help to fix our home before the blessing aspect materialises.

Then we must begin to learn how to create wealth and employment by doing legitimate businesses of our choices. An economy that is 90 percent dependent on crude oil and gas exports is as dangerous as a time bomb which we all are responsible to prevent from
detonation. Our agricultural, health, education, in fact none of our sectors is fully tapped yet, and these are lucrative areas of business that can match with everyone’s formal or informal skills. Many of us nowadays (including those who studied agriculture in higher institutions) shy away from engaging in agriculture due to their polluted idea about being employed. They are ashamed of being called farmers. Don’t you realise it yet that we need to change our mindset because in many countries farmers are indeed the richest set of individuals. The truth is that agriculture which brought us to limelight in the 70’s, cures two main problems. It reduces unemployment as well as provides enough food for our teeming population. When we begin to engage fully in productive activities (and not merely wait for the “national cake” or subjectively deciding on issues based on ethnic lines) it will help to restore the hard work and perseverance values we once had in abundance in the 70’s and then could pass them on as legacies to generations to come. Until a kid in the kindergarten stops to say that s/he wants to become a politician, then we have not tried enough to restore these inestimable value which are cardinal to success. Surely we all will continue to be the ultimate losers, and may not be exempted when our historians begin to write the names of failures.

Chima Williams Iheme is a lawyer in Nigeria and currently a doctoral candidate with research focus on secured transactions law at the Central European University, Budapest, Hungary. He is interested in Human Rights issues as well issues which touch on overall human development.

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  1. Ken Ejiofor
    28/01/2014 at 10:06

    Sometimes it scares me to mention my Vision to people because looking at the country, it seems such will never work. Though, I still have the faith of its reality but Nigerians must work towards having solid institutions that will help our dreams come true. This is a wonderful creative write up

  2. Yibakuo David Amakiri
    28/01/2014 at 19:54

    If and only if, one hundred million Nigerians thought in this direction, what a country we would live in? I have also been of this opinion that the problem of Nigeria is ‘Nigerians’! Keep up the fine Mr. Iheme. Thank you.

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