(An Open Letter To The Youth Of Nigeria)
Dear Youth of Nigeria,
This writer, a member of the wasted generation of Nigeria, writes this testament in shame and sadness to you, the youth of Nigeria. The decision to write this message is informed by one of the virtues in the African culture before its bastardisation by the alien marauders. The corner stone of an African society was the practice where every adult in a community is held responsible as a father figure or moral guardian to the younger generation.
It is with this historical background in mind that this writer will like you to accept this short message of hope and to consider the important concern it raises with respect to your welfare and happiness.
It is sad to inform you that, as a result of the negligence of your parents, your generation has inherited a self-inflicted large and ugly scar of moral and ethical injuries.
Your parents, of which this writer is a member, have been called a wasted generation, prodigal sons and daughters and the intellectually challenged generation.
My generation is so described because of the observable facts of history. We were the generation that wilfully and foolishly refused to discover and use the immense talent that nature graciously bestowed on us. We carelessly decided to bury our heads in sand like the proverbial ostrich. We wallowed and rejoiced in mediocrity and up till now we do not know any better.
The only legacy my generation is proud to bequeath to you is the legacy of insurmountable debt, social degradation, moral depravity, spiritual decadence, wretchedness, hunger, destitution and abject poverty.
We have emptied the treasure chest of the land, which nature gave to us as our inheritance, as we embarked on reckless shopping spree across the globe. We are the traditional prodigal sons and daughters of the world.
My generation inherited so much wealth and blessings from Mother Nature but due to mental laziness, senselessness, slothfulness and unforgivable carelessness, we allowed ourselves to be swindled or conned out of our inheritances. We are the classic case of the Biblical story of those that were given talents but rather than utilise them by adding value to them buried the talents in the sand.
Dear Nigerian Youth, this is your inheritance. It is a shameful heritage.
This writer feels it is important to put you in the true picture of your existence before you set out in life, believing wrongly, that the generation of your parents have left you pots of gold.
It is very easy to assume, looking at the way your parents’ generation are carrying on, that indeed in your father’s house there are many cartons of Naira. It is obvious that your parents are so conspicuously extravagant and irresponsibly driven that you have grown up to believe that flaunting and exhibiting one’s possession is a moral virtue.
Your generation had little or no education because there were no proper teachers or good role models from whom you could have learnt some important precepts and lessons of a good life.
It is the desire of this writer to help you to see the challenges ahead of you. He intends to bring these shortcomings to your attention as he encourages you to aspire by astute management of time and scarce resources to turn all the debits of your heritage into credits.
This writer will like you to know that in the history of life and the living, it is the most wronged generation that often spring up from nowhere to turn the tide of woes of their lives into blessings. It is the most deprived generation that often succeed in digging deep into the core of their existence to retrieve the hidden jewels of their nations. And it is the most neglected children that often grow up to become the pillar of their family or society.
So, you have no cause to feel despondent by the facts of your lack of valuable inheritance. History is in your favour and that is why you need to listen and listen carefully to the testament of an awakened member of a wasted generation.
But why should you bother to listen to one of those responsible for your suffering?
Let me confess to you, this writer is equally full of shame and remorse. It is not easy for a father to put into writing lamentations and testament of woes as gifts to the generation of his children. This writer feels terrible about the wrongs we did to you. He feels guilty that he could not do anything to prevent all the losses and debts we are passing down to you. He is gutted with pain of anger when it is realised that there was nothing that we, those of us who understand, could do in the face of the spiritual malady that enveloped the land of Nigeria.
The few that refused to participate in the general madness were seen as the crazy ones. Popular local musicians and comedians wrote songs and plays to denounce the few sane ones as they were labelled and called all sorts of derogatory names. It was so bad since our world was literarily turned upside-down. Head became tail while tail became head. Those who were supposed to be governed became the government and vice versa.
However, by the lessons learnt from the experiences of our sad past and the knowledge acquired from the written history of other nations of the world, this writer has hopes and visions that your generation is destined to rescue the people of Nigeria.
He believes your dedication to the onerous task of seeking and searching for true knowledge will eventually pay off, as it shall empower you to turn the table of Nigeria’s malady around.
This writer will understand if you think that he seems to be passing the bulk of the responsibility for the regeneration of Nigeria to the younger generation. It is a legitimate question to ask, why shouldn’t my generation face up to their responsibilities? And why shouldn’t we do something about correcting the mistakes we made?
Unfortunately, my generation is far too gone into the cuckoo land where fools reside. The admonitions of the few awakened members of my generation have failed to register any change in our mentality.
Lest we forget, my generation is also called the non-listening generation. We are in self-denial of the error of the past and of the moment. We find it more convenient to blame others for our woes than to seek understanding about them and to search for solutions. We are unwilling to accept responsibility for our negligence, incompetence and our stupidities.
This is the situation that compelled this writer to seek you out, the youth of Nigeria. My generation shall soon pass away and the many chains of slavery in our lives are far too complex to unravel at this late hour. It will be foolish to wait on my generation for answers to the problems of Nigeria. We have none.
On that note, this writer will plead for your indulgence and kind consideration. Personally, the only gift he can offer at this stage is the wisdom of experience and hindsight.
Dear Nigerian Youth, this writer is hoping that you will be kind enough to listen to his testament and that you will see the sense to use this gift as appropriate to your condition.
The writer sincerely believes that this gift will be worth millions in whatever value you decided to cultivate in future. This is the only wealth the few sane members of the wasted generation can pass to you. It is more precious than gold or Naira or dollar.
Historical Facts About Nigeria
Enough of the preamble, let us get down to the real business as we ascertain the facts of the issues at stake. You are a Nigerian by the virtue that either of your parents was born in the British Colonial Army occupied geographical space later christened Nigeria by a British journalist, Miss Flora Shaw later Mrs Lugard.
Her husband, Major Fredrick Lugard, a British Army Officer in the service of the imperial British Empire, was the creator of Nigeria. He fashioned by force, trickery and economic expediency a geographical and political structure out of naturally incompatible multi-ethnic and multi-cultural peoples.
History recorded that he lobbied the Colonial office in London and eventually won support for the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Nigeria as well as secured to his name the prestigious title of Governor-General in 1914.
Before 1914, this geographical space with different historical political experiences had two distinct trading administrative arrangements under two Governors.
The nations of the North were conquered by British military force while most of the nations in the South were initially ceded to the British Crown after due negotiations with incumbent royal houses.
The Northern Protectorate had its headquarters in Kaduna while the Southern Protectorate had its headquarters in Lagos.
From the early 1940s when the agitation for independence was becoming too loud for comfort, the British Government permitted constitutional development projects.
The 1946 Constitution that did not consult the indigenes of Nigeria in its design attempted to unite the Northern and Southern Councils into Unitary Council. Nigerians, that is the awakened members, that is your grand parents, rejected the unitary arrangement that made the three Regional Councils mere talking shops with no legislative powers.
After several other conferences and adjustments to the 1946 Constitution, other Constitutions emerged in 1951, 1954, 1960 and 1963 to establish Federal and Regional political institutions that were acceptable to all concerns.
The independence of Nigeria from British Colonial supremacist rule on the principles of freedom, equality and justice for all Nigerians was finally negotiated and won on September 30, 1960 under the recommendations of the 1957 Constitutional Conference.
However, since January 1966 when the military officers of Nigerian Army seized by force and bloodshed the political institutions of Nigeria, the country has regressed back to the rejected unitary constitution for the governance of Nigeria.
Under the unitary military government, though still called Federal Government, the over-centralised ‘Federal Government’ succeeded in robbing every nation that has God-given natural wealth like mineral resources and fertile lands. This daylight robbery by the military controlled Federal Government has turned the central government into a bloated and corpulent Father Christmas. It is so large in financial budgetary size that the allocation of its stolen fortunes has become the only economic issue in Nigeria.
You must have noticed that the current political gangsters in the country are not interested in resource development and management but only in resource allocation. None of the political actors is interested in how the resource to be allocated was secured in the first instance.
When these political charlatans are challenged about the immorality of reaping where they have not sown, they only shout and scream more loudly, give us our share of the loot and ill-gotten gains. Who cares how the Federal Government of Nigeria got the loot?
In order to legitimise the robbery and plundering of the nations, the coup-plotting military officers that seized political power by force and bloodshed decreed a new constitution for the country.
In 1979, they gave a wordy, cumbersome, double-speak and maliciously loaded constitution to Nigeria that was practically impossible to practice by the politician of the Second Republic. However, that constitution further assured that all the nations/states of Nigeria were utterly and fatally disabled economically.
The 1979 Constitution took away the States’ wherewithal and their ways and means for independent existence as autonomous governing state. The States were made mere appendages to the exceedingly powerful Federal Government.
As a result of this beggarly arrangement, the State Governments needed welfare assistance from month to month to maintain a semblance of a government. It was obvious that without the string-attached welfare, economic or social security doles from the ‘Federal Government’ none of the state could survive or maintain its structure. It was no surprise that in 1983, after only four years another military junta drove out the civilian politicians who could not see the trap set for them by the power-loving military politicians.
Financial And Moral Bankruptcy
After almost 30 years of military occupation of Nigeria, the political military officers have succeeded in running the country into bankruptcy. These ‘officers’ or military politicians looted and raped the nations into penury. As a result of their devoted and selfless services to the fatherland, Nigeria is now able to boast of cash millionaires and billionaires in their ranks and files.
We now have big money men and women among them who have the financial muscle to swing elections of national, state and local governments hither or thither as it suits their interests and desires.
Now, under every sphere of assessment and evaluation, Nigeria is adjudged a failed state. Every institution of government has failed and it is still failing the people.
With the look of things, the principal political players in khaki or babanriga are the only winners of this macabre political game. As at 1998 due to the debt Nigeria owed the western world, this writer estimated that each Nigerian was owing a massive debt of “N25,125.60.
In other words, each household of four people had a debt burden of about N100,502.40”. And “each community or village with a population of 5,000 is facing a whopping debt of One hundred and twenty-five million, six hundred and twenty-eight thousand Naira (N125,628,000.00).”
These figures have not decreased but must have actually increased since the value of Nigerian currency has since depreciated further and the debt that hovers around $35 billion owed to the foreign creditors is yet to be fully paid back.
In effect and without your permission, the generation of your parents have committed you into a debt-bondage for life. You have been made a ward or slave of the western nations.
The Western nations now have the legal and conventional rights as a creditor to determine the shape of your future, the price of your labour value, the limit of your life chances and expectations, the direction of your country’s social, economic, and political developments, and the management of your nation’s external relations.
This is the legacy the generation of your parents have bequeathed to you as your inheritance for life. And unless you understand this and strive with everything in you to change this misfortune that is how it shall remain and that is what you will in turn pass on to your children.
As a result of the economic malpractices of the political players since 1960, Nigeria has become bankrupt financially and morally. The economy is carrying a high unserviceable content of foreign and local debts. The entire economy is in doldrums; it is unmanageable, unsustainable and uncontrollable.
Every Nigerian has lost faith in the ability of governments to protect them from economic deprivation, social insecurity and political injustice. As a survival strategy, it is no more a surprise that foreign currency speculation has become the main thriving financial business.
It is now a common knowledge that 419 is the business of choice for most aspiring Nigerian youth. The importation of junks collected from the junkyards of Europe and Asia has become a recognised popular business venture for upward mobile traders. And every aspiring businessman or woman is aware that the only lucrative business in Nigeria is to pick up a government contract.
At the moment, the most popular economic project going on in the country is the balkanisation through asset stripping of Government corporations and parastatals in the name of privatisation. Like every copycat endeavour of Nigerian experts, these financial and economic gurus are carefully blind to the failed result of privatisation projects of the 1980s in Europe.
Consequently, every party faithful, every friend and family of those in the corridors of power, every sycophant and business front, every dummy company set up for this purpose and every international fraudsters are all lining up and hustling to have a juicy bite of the Abuja privatization bonanza.
Up till now and despite the inhumane suffering among Nigerian Youth caused by unemployment, our money magnates, the product of government contract scams and over-invoicing deal, have not shown any interest in creating employment for the teeming youth.
At least if they care, this could serve as a form of restitution and pay back to the people of Nigeria they have mercilessly swindled over the years. The above mentioned problems are the broad economic calamities that shall need your attention sooner or later.
The moral bankruptcy of the nation can be glimpsed from the deplorable state of education in the country. The institution of education was intentionally run down to the ground. The military politicians of Nigeria, like all tyrannical rulers, are naturally averse to intellectual engagements. They were forever suspicious of independent thinkers, the product of sound education. They therefore succeeded in turning education into a mere certificate-mongering enterprise.
Schools and universities have no libraries that are worth the name; no laboratory or equipment worthy of such description; no standard or sub-standard classrooms worthy of that title; no dedicated teachers could be found in the schools and colleges after years of travail and ridicule; no committed students anymore that are willing to sacrifice everything in them for the goal of enlightenment and spiritual emancipation.
In fact, throughout the period of the military occupation of the country, there were no adequate resources, no defined policy, no noble principle and no sound philosophy of any kind to guide the education of Nigerians. As it was in the classrooms so it is in the larger society.
The Nigerian societies completely lost their moral rudder. There is no longer a clear-cut distinction between wrong and right values. The social values became atomised and personalised to the level of the individual. Each Nigerian created its own values that were principally centred on ‘making a success of life’ by hook or crook.
There emerged a new class of Nigerians proficient in educational fraud and certificate forgeries. This new class have done very well for themselves across the nation.
This class of Nigerians can boast of ex-Speaker and ex-Senate President of the National Assemblies, some current State Governors, top businessmen and women and other political heavyweights in their ranks.
The values of low-lifers have become the noble values of the nation. It is therefore no longer surprising that the nations of Nigerian have gone down the drain. The rest of the world cannot help but marvel at Nigerians, the peoples of a country that is so richly blessed but greatly lacking in men and women of vision and character.
Breaking The Cycle of Misinformation
Dear Nigerian Youth, my generation was misinformed on many values that have guided or misguided our lives. Equally, my generation have misinformed your generation and you are likely to misinform the next generation coming after you unless the chain of the cycle of misinformation is shattered and broken.
A host of values that were passed down to us have not done the nations or the peoples any good. These values have in no small way corrupted our moral and ethical beliefs. The type of moral and ethical values a society holds dear will determine the speed of its emancipation from slavery into freedom.
Societies that are unable to breed thinkers who are capable of reflecting on the purpose of life and courageous in disseminating the theoretical and hypothetical propositions of their findings to the society from which noble values and goals can be crafted can never make any worthwhile progress beyond the inherited traditions of their ancestors.
There are many values and traditions Nigerians have inherited from both the ancient and modern ancestors that need proper review under the light of science, philosophy and common sense.
For example, the values that religion is teaching seems impotent to uplift the spiritual health of the nations but rather have succeeded in making zombies of most of us.
Religion has conditioned believers into non-thinking, non-reflecting, and non-questioning passive followers of all kinds of religious cults. You would have noticed that the religious beliefs passed down to your generation have failed to answer all the questions concerning the meaning of life to the satisfaction of the thinking few.
By parental indoctrination, you have been brainwashed into answering the claim of allegiance to one religion or the other even before you were old enough to reflect on the sense or senselessness of the dogma of the religion. Now, as an adult who is unable to see the sense of the weekly attendance at the assembly of worshippers, yet you lack the moral courage to own up and declare your unbelief in the theology of this faith.
The fear of rocking the boat of age long family traditions has stifled your thinking and has crippled your senses to the obvious illogical and mythical claims of your religion that have no bearing to historical realities. It is high time you allowed the natural laws that philosophy, science and other logical revelations have made known to mankind to guide your thinking and judgement as you make choices in the journey of your life.
It is only under the light of true knowledge that the task of turning Nigeria around can be achieved not on the dogma of some impracticable theologies.
A similar contradiction can be detected in the values of education. My generation was exposed to a simple equation of education that says, school education= paper certificate= instant white-collar employment. In this sense, we were introduced to school education as a means of acquiring a certificate for meal ticket. The content of the educational curriculum was irrelevant as long as we obtained the necessary letters after our names.
Every clever member of my generation that understood this equation went for the Golden Fleece in a big way. The driving force for our stay in schools, colleges and universities was certificate, certificate, and certificate. Now, you can see why most of my generation are intellectually challenged.
We lay claims to scholarship but we cannot produce the fruit of scholarship. The fruit of genuine education is creativity but this is a rarity among my generation. However, for my generation the equation worked wonders but you know that this equation is no longer working for your generation.
Many of you have possessed the certificates as the equation prescribed, although achieved by hook and crook, but there is no longer a job to be obtained. There is a need to review this mediocre equation before it fatally destroys your generation and the coming generation beyond redemption.
Ethical Values on Success
Also, my generation was conditioned and brainwashed to define success and achievement in terms of material possessions. As a result of this base value, all is fair as long as the end of the activity in question brings in loads of Naira. Since the advent of the military prodigal boys in the political arena of Nigeria, each family learned to condone evil as members kept quiet in the face of corrupt practices.
Members of family knew that Uncle Jeremiah, the Captain in the Army that was riding a brand new expensive car, building a palatial mansion and living an extravagant conspicuous life style could not have depended solely on his grade level 10 salary, yet nobody in the family had the moral courage or feel morally outraged to call Uncle Jeremiah to ethical questioning.
In fact, Uncle Jeremiah became the role model for other junior members of the family. Nigeria is full of Uncle Jeremiahs with no visible productive engagement but have great wealth oozing out of their ears.
Now, your generation has been infected with a warped and corrupt value that says ‘money is life’. It is therefore no longer surprising that your generation is pursuing money with every breath in your body.
Your generation is now fond of dreaming up all kinds of scam projects and 419 businesses for the purpose of swindling innocent people across the globe of their wealth without a pang of quilt.
Dear Youth, the fault is not in you but in the values under which you were born and bred. It is a ruinous value. It must be challenged.
Money is not life. Money is a man-made creation by the thinkers of the ancient world. It is designed to ease the problems of mutual exchange of commodities or trade among people. Commodities are the result of creative hard work either in agriculture or manufacturing that turns raw produce of agriculture and mining into other valuable goods.
You need ingenuity, commonsense and labour to add value to the raw materials that nature graciously provide for mankind. It is the value-added endeavours of mankind that can raise the quality of a commodity or product and make it valuable for exchange in the market. It is only under this arrangement that money can have its true meaning and usefulness.
My generation never learnt to create because our education was deficient in that area. Ours was an education enterprise that was directed solely for enhancing uncultured image, promoting soiled prestige, and acquiring unearned honours.
Need to Cultivate New Ethical Values
You can now see that without challenging these mediocre values, your creative abilities, your thinking and reasoning faculties shall remain dead to life. And unless these abilities and faculties are cultivated, revived and awakened, your status as the wretched of the earth will become perpetual.
You need to focus attention on the development of valuable skills, technical and technological know-how in any area that suits your ability and natural talent.
Let your work be your life and let the proud result of your value-added enterprises be the source of your prosperity and happiness.
Money that comes through dubious routes cannot secure peace and happiness. This kind of money distorts the moral and ethical virtues and corrupts the harmonious human and social relationships in societies. Immoral use and unethical pursuit of money are the shortest routes to lawlessness. Regrettably, this is the situation of Nigerian societies today.
Religion of Political Unity
Finally, there is another value that has attained the status of divinity in Nigeria. This is the value that holds sacred the unity of Nigeria as a political dogma and encourages all Nigerians to worship at the altar of unity.
Unfortunately, this religion of political unity has blatantly refused to accord equal regard to the sanctity of the principles and rights of all Nigerians to equality of persons, to true political freedom and to unfettered justice.
It is important to recognise that the enemies of progress and development in Nigeria are the political priests that preach the sanctity of national unity but deny the sacredness of your human rights to equality, freedom and justice.
By now without much ado, you must be able to recognise the patriots, the zealots and the unrepentant local exploiters that preach all day long about the political and economic importance of Nigeria as an indivisible entity but have no patience or respect for your rights to self determination and self governance.
These hypocritical patriots are ready to die for the unity of Nigeria but they are unwilling to sacrifice anything of themselves for the welfare of the people of Nigeria.
These hypocritical patriots see nothing wrong in robbing and carting away the treasures of Nigeria to safe havens outside Nigeria but are ever ready to shed crocodile tears for the unity of Nigeria.
These hypocritical patriots must be avoided like plagues. Without their complicity with unrepentant colonial slave masters, Nigeria could have been on a better footing than it is.
You can see from the short history of Nigeria above that there was nothing sacrosanct about Nigeria in its creation. In fact it was created in fraud to perpetrate inequality, exploitation, oppression, pillaging, and the looting of the wealth of the innocent indigenous people on the land.
Dear Nigerian Youth, the aforementioned debilitating values shall need your intellectual attention as quickly as possible because they are the invisible knots of your enslavement. Without shattering the shackles of ignorance, breaking the chains of age long misinformation, and untying the knots of colonial enslavement you can never attain freedom to explore, to invent, to create, to venture and to live your life the way you choose.
Dear Nigerian Youth, these are the issues you need to know about and address with vigour so that you don’t continue to live, like your parents, in a fool’s paradise. You need to understand why other races and nations of the world vilify and patronise you, insult and ridicule you and why they try to put you in the place they think you belong whenever you try to raise your head high or become too confident of your worth and rights as a human being.
The answer to this disrespect is found in the legacy of debt and of the slave mentality that your wayward parents have bequeathed to you.
It is my desire to challenge you so as to see these critical issues for what they are as unnecessary self inflicted pains. And to make you realise that these ugly scars that we are all carrying about can be healed; that these odious mentality that makes you look and behave like a fool can be corrected; and that these dying nations within Nigeria that are being stifled to a premature death can be redeemed and refashioned in the light of true knowledge and common sense.
You do not have to remain downtrodden for the rest of your life neither must you remain a footstool to the rest of the world. The answer to the problems is within your reach; it is found in the power that knowledge bestows to those that seek and search faithfully for the truth of existence.
As soon as you begin to pursue the search for knowledge with everything in you, the light and the spirit of truth shall reveal more of the incapacitating values that your parents have handed over to you as standard moral and ethical virtues. It is only by seeking a true knowledge on the meaning of life that you can secure the power and the courage to jettison the ingrained archaic colonial mentalities of your parents.
You need to realise that it is the subtle indoctrination of your parents into the delinquent foreign beliefs, religions, attitudes and un-African values on the questions that pertains to the meaning of life that stood between them and full enlightenment.
This writer hopes this short treatise will help you to see the need to overcome the obstacles of the alien cultures as you begin to cultivate the spirit of new values and virtues that are capable of seeing you through the struggle of political emancipation and spiritual rebirth as you climb to the pinnacle of true achievers in the noble journey of life.
May the spirit of truth be your teacher and your guide in the search for spiritual freedom and political emancipation.
May you be strong and courageous as you fight the moral battle of freedom against the values of untruthfulness, mendacity, hypocrisy, deception, duplicity and dishonesty in your life, in your family and in the society of your birth.
May the spirit of truth bless you with wisdom as you begin the creative work of rebuilding the geographical space called Nigeria on a sound footing of knowledge, love, equality, freedom and justice for all.
In the Spirit of Truth
Sam Abbd Israel
11 May 2002