For 53 odd years, we have become so inured with misgovernance. We have acclimatized to the peculiar and perverse triad of mediocrity, impunity and corruption. For decades, we simply shrug our shoulders, put our moral compasses away and pray for God to help Nigeria in our usual indolent ways.
My dear readers and Nigerian youths, I have read each and every mail you sent, I have monitored your comments to my articles on PREMIUM TIMES Facebook page. The leitmotif in your feedback is change and how can it be engineered. The recurring question in your feedback, is when do we start acting instead of talking?
The time has come to act! I’m calling on you to join me to change this country. Why? Because I believe in you, I believe in those who wake me up on my Twitter feed once my article is out for the week. I believe in your passionate mail sent to my gmail and Facebook. I believe we can take this country back. We are at a critical juncture in Nigeria’s history. We have the benefit of options that kindles our existence and the unique combinations of exploding young demographics, unemployed population, outraged public opinion, political and economic opportunity, incensed activists and an army of aggressive and restive youth with lots of enthusiasm for change.
Positive, nonviolent and enduring change is our shared dreams and it is doable. How can this be done? This can be done by creating a mass movement for change. All we need to do is to believe we are the change this country needs, commit to change and fight to enthrone it. Our goal will be to transform this country, politicians cannot do it unless we bring our power to bear on them.
We elect politicians to reflect and project our values but only mass movements have the ability to truly transform societies. Exactly 53years to the date our judicial process is corrupted like every other facet of our national life because the bold hearted (except a few unsung activist lawyers) have not tested the system. In saner climes where there is independent judiciary, judges uphold, strike down, or look at existing laws with a new lens paving the way for new laws.
Without mass movements, political will and judicial resolve most often exist in a vacuum. Our movement will test the courts and laws and hold political officeholders to account if they continue to trample on the will of the governed. If you join us to build a progressive movement we can alter the political equation for decades and improve the lives of millions.
In established democracies, mass movements exists outside the law because they are protected by right. In Nigeria, we can only afford to exist outside electoral politics. With your help, we will seek to harness an assertion of popular leadership by the people without elections.
We will aim to persuade our people, the courts, politicians, civil society and unions to fall in line rather than blowing hot air and accepting maladministration as our fate. We will set to accomplish this through appeals to shared sets of deep and widely held convictions among the people we aim to mobilize.
Our movement will be based on widely held beliefs, reinforced by dense communications networks. We will nurture and sustained it not just by vertical communication between us but by lots of horizontal communication among the populace. Horizontal communication will help forge and reinforce our core values. It will serve to empower us to engage in behaviors that will further our core values and ideals. Our cooperation will help deliver bread and butter, foster ideals, build values, civic conduct, ethical construct and define focus for millions.
How do we build a progressive mass movement in a country with no respect or the rule of law? How do we propagate ideas when government indirectly controls the media? We must be grateful to fiercely independent new media like Premium Times whose only goal is to serve the new fresh and factual without recourse to any individual, group or beliefs; to social media. Information can no longer be caged, we will develop and deploy alternative communications strategies to get the masses to take a listen to our message. “No mass without masses and no movement without youth”.
Over the long term with your commitment and resolve, we must be able to fill halls and streets on short notice to press our demands in nonviolent protest. We will be skilled at organization, mobilization and be good at taking count. No progressive mass movement can be successful without a plan for channeling the energy and creativity of youth; the brightest and best young people of every generation have the least patience with injustice. You are not an exception. Permit me to remind you about how this country has undermined you and your future.
World class education, Hell class education and all things in between exists side by side in Nigeria. The dichotomy spells doom for the country socioeconomically. Six million children are born every year with unequal access. I am scandalized that some children attend elite schools with standby generators, air-conditioned classrooms, internationally certified teachers, outstanding curriculum in addition to co-curricular activities similar to what obtains in the best prep schools abroad for a stratospheric half a million per term. That is for preschool and elementary. Good secondary schools go for N2m – N3.5m.
In the same country, some kids still sit under the tree to learn, with ill equipped, most often unqualified and patently ignorant teachers. In public schools, the last set of good teachers were minted in 1976 and they are due for retirement. What foundation will your child have? What kind of University education awaits your child? Our education is an all too familiar story of neglect and anti-intellectualism. If you are angry about neglect of education, join us.
Nigeria is young and poor. I do not see old people at bus stops, What I see reflects our stark statistics. More than half the population are below 30, our country is breeding miscreants in millions. An uneducated nation is doomed and I’m afraid we are unless we act. Millions of you have not seen a country that works since you were born. Is there any hope for Nigeria when its youths are dishonored? Prove your strength through your numbers, prove your mettle, show this country that you are in the majority and have a say in how you are governed, join us.
We know the story. Many of you are unemployed because the government has refused to create the enabling environment for job creation. If you hold a bachelors degree and stuck as clerk in Dangote cement, join us. If you have an M.B.A but you still work at etisalat call center or in a Lebanese sweat shop somewhere in Oke-Afa join us. If you are unemployed and you managed to rake up enough money to buy a “third hand” Blackberry Curve just to be on Facebook join us.
Epidemic of drug problems
This is another shame that is not in the open yet. Until Benylin with codeine was made a prescription drug, it was practically flying off the shelf in Drug stores across the land. It flew off the shelf because your friends mix it with Hennessy XO to get really high. We now have a brewing drug problem simmering underneath, quietly destroying the defining fibre of your demographic. The use of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and other psychotropic drugs are widespread. You may know one or two friends who mix anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs with a certain energy drink for sexual high.
I have seen many guys with blue lips almost dead in a bid to enlarge the scope and reach of ecstasy. It is madness but very widespread and you know it. The poor ones among you up north sniff glue, they see their peers lose cognition with one year with accompanying slurred speech and eventual death. But what hope do they have with empty stomach, no education and no jobs? Your driver friends smoke dangerous mixes of pawpaw leaves and herbs containing heavy alkaloids and resins or drink them in concentrated extracts steeped in alcohol called Paraga, shepe etc.If you feel bad about this, join us.
Are you one of those who rely on Alomo, “opa ehin or agbo jedi” remedies (herbal mixes that cures anything from hemorrhoids to impotence” than hospitals? We know your story, just join us.
Are you incensed by the moral contortions of religion in this country and its usual lack of humanity’s moral strictures? Are you concerned by the unrestrained, aim-free, civilian-targeting violence that has paralyzed most states of the North due to terrorism? If you are, join us.
Unsafe and hazardous environment
Are you concerned about the environment you will grow old in and in which your child will be raised? Right now, Nigeria produces enormous waste and do not handle any. The country is swimming in plastic from “pure” and bottled water; a compound that takes between 20 – 450 years to decay depending on type unless recycled or expertly handled. Known carcinogens, heavy metals, radioactive and medical waste are dumped in landfills, lakes and the Lagoon without any care. Poor people rummage through the the pile of waste looking for stuff. Wastes are burned in the open polluting the environment. Transnationals discharge effluents into the lagoon compromising the ecosystem. Our rainforest is totally deforested, the Sahara encroaches perilously in the north threatening to render almost one third of the country arable land useless. If you are angry at the plunder of ecological resources and funds meant to protect it, join us.
National values, ethics and orientation
Derek Bok in his farewell address at Harvard said “Is it enough for Harvard to attract the brightest students, if we do not excel in making them caring, active, enlightened citizens and civic leaders?” We need a citizenry imbued with ethics, ideals, ideologies, morals, norms, morality and values. Sadly we seem to have none of these, we cling to religion for nothing and we stand for nothing. If this cheeses you off, join us.
Join Nigeria’s Soul Index on Facebook and invite your friends. Our group is nonviolent and nonpartisan. The group is open to Nigerians home an abroad without bias to gender, ethnicity, religion or any of those things that seeks to divide us. I will leave you this week with Dante Alighieri’s most famous quote – “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.” Let us take Nigeria back an inch at a time. Change!
Kindly follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo. Feed me back on firstname.lastname@example.org
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