By Muhammed Abdullahi
With pains and bitterness, albeit in different guises, locked up in our hearts, the youths of this country now have almost the same aspiration and challenges.
Whatever language we speak, and whichever part of the country we come from, the story of an average Nigerian youth today is the same, from the South to the North, from the North to the West. We are all a bunch of deprived, under-valued and unappreciated individuals.
An average Nigerian youth today carries with him one story of bitterness or the other. Although he sings the national anthem and pretends to emulate the Americans by saying ‘God bless Nigeria’, his resentment for the country, occasioned by bad leadership and mis-governance, is very obvious. We are angry and aggrieved.
Many of us have chosen violence to express our anger; another percentage has chosen crime, assaulting ladies and snatching people’s money on the highways or their homes; while a large percentage have chosen to vent their anger using the pen. I belong to the last category.
As I said in the foregoing, the story of the Nigerian youth is the same everywhere, and this explains why I will use the first person singular number in the remainder of this write-up. Therefore, when I use the “I” letter in subsequent paragraphs, I merely use myself as a representative of the deprived youth of Nigeria.
I was born in the ‘80s, and so can claim my rightful position as a prominent member of the present generation of Nigerians whose lives have been perceived as just an appendix to the lives of those who consider themselves worthier than the rest of us. These are the people who enjoyed the best of Nigeria and still do, but who have continued to deny those of us who arrived later in the years the right to decent life which they had and still have. Am I not a brother?
Most of these people who now consider themselves more equal than my generation enjoyed the benefit of free and qualitative education, both of which I was denied. They enjoyed basic protection and services from the governments of their time, but they have forgotten all the privileges they had and now ride roughshod on my own rights as a citizen of the same free country under God. Am I not a brother?
Most of them, as revealed in the oil subsidy fraud, believe that crispy dollar notes are worthier than my life. Those involved bargained away my life while I was somewhere in the sun stretching my muscle and expecting that the fairness of my government would guarantee a just reward for my sweat and effort. Am I not a brother?
Even when I struggled through school, I still would not get a decent job, if I get any at all, to sustain me. Instead, I will be told by the demigods in Abuja to go out and struggle for my daily bread; because, as they often argue, they also struggled to attain whatever positions they now hold. But I have been struggling all this while, and the same set of people who ask me to struggle continue to frustrate my effort. Am I not brother?
The politicians of my country won’t tell me they never had to struggle and suffer as much as I am now doing; and that they had jobs and cars, and sometimes accommodation, waiting for them even before they graduated. As my country grows in population, my government did not make plans to accommodate the increasing births. No jobs were created, no infrastructures were improved upon, and the huge revenue from oil which was at an all-time high in the years of my birth was frittered away through unbridled kleptomania and corruption. But am I not a brother?
I ask: Why must I look in envy each time I see my age mate, who were privileged to be born by the privileged few riding in posh cars and enjoying the best of life? Are we not citizens of the same Nigeria, protected by the same government and constitution? Why must I be given the unpleasant excuse that all animals are not equal each time I demand for what should rightfully be mine? Am I not a brother?
Why is it that to the leaders of my country, I am nothing other than a pawn on their chessboard? I am here rejoicing that justice will be done to those who further impoverish me through their subsidy claims, but some people are somewhere trading my life away. Even when they were caught exchanging bribes, a government that should frown at such practice and distance itself from those involved is edging them on. Am I not a brother?