Wither Nigerian Youths


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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Wither Nigerian Youths! Wither My Jeans




Jaafar Jaafar






May 25, 2006 



It was my favourite jeans. It was a straight-tailored Levi’s denim I bought just recently. The type only those at MTN, PTDF, NLNG (not in any order) etc. afford to buy. On the fateful day that marked the end of the jeans, I was wearing a pair of light loafers (the type I often see with my brother at one of the telecoms companies) the jeans in question, and blue-and-white-check package shirt. Tied to my left wrist was a glitzy Chronograph Citizen and my choice perfume still lingered around. In my pocket, was a leather wallet housing only N50 note (my t.p.). Admittedly, I cut the image of the privileged few working with those top-grossing organisations, say MTN. As I walked towards my friends with a graceful gait, one even wondered if I owned one among the cars (Land Cruiser, BMW 3 series, Golf 4, 406 and blue Kia) hibernating under the shade. “No you are wrong, I have just ‘alighted’ from achaba,” I revealed.


It was on my way home sitting astride achaba when the incident occurred. We hit a boy who invented the murderous strategy of crossing the ever-busy Hadejia Road (Kano) with backward steps. We somersaulted and fell with a painful pratfall. The mangled wreckage of the motorcycle was lying upend. My body pained, my knee ached and my favourite jeans torn by the knee! Oh my jeans! As I touched the surface of the damage, I turned instantly lethargic. The shirt and the loafers had their own share. I was covered with dust. The pain was now subsiding, but looking at the hole in my jeans fanned the mental pain of losing my favourite jeans. Why was I worried? I can’t give tailor to darn it – patch in my jeans, Allah sawake (God forbid), I told my self. But why can’t I patch it despite the fact that I am not living off the fat of the land? Or, is it because of the little Western education I acquired?


I am writing this screed, telling such hard-luck story (take it in good part) because this is the way average Nigerian lives. All I am saying is the inability of Nigerian youth to cut his coat according to his size, to know who he is, and realise that he is destined to be a NIGERIAN, so he must BE NIGERIAN and must know how to live a Nigerian. If I were really in their shoes, I wouldn’t agonise the “death” of just a pair of jeans.


Those we force ourselves to plagiarise their lifestyles are doing quite well. Their remunerations can service their expensive lifestyles. As Hausa proverb says, “if the level of your hair is not the same as your friend’s, it is futile to imitate her hairdo/plait.” Why must I buy a pair of jeans that can buy me 3-4 pairs? The answer is: we tend to look classy while we don’t have the class. We tend to be choosy while we don’t have a choice. We tend to be fussy while we don’t have the purse. We delude ourselves because good life eluded us. Poor Nigerian youth! Why must we copy a life that is opposed to our status? Why can’t we understand that eating 3 square meal (even if na garri) is a privilege in this country? Sometime ago, a Minister told the country that masses were now doing well because we can afford a cup of tea and bread! Yet, perhaps unknown to him, some Nigerians still beg and scavenge! Why can’t we realise that appearing presentably in this country is so much a privilege? But we have an option: Why can’t we swim across bend-down market and obtain cheap but good clothing that matches our status? Gwanjo (Okrika)? Over my dead body, we will say.


Nigerian youth is one of the most consistent in world. We are very envious. Why must we waste our time and our hard-earn pittance to indulge in the process of acquiring visa? Is it because we envy those living abroad or is it because we think there are diamond trees there like neem trees in Northern Nigeria? We even think we will outlive those we leave at home if we gained entry into America, Europe, etc. Rubbish! Why, as one writer once queried, would a trained Nigerian doctor and lawyer serve as paramedic and paralegal respectively in the US?   Why don’t we remain and make Nigeria great (at least for the posterity)? We apply for US visa lottery umpteenth time without success, yet we still apply. I grinned sheepishly to myself when I applied the 5th time without success. I will never do it again – it’s like planting a candle and expect to pick its juicy (or is it waxy) fruits – Never! O’boy, don’t try, awoop dey run poket! They bled me white. Buy something (if you like, buy jeans) with your money than to give cyber cafés. If all of those who love to go to US, UK, etc would be allowed entry, certainly, we will nigerianize the atmosphere and the imaginary diamond trees will soon be extinct.


But why can’t our atmosphere be great despite the fact that we are rich? Why can’t the government create a semi-egalitarian society that will instil in us the sense of belonging, equity and fairness? How can you pay a fresh graduate working with Federal Ministry N20, 000.00 (I wonder if a person in this situation will deny bribe) while you pay his counterparts in some parastatals N70, 000.00 – N100 plus? Can’t we be envious?


I have a friend whose uncle suggested that he should start teaching since the “good jobs” are not forthcoming, if for nothing else but to make end meets. “Over my dead body, this is an insult!” He said. But life, I advised him, will never go the way everyone likes it to go. We propose but God disposes. Just thank God that you can get the teaching job – it’s also “connection.” If we all want to work with Nigeria-Sao Tome, then the place would be less attractive – at least, the jumbo pay will be pruned to look like that of “bad jobs.” If MTN, V-Mobile, Glo and the like will employ all the graduates being churned out every second from our universities, then the still-expensive call tariff may be hopped up to N200 per minute. Again, the masses will bear the brunt! We should accept the said ‘bad jobs’ that come (do they often come?) than to wait for the said good ones.


But who did all this to us? Simply put, it’s our leaders. What makes us not to cut our coats according to our sizes? Who creates the disparity in our country? All the questions carry the same answer – our leaders. They make life for us far from being bearable while they make their lives most bearable – they live in breathtaking affluence while we live in squalor. The children of the underprivileged strive for survival while their broiler children bowl along the town in customised wheel-spinning cars (that can make many people millionaires) basking in our gaze. We crane our scrawny necks to take a look only to find out that the owner is just our mate! Envy and jealousy will certainly overwhelm us. We pocket our emotions and start building castles on the air. Is it the said self-reliance, our leaders always preached the gospel of, that earns their children those state-of-the-art cars? I wonder.


Gone are the days when a poor man’s son gets admission into Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). Gone are the days when a poor man’s son/daughter gets admission into university. “You did not pass the interview,” they will now say (new excuse they now devised). A budding doctor, engineer, lawyer, colonel or police commissioner sired by a common man will end up a pharmacy technician, mechanic, bailiff, recruit, or constable! Poor Nigerians! Lest you hear you promising son or daughter dreaming NDA, King’s or Queen’s Colleges, ask the lad to perish the thoughts! Where they create void for the poor man’s children with glee and fanfare are Depot Zaria, Police Colleges in Sokoto, Maiduguri, etc., and other inauspicious jobs! The ongoing police recruitment exercise is good example.


Even the jobs or scholarships that should be awarded meritoriously, they finagle them for their children while they can not create an environment that creates more jobs or makes us self-reliant. “Nigerian youths are not self reliant, they do not struggle,” our leaders often say. How can we struggle while you always struggle to manipulate our share for your unmerited children? How can we be self-reliant while there is nothing to rely upon? They can make the impossible and spin our lives at their behest but they can not spin the fortune of the country fairly in the interest of all! They can make themselves great but they can not make the country great. They can fly their children to study abroad (and evade the incessant strikes they wilfully precipitate) with the tax payers’ money, while the hapless taxpayer’s children are left to rot in the strike-infested environment. “Nigeria is a complex country,” the leader will say. How complex? Imagine an ostentatious country that its egoistic leader can buy N9billion jet but can not commit same to teachers or pensioners plight. Is it because you and your family are far from the stench of the rot you created and failed to deodorise? Or, is it because you’ve already secured “loans” and sbuilt companies, farms, etc that will take care of your great-grand children?


How can you fly your children abroad to treat common cold, headache, simple fracture, or for recess while you can not create an effective health insurance scheme, or supply affordable drugs to the hospitals? Why would you blame us for being envious or ingrates? Just recently, I heard somebody suffering from hypertension complaining about how he can buy the drugs prescribed by the doctor. He says that thinking about how to get the money to buy the drugs increases his blood pressure the more. So now millions of Nigerians will die for a curable ailment just because they are poor? Also, underprivileged Nigerian graduates will die unemployed? And, good life for us forever remains a mirage? Wither the masses! Why can’t the government cut its expenditure and improve the social life of a common man? As these questions came to mind while I was typing this last night (Sunday), I welled up some tears behind my mind, shook my head in despair and concluded that our leaders lack focus.





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