omeone once said "To forgive and to get over one's differences with another is a sure sign of strength that will pay off in the future." I do not know for a fact why the President; our own President Muhammadu Buhari chose to deride the sensibility of the average Nigerian youth in the manner in which he did nor would I tell the basis for such an assertion - which was to me, more an outburst from some deep-seated prejudice than it was the answer to the question in which he was meant to make an input.
Unfortunately, having read all the rage and vituperation that I could lay hands on and, having also heard a lot of angry analysis of the 'Insult of the Ages'; I find it hard to fault or to disagree with the verdict. Most of us - especially of my age - come from a certain kind of parenting in which we were mostly overprotected, brainwashed and programmed to believe that:
- Associations were dangerous as many have in the name of friendship acquired the habits of smoking, shoplifting, telling lies, truancy and knowing the opposite sex rather prematurely.
- Folks from certain tribes and/or religion were not to be found in our company if we were to make friends at all.
- The Civil War was one of the most pernicious acts ever carried out by a Nigerian. We were told that an attempt was engineered to break away from the federation but for the timely intervention of folks of certain region and that that patriotic act eventually justified the presumptuous position of these patriots to continue to enjoy an unfair advantage against the villains whose sins were the attempt to secede.
As we grew up and eventually became matured humans with a supposed mind of our own, we continued in these partitions where upbringing had carefully arranged us into. And so, when we sought for and cannot get employment with our government after school, we immediately relapsed into the game of blame for tribe, religion and politics.
Funny enough, our parents who played a vital role in conditioning our mindsets to work the way it did are now irritated by the outcome. Rather than see a generation that should surpass them in achievements; they instead see a bunch of youths who had all the incidences to blame as the reason why they could not be well placed.
In the North - for instance - where Mr. President hails from, the generations well before us (many of whom are dead now) cultured the sentiments of tribe and religion and used it to gain prominence in their time but decades later; they are appalled as to how the youths are mostly lazy, illiterates, drug addicts and criminals.
In the East, the Civil War has continued to be a hangover that never faded; a sad memory for every Nigerian of Eastern descent. That war has remained the mirror in which many of us chose to judge one another instead of to accept one another. Some of its many effects are seen and thus reminded us that we are where we are - in our journey to nationhood - because of the things that we decided to allow to continue to keep us apart.
In the Middle Belt, the issue of identity remains an opinion of the individual concerned. For as long as the goings were good, it was Arewa but when the killings become merciless; it was to hell with Arewa and to your tent O Israel. It is amazing - for me though - how that one wouldn't see all these and spit on us youths when we allowed ourselves to enter into quarrels that we knew so little of its origin.
Down South, folks from the Niger Delta region; a region where the country's wealth emanated from are made victims of a harsh circumstance and by their very legitimate demand for compensation have turned themselves into a region of Nigerians whose importance (they decided must be rated only through their lion share contribution to the overall economy of the federation); an opinion of self that continued to irk fellow compatriots especially from the North.
Now, what am I driving at? Simply this: President Buhari's verdict on the average Nigerian youth carried the venom that can only come from that parent who was irritated by the resort to blame for the system of his children instead of engaging competitively with their contemporaries. This is why the youths must wake out of the slumbered illusion that Nigeria's problems were tribe and religion; to the reality that Nigeria's assets were tribe and religion rather.
When we do this we will have triggered the evolution of a cosmopolitan culture that will enable us to not only effectively keep out of the corridors of power men like President Buhari and his generation come 2019 but also youths who are still living in the past where tribal and religious sentiments were certificates of merit. Reality has shown us that the task of fixing Nigeria was not one that depended on zoning neither did it depend on quota nor oil resources but on our ability to break off the chains of sentiment and elect competent folks based on pure competence come 2019.