Tijani Sheriffdeen: Is Nigeria The Land Of Lost Hope?

Countries around the world wake up every new day to do something different, and of course productive. They attend to the challenges their yesterday brought them, and draw brilliant inferences from them to improve on them today. When one understands this, one begins to wonder less on why their tomorrow is always a lesson for many others. Nations around the world who mean to develop and grow don’t look down on anything, especially elements capable of irreversible growth and development. Developed nations understand the impact every single member of a community has on that particular community, as such; they respect their contributions, suggestions, and complaints when they come because they are only meant to bring about growth or change when need be. Who respect opinions in Africa? Not to talk of Nigeria!

Nigeria is a country with over 180 million people, one of the facts we enjoy telling people, yet, with the status of a developing nation since ever. Why should a country have the number without it amounting to anything? Maybe this question is not as important as when we want to make the number we have count as a nation. Looking beyond population, Nigeria is blessed with bounteous natural resources, but it has only helped in tearing apart our nation, rather helping it gain good grounds. Maybe the only time Nigerians appreciate their ethnic diversity is when they have to come closer with Ayodeji Balogun’s (Wizkid) hit song titled “Come Closer”. Our ethnic diversity is a reason for us to worry as a nation as if other nations are monotonous in this regard.

Nations around the world see development and growth because their advancement is always seen as a collaborative effort, where everyone’s contributions matter. It’s expedient to note that the youth of developed nations see themselves as essential ingredients in the progress and phenomenal development of their states. I don’t want to believe it’s not the same case with African youth because they have overtime shown they are productive and creative too, with the unmatchable news of their achievements, which most time reach Africa from developed nations, with few exceptional cases. Doesn’t it look like something is wrong somewhere?

There is no much to why African youth, particularly Nigerian youth, are not involved in the developmental activities of their country, it’s because the society they have found themselves doesn’t respect opinions, especially if it doesn’t go in line with the idea of the ruling class. It all begins with having little or no concern about the education of young minds, so that they may not be able to get the right education to challenge situations and times unapologetically. And when this happens, it means we have a fair number of students who have the opportunity of getting a proper education. In getting the so-called proper education, most academic institutions in Nigeria, particularly tertiary institutions, water the thoughts of not being relevant and important that our society and her leaders have successfully planted in many. A good number of universities don’t respect the opinion of students; they want to dictate to them what their perception about everything should be. At the end, we have students who graduate from higher institutions without a mind of their own; the power of critical thinking is stolen from them. How then would the youth be helpful to their society?

If we must get things right as a nation, we must not forget that a nation like ours with a good number of young people wouldn’t work, if the youth who are supposed to be instrumental in the development of our state is one of the problems the nation must fix. Sixty percent of Nigeria’s population is the youth, how far would we go with no reasonable input from this bogus number? When a farmer continues to harvest forty percent of planted crops every now and then, with the remaining percent wasting away, where would the farmer stand? In comparison to others who get to smile at the turn-out of their laborious effort. Do we say the former doesn’t work hard? Not until he finds a lasting solution to how a good number of his crops waste away, he might still be in the same spot, if good luck doesn’t push him back.

Education is key for a nation that wants to stand tall, young minds should be given sound education, one that would help them with a sound mind, capable of thinking critically, then we can say we are heading somewhere. Higher institutions have a great role to play in ensuring students see themselves as instruments of development, rather than dictating functions that don’t bring about personal growth and development, which only helps them in becoming more irrelevant in a society that doesn’t place any value on them. Have you asked yourself why Nigerian youth leave this country and thrive in other countries, why do young professionals have to leave our country for greener pastures? Don’t you think a journey in the path of not looking into how the bulk of our population can be useful could spell greater doom? The line that we are not where we want to be, but not where we used to be is as old as the days of our founding fathers, where the development, growth, and opinion of the youth matters. Now, we are not where we used to be, and we are not where we want to be, we are lost, we don’t know where we are heading as a nation!

Tijani Sheriffdeen is an undergraduate student of the University of Ilorin. Tweets at docshe_42.