‬Article,’ The Youths & Absence Of Liberal Education’

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The type of education the people of my generation received is the kind that didn’t teach us to be liberal and to have an open mind but the type where we were ( are) taught to be slaves to our history and culture. After our baccalaureate which should have stretched our minds, we still judge people and only love our kind. The type of education the youths in Nigeria receive is the type without the culture of interdependence. Small wonder we have become narcissistic in our attitudes.

Our universities instead of being free from the court of public opinion without, is influenced by it within, so much that students for whom the future of the country rest can now settle accounts with Vice Chancellors and engage them in the paroxysm of shouting matches.

Now you see why we work ourselves to a frazzle trying to have a national philosophy.
While I remember, shortly before the 2015 general elections, I discussed politics with some youths and harangued on ‘for’ and ‘against’ ‘this’ and ‘that’ candidate. On the eve of election day I reminded them about voting the next day but I was shocked when they all told me that they weren’t going to vote. One said he had bought enough fuel to watch movies on election day.

The youths have refused to increase their vanishing points, to give latitude to people not like them and to partake in national life positively.

The razor-sharp level of disunity in Nigeria need not be if the political awareness of youths is high and if they focus on issues.
They love to argue for argument’s sake and to win that argument the Shakespearean way: by ridiculing you and tearing you to smithereens if you give them the chance, so you would refrain from thinking.

Often when they argue to win, they resort to falsehood to misinform people. They are quick on the draw and give the nod of askance when listeners contradict them. They enjoy it when listeners shout “good onya” to the lies they propagate.

Anything short of that will provoke a “where are you from?” question to snipe at you and avoid the tortuous mental strain of intellectual discussion.
“Where are you from?” Is an oft-repeated platitude by youths and is the easiest way by youths to avoid real dialogue even though, real dialogue makes people think.
Its amazing how some walk into a public place and start a random discussion, shoving lies. “Saudi Arabia dips into her reserve to
solve national problems. That’s the way to run a government
but, why can’t our government dip into our reserve?”

I wish I kiebitz with people I don’t know to inform. Saudi Arabia, can afford to do that because she has close to $800
billion USD in her reserve. That country has only recently reduced the salaries of all government workers by twenty percent. No thanks to the current world economy caused by the glut in oil. Nigeria is not a rich country. She only has a rich untapped potential. We lived above our means in the past and have less than $30 billion USD in our reserve.

The youths love blanket generalisations, how they love to attack the people instead of the system.

When the chance to inspect the inside of the brain present itself you expect a joust, but get an outburst, “that’s a lie. By
the way, where are you from?” They try to heckle you into
submission, losing the opportunity of intellectual intercourse. You ask for their own contrary argument but get a blank. Beyond emotionalism, there is nothing concrete.

So emotional, that they think the fellow next door as an inferior person. I had to tell some in a drug store the other day, “No person or race is inferior. God created us
equal. The Jews were once considered an inferior race by
Hitler in spite of the fact that they contribute(d)
meaningfully to every society they found themselves in.
Close to a dozen won the Nobel Prize and others likewise have achieved the same feat. How have you contributed your own bit to the cause of humanity?” I asked.

For some of us who aren’t members of political parties yet, we seem to be in a quandary. If you criticize this party’s
policies, you are accused of being a member of that party and vice versa. Such accusations naturally lead to the end of discussions and veer to avenues where you stop thinking.
Where you are from takes more precedence for the Nigerian youths than the substance of a discussion.

“Abah, hello. As a writer, what do you make of this government?” This person incidentally knows where I am from and needn’t ask. The challenge is that whilst he wants my honest views, he counters them immediately, while I speak. You would think we were competing. He leaves you frustrated because while he pretends to want to learn, he comes to the
discussion table with a restrictive vision of the mind.

Do you want to see young men with so much energy glorying in
gossip, denouncing people, and regions? You will see many Aristotles with sharp intellect questioning where
people are from when you go to buy a broad sheet. They stop to read the headlines only. They do not buy these papers but claim to know everything without reading. How can they?
“Oh! Nigeria would have been great if we all speak the same language” some suggest. If that were true, how come North and South Korea have refused talks about reunification even
though they speak the same language and are homogeneous? Why has Somalia allowed the love for clans to destroy her despite homogeneity?

But when tomatoes are sent from the north, together with beef these youths don’t question where they come from. When the baskets “kwondo” used for collecting our tomatoes are made
from Ebonyi and other Eastern states, and sent to the north,
these youths do not question where they are from. When Kola nuts are cultivated massively from the South West and are consumed more than in the South West by northerners and easterners,
no one questions where they are from.

When we congregated to watch a Joseph Yobo testimonial match in Port Harcourt the other day,
we forgot to ask “where are we from.”

We shout “Up Nigeria!”
when our national team players converge to represent us at
international competitions.

When we have visions of opening religious homes, we don’t seek our relatives to attend services but those who aren’t like us.
I wonder how possible it is to obey and submit to the Lord
totally when we discriminate against his creation? But while we condemn others, we should bear it in mind that
we are no saints ourselves.

How can we even claim to be educated when our education is
not used to benefit the good of mankind? How can we bow down
to the dictates of our tribe, that we are pure, but our purity isn’t demonstrated by generosity. What do we hope to leave behind for posterity, a great soul or a heel?

If the jews in America are in both parties (Democratic and Republican), why are our youths fraternally holding on to the garment of one party leading to the diminishing of ideological space? Are our youths even ideological about anything?

Regional identity politics is supreme to them over national identity politics, and so the youths prefer being a native of a tribe rather than being Nigerian. That is a narrow-minded way of looking at life and humanity.
Where then is the place of Humanity? Humanity refers to all of us and not your kind only. Humanity rules regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.

Anybody who gives unconditional love shows compassion, cooperates with all, is generous, humble, does the right thing, is kind, respects all without the use of expletives and invectives, is patient, is a human being. People who do not care for the interest of others are not human beings.
Human beings ask questions and do not accept the status quo with a fervent salute. Provision of the dole of democracy is a right and not a privilege.

Nelson Mandela said, “To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Can our youth look along those lines to reach compromises and reach out to the ‘other side’ to win national goals?


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