By Ladi Ayodeji
Professor Wole Soyinka once described his generation as the “wasted generation”. I wonder how the Nobel laureate would describe this generation, with the pervading crime wave rocking the nation from different angles. Let’s go on a journey through the landscape of this generation of youths to see how prepared they are as future leaders.
The media is awash with daily reports of kidnapping for ransom, rape, ritual killings, terror attacks, sectarian violence, Internet fraud, credit card scams, pornography, ghoulish murders by bizarre cult groups, armed robberies, etc. The mayhem being unleashed on this nation by the present generation of Nigerians is unheard of and mind-boggling.
Sometimes, watching the news is like seeing the latest horror movie. Living in Lagos, reported as the second worst city to live in, has become a nightmare for many. Today, commuters not only have to endure frustrating traffic snarls, they live in constant fear of being kidnapped by “one chance” bus drivers. If you drive your own car, you face threats of extortion by police, LASTMA and Road Safety officials. What a life!
Every morning, able-bodied young men crowd around vendors, arguing about the English Premier League football; sometimes the invectives they throw at each other over games degenerate into street fights. In the cacophony of voices around the newsstands, you hear senseless debates over Biafra, recession, Buhari’s health, etc, and you wonder if these kids have any ounce of intelligence. They engage in noisy arguments that have little logic and no substance.
Visit the cyber café, you’d be shocked to see young boys and girls in school uniform, browsing the Internet, looking for obscene sites, sex partners and other unholy liaisons. They sit side-by-side with young adults whose stock in trade is to prey on their latest victims of Internet fraud. Space would not permit me to chronicle the degeneration of our moral ethos in this generation.
This, indeed, is a wasting generation! No other generation presents greater opportunities for personal development or self-actualisation than this one, because of the rapid expansion of knowledge due to the Internet revolution, but our youths are unable to take advantage of this massive breakthrough. Instead, due largely to the appalling failure of leadership in this country, they have embraced negativism and followed a defeatist lifestyle that promotes a culture of wealth without work, success by any means, get-rich-quick schemes, and pre-emptive seizure.
Unfortunately, some pastors of our new generation Pentecostal churches are not helping matters, with their extremist gospel of prosperity that brazenly promotes success without balancing such teachings with the other components of honesty, hard work and dignity of labour that account for genuine prosperity.
No attempt is being made here to invalidate the biblical principle of seed-faith upon which the prosperity teaching is based. I, however, insist that preachers must balance such teaching with the fact that wealth creation is also attainable through sound business principle as taught by Jesus in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30).
The good thing about life is that there’s always a chance to make good. All is not lost for this generation. It can still be redeemed, if we change the algorithm in everything we do, especially in the election of our political leaders. Every nation stands and falls on the leaders they enthrone. Nigerians must understand this.
Leadership is not about tribe, religion, gender, culture, race or even Ivy League education. Unfortunately, these are our yardsticks for electing leaders, which is why criminal elements and several faceless nonentities have governed this country in the past and impoverished its people. Leadership is about patriotism, competence, service, vision, ability, courage, mission-consciousness, equity, justice, transparency, fear of God, etc.
It is not impossible to find someone who espouses these qualities. It might be a tall order, it is not impossible. Primordial sentiments have put a veil over our eyes, so we are unable to see those young people who have the leadership qualities aforementioned. That is why Nigeria’s best leaders are not in power. They are on the streets roaming the wilderness of despair, looking for jobs they ought to create, the messiah they actually have the potential to become, if they are properly motivated, inspired or mentored to take over our nation.
Young Nigerians must wake up to hope. You’ve got the voting power to change your leaders, the intellectual or creative power to create wealth, ability to live and make a decent living, and develop yourself to your full potential without government help.
I have done that myself. I have only primary school education till date. I came to Lagos in December 1973 as a trained motor mechanic, a local roadside auto engineer. Today, I am a social engineer, as you can see in the footnote of this page. You, too, can make it. You can become somebody from nobody.
There’s a technology called “waste-to-wealth.” You can actually transform yourself from waste to wealth. If scientists can convert waste into energy that generates electricity, you can change your narrative by legitimate pursuits of worthy endeavours. Let me stop here for now. Please follow me and let’s try to resolve our leadership conundrum.
– Ayodeji, an author, conference speaker/pastor and life coach can be reached at email@example.com