(By Mark Columbus Orgu)
“The most essential thing is the readiness of this generation to decide to take that which is their fundamental right such as the right to good living, freedom, quality education, security, infrastructural development, social justice, access to information on the activities of our elected and appointed leaders in various capacities. Our value system must be retraced and restructured to suit our belief.“
TRULY, the youths of yesterday are the leaders of today and they have failed us in all areas of human endeavours such as provision of basic infrastructural development, manpower training, and unemployment, denied and robbed of quality education, social amenities, security, true leadership, true religion, parenting and good governance.
The youths of yesterday who are now leaders in various capacities of our lives enjoyed good moral parenting and government entitlement such as bursary, scholarship, free meals, excursion to foreign lands, access to quality education and standard of living and, of course, security was a priority. Our culture and values were being preserved and respected unlike now that foreign culture has devalued same making the youth of today to forget their fatherland culture. In those days, it wasn’t like that. In fact, our culture was a real investment and tourist attraction by our foreign brothers and sisters.
Education that is supposed to nurture and change our thinking on moral values and respect for our culture is making it worse day by day because of the weak structure and government insensitivity in putting the right structure in place for the right people at the right time to manage.
The late Prof. Chinua Achebe in his book ‘’There was a country’’ a personal history of Biafra tells us how his geography teacher on a hot and humid day came to teach them a lesson on the geography of Great Britain instead of their local geography or even Nigeria. And then, the ‘Village Madman’ came by, and after standing and listening to the teacher’s lesson for a short while, walked up to him, snatched the chalk from the teacher’s hand, wiped the chalkboard, and then proceeded to give us an extended lesson on Ogidi, Achebe hometown. The late Prof Achebe narrated that amazingly, the teacher let all this take place without interference. Looking back, it is instructive, in my estimation, that a so-called madman whose clarity of perspectives, first identified the congruity of our situation, that the pupil would benefit not only from the colonial education but also by instruction about their own history and culture.
My brothers, in Nigeria, that is where we are today. Our education that is supposed to be a ‘’redemption camp’’ is now a refinery of foreign bad culture. Our education that is suppose to refine and position us towards solving the challenges of mankind, is now in shackle and even worse, that mankind now uses his acquired knowledge to intimidate his fellow mankind. In the past, education was seen as a ‘’true repository of man’s fall and shortcoming’’.
Today, human capacity building through education training initiative is at minimum leaving Nigerians who are from well to do homes to go abroad to acquire quality education and make the host nations economy benefit to the detriment of ours. In the end it also results in brain drain. It was reported years back that 71,000 Nigerians who are studying in Ghana alone paid N155 billion yearly to their host country. The Network of Migration Research on Africa (NORMRA), a research body, worsens the situation. In their report more than 10,090 Nigerians were granted visa to United Kingdom (UK) in 2009 and they paid the total sum of N42 billion. We can imagine what the figure and the number would be for now. In the past, according to reports, Nigerian universities were known for academic excellence and research induction, well structured and planned curriculum. The aim was transformation of mankind and immense contribution to the society. Our professors then were known for meritorious end; they had pedigree, proven knowledge and values. Foreigners then dreaded our students because they know that they were grounded with first class information. In fact, Nigeria was a home of acquiring knowledge and research. Today, what is the situation? What happened? Whom should we ask? Should we ask our leaders who were the youths of yesterday and were beneficiaries of this noble gesture. Well, for me it is a mystery.
Meanwhile, on the return of those Nigerians who go abroad in search of quality education, high values are placed on their ‘’certificates and they stand at a more advantageous position than us whose certificates are tagged local certificates.’’ In the past, the employers of labour who themselves must have had their education in the country now discriminate. They are quick to employ those brandishing foreign certificates and not necessarily ability, or strong will and demonstration of competence but simply because the certificates are foreign sourced. Certificate has become a basis and criteria to adjudge individuals whereas in the past the reverse was the case. This alone has created a dichotomy that is very difficult to redeem by Nigerians, not even the youths who manage to graduate from our institutions.
This worrisome situation can be redeemed by employers of labour and practical government policies. Yes, of course, the government may distance itself from this because their children and beneficiaries are involved in education tourism and knowledge induction. It may look like a trite notion if I say that even some with the so-called ‘Foreign Certificates’ cannot compete practically with those who obtained theirs at home. This maybe debatable if only we acknowledge the fact that in the midst of many failures, you will also have at least one success.
In the past, before you graduated from any higher institution of learning, jobs were already waiting, at least to cater for yourself and show little kindness to you parents and those who must have assisted you in one way or the other while in school. Many were recruited while still in school. Today the story is different such that it is still the parents who see to the upkeep of their wards. Sometimes this goes on for six years post-graduation. What an irony! This is food for thought. Some are left to drift to an option of social vices such as arm robbery, prostitution, thuggery, militancy, terrorism, drug abuse and trafficking. Even some of those who manage to sneak out the country get entangled in the same vices because of frustration. These were not the dream of our heroes past; they fought our fight and shed their blood in ensuring that we have a better day ahead.
When will this generation have it right? When will they take their destiny in their hands? Would they want to depend on illusory empty promises of our politicians or take the bull by the horns? Our youths must bend the rod when it is red hot. The destiny of our future is in the hands of our youths of today. What that future holds in stock is not shielded away from us.
The most essential thing is the readiness of this generation to decide to take that which is their fundamental right such as the right to good living, freedom, quality education, security, infrastructural development, social justice, access to information on the activities of our elected and appointed leaders in various capacities. Our value system must be retraced and restructured to suit our belief.
Our leaders should also remember that they were once like us –youths. Better foundation and structure was laid for them and other leaders of this nation. Therefore, steps should be taken to rekindle the fallen spirit. Lets us begin to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in all ramification.
Finally, if the youths of yesterday who are now leaders in various capacities could fail this generation, what is the guarantee that the youths of today on becoming leaders tomorrow would not fail their generation? That is the million dollar question waiting for an answer.
• Orgu is a final-year student, Business Education, School of Technical Education, Yabatech, Yaba, Lagos.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”