By Martin- Hassan Eze
Alhaji Abu was our landlord in the Sabon Pegi area of Lafia the Nasarawa state capital. We nick-named him ‘yara manya gobe’(children, leaders of tomorrow) because each time he came visiting, he could encourage us to take our studies serious because we were the leaders of tomorrow. Though a Muslim, Alhaji Abu saw us as his children and played the role of a father to us.
Regrettably, from East to west, North and South, Nigerian youths are busy fanning the embers ethnicism, sectionalism and tribalism at the expense of peace and national unity.
How I wish my tears would help remedy the bloody and messy situation we find ourselves. Memories have magical powers and when it re-instates the blissful childhood I enjoyed in the North, I cannot but wish our ruinous leaders will kiss the viper and romance a crocodile for their evil deeds.
We need to prophet to tell us we are seating on the proverbial keg of gun powder. One wonders what the feelings of Alhaji Abu will be like if he returns from the great beyond to behold a near failed state Nigeria is fast turning into.
The late supreme Pontiff, John Paul II extorted the youths to prove the importance of their youthfulness when he observed that “in your there is hope for you belong to the future and the future belongs to you”. While on a pastoral visit to Nigeria in 1982, he equally added that “youth is the age of hope, of promise, of enthusiasm, of plans. An ideal youth does not want to give up in the face of difficulties…youths believes in the better world and determines to do something to help bring about it”. I for one, is in the same page with the late Polish Bishop of Rome. But a mind-boggling question remains: Do Nigerian youths believe in a better Nigeria, a peaceful, progressive, prosperous and unified Nigeria?
The helpless and hapless situation Nigerian youths find themselves is “such a serious matter that nobody should fiddle while Rome burns” if youths are “manya gabe” (leaders of tomorrow) and yet championing all sort vicious agenda by the shameless and heartless political wolves in Nigeria to crave an image from a rotten wood, then the old woman have every reason to become uneasy whenever she hears the mention of dry bone in a proverb. Why must we avail ourselves as instrument of destruction for bloody old men who should be thinking of their graves?
The future of Nigeria to a certain sense is measured or tied to the future of its youths. Our concern here is rather an introspective self-questioning one:
How far have Nigeria youths gone in defining our collective existence as a people?
How far have we championed or have addressed the socio-political, economic and religious problems that stare us daily in our faces?
We may in the end answer the very important question asked by Rev. Fr Jerome Madueke “what kind of youths are we expecting to emerge from the present society to set pace for the future of our dear country: Anarchist or patriotic, lunatic or sober, confuse or calculated, indolent or hardworking depraved or well behaved”?
Here, the episode of the Burundi-34 can be an eye opener for Nigerian youths on the need to defend our unity through thick and thin. During the Burundian civil war occasioned by ethnicism, Burundi was drunk with ethnic cleansing which pitched the Tutsi- dominated army and the armed majority Hutu rebels following the killing of democratically elected president Melchoir Ndadaye in October 1993.
On Monday, April 28 1997 a soul touching incident happened. Armed Hutu rebels storm the Catholic Major Seminary in the Provincial Capital forcing the thirty-four resident seminarians to the courtyard in front of the Chapel. The Rebels ordered them to separate themselves into Hutu and Tutsi. However, the Seminarians chose to die for unity and love. They refused to obey the order and were cruelly murdered. This is a pure case of love and patriotism overriding ethnicism and sectionalism. One wonders what it will be like if the same occasion presents itself in Nigeria.
Nigerian youths, are our actions and inactions aimed at exorcising the ghost of ethnicism, regionalism and tribalism in the polity?
Ola Rotimi has said it all “not to do something is to be crippled fast, and to lie down resigned to fate is madness the world is struggle” It is our collective responsibilities to make Nigeria great again as youths. Let us , as leaders of tomorrow , build bridges and cement national unity and cohesion. It is worth our efforts. We have no other nation than Nigeria.
Martin- Hassan Eze wrote in from Kontagora, Niger State.