Column Opinion

#ENDSARS: Nigeria Again At 11:59…

By Dr. Prince Charles Dickson

While in prison, Mahjoub wrote poems to elevate himself and to inspire those around him. Despite the prison walls that surrounded him, he never lost his blinding smile.

Born are the beautiful children, hour by hour

With brightest eyes and loving hearts,

Adorning the homeland, they come.

For bullets are not the seeds of life.

We need not renegotiate our unity but to understand it as a bond of cohesion, one of humanity with shared commonality and interdependency not some state policy. The gods are angry, the land is soiled, leadership has failed, again the nation is at 11:59 and our 12:00 is what we make of it.

The signs were there, the signs are there, what we do with these signs holds what kind of future we get, if we loose our blinding smile, it won’t be because we did not try, it will be because we sowed bullets for seeds, rather than understanding how to deal with the beauty in our youths today.

Cynicism is not the automatic mood for the youth; the fuel that young people require as they mature is hope. But hope is in short supply, and the ugliness of cynicism has trickled deep into the consciousness of young people. Institutions that allow hope to thrive are not as one might expect for young people who live in the Nigeria’s belts of poverty, in slum lands that run from what I call Lagos’s bastis in Ajegunle and Mushin to favelas called Angwas in the North, Cult ridden and drug infested Ruma Umasis and dens of struggle in the Niger Delta.

In these places, state-driven schooling is desiccated and formal employment sparse, far from providing hopeful avenues for youth. Rather, young people seek refuge in a range of groups, from fundamentalist religious organizations to mafia-like operations, which provide resources for individual advancement and social survival. But there are other young people for whom these sorts of groups are not enough. They are the likes of Monday, Kingsley, Femi, and Amina, drawn to the left and to self-organization to bring some decency into Nigeria.

The dossier shows that these young people struggle with a collapse of the social democratic institutions of the state, such as educational and welfare institutions. The state interprets the social crisis as a criminal crisis and expands its repressive side into these neighbourhoods, linking youth in particular to the idea of deviation and delinquency. Rather than feed children and not exactly with food but real change, it sends in police forces to suppress their protests. The transformation of the state and the advancement of an ideology that asks young people to become entrepreneurs through their own hard work – without much institutional support – create the basis for anger and cynicism. The employment situation, detailed in the current protests, is bleak and defined by temporary and informal work.

Bullets, as Mahjoub sang in prison, are not the seeds of life. The answers to our misery are so obvious, but they would cost the minority who control power, privilege, and property; they have a lot to lose, which is why they hold on so desperately. They sprinkle bullets on the world, pretending that they are seeds.

So this is what I want my young friends to know of the beloved country they seek to redeem, and a reminder to the old ones of what they created, or have refused to dismantle.

So in the midst of all the #ENDSARS protests my friend had to leave Umuahia to Port Harcourt to do an MRI scan, shaking my head, just the same way we leave Jos to Bauchi or Kaduna for an MRI scan.

Okay let me take my ‘flimsy’ debate a step further…In Plateau there is more in terms of medicare and health personnel than Yobe but in Yobe they have a more recent make of the MRI machine, it was redundant for quite some time as they trained personnel to man it. In Lagos that is not the case, but one of who can afford it, gets it.

You know that thing about how ‘we’ southerners know it all and have it all, the UCH, almighty and renowned University College Hospital Ibadan where it was said the Saudi royalty once upon a time came for their healthcare currently has barely a twenty bed ICU and recently had to take to ‘fine bara’ on the social space to raise funds.

Talk about this life no get balance like my son is wont to say many times. There are places in today’s Abia if you spoke ill of Don Nnamdi Kalu you are dead meat, but this same Abia boasts of Aba considered one of the dirtiest cities around and also industrious and neglected by the government.

Tell me the state and I will show where poverty is dancing and the people are drinking pove-tea from all strata of government. Daura in Katsina hasn’t produced an exceptional student and in no way as a result of the quality of teachers and schools at the president’s homestead and the state is plagued by insecurity.

Fake teachers from Abeokuta the cradle of knowledge to Jos, the land of natives and non-natives.

We shout restructure, I say no to those bogus English words, the same way I request that our young people understand that it is one thing to protest and another to know what you do really want; you don’t build something on nothing. There’s no structure or system to build upon. Yes, life no balance, before you bring the hangman’s noose, we must sit and talk about who we are and how we want to live, this revolt provides yet another opportunity for us to look forward, and understand where we are coming from, and take a leap with understanding on what needs to be done according to each peculiarity.

End this and end that and really start what, what are we committed to, what are we sacrificing for and to, what does Nigeria mean to us, let’s break it if that’s a solution, so pedestrian and easy, I will remind us when the arm dealers are sealing and dealing with The Nupe Warlords, Anaguta freedom fighters, Fulani that thing one thing and Hausa Aggrieved Warriors or Rare Igbo Union it won’t be funny.

The last Mohicans in our political space won’t give up that easy. I have often harped on our inability to have a common front on a subject matter, the collective is a rare commodity in our clime, the government in all strata know, so what they do is dissolve and reconstitute committees. Set up panels, reform forms and ask bodies to set up judiciary panels to do what the bodies should be doing.

Our problem is not youth, today there’s a youth as governor in one state like that, not sure how he has fared, a crop of the set of ’99 as legislators and governors were in their 30s and 40s. We need to ask young persons who are councils and local government chairpersons to own up, and man up. It is not just a nation, it is about asking governors to end the fiddling of state resources, it’s about governance at local levels…it is for young persons to understand who they are, what they want and how they want and how it will affect their future, until then can the revolution be televised, will it be successful—Only time will tell.

Contact the writer: pcdbooks@gmail.com

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