NIGERIA, in recent time, has carved a name for itself in the world as the most populous nation on the African continent. This has led to the assertion by many business analysts that it is one of the most promising investment destinations due to the large consumer market it has. As promising and good as this might sound, Nigeria is also a country that is plagued with recurrent political, ethnic and religious crises. This has succeeded in delaying or in most cases stopped investors from tapping into its vast consumer market and so, Nigeria remains a country with vast opportunities but with little to show in terms of development and the welfare of its citizens.
For any populous nation, it is advantageous to have a higher working population (made up of able youths) than the dependent population (the aged and young). This way, the nation can be able to provide and address its basic needs as well as make provision for its future needs. Every ideal society needs to maintain such balance hence the need for it to take maximum care of the education and welfare of its youth. By education, it needs to identify what is best for its growth and success financially, morally, in terms of development both infrastructural and technological, politically, amongst other relevant areas and set out curricula that best suit these needs. By welfare, it needs to address issues of health, equality and employment. Every nation knows that having a large amount of educated youth without employment and equality leads to social vices and insecurity. It is a catalyst of chaos and must be avoided.
This is what is done in ideal societies and unfortunately, Nigeria as we know it, cannot be classified as such because past mistakes have not been corrected or learned from. Corruption, inequality, ignorance, poverty, ethnicity, religious fanaticism, faulty curricula and total lack of political will are the order of the day. Everyone justifies his/her individual inclination or welfare rather than what is best for the generality of society. Thinking is done along the line of ‘me and family first’ rather than ‘the nation at large’. Everyone wants to do all it takes to ‘survive in these streets’ and this is justifiable to any Nigerian because he/she believes that nothing can be done to change the way things are done. It’s a “well, if you can’t beat them, join them” society or as well-known amongst Nigerians, “it’s all man for himself”.
Imagine what will happen then in a society with such mindset and ideology but with the least opportunities. What was the government thinking when it decides to invite 6 million youths to ‘jostle’ for jobs that could only be given to 4500? Was it hoping to be termed as a government that believes in equality and fairness? Certainly not, because in nations that believe in equality and fairness, the right amount of jobs would be provided and only those who are truly qualified would be invited. Was it hoping that the recruitment exercise would be without incident? Certainly not, because they told those invited, that exams would commence by 7a.m but could not be found within the venues at the time stated and only opened a gate out of more than seven that were available when they finally arrived. Was it trying to take Nigerians for a ride in their deception? Certainly, because they, like every Nigerian, know that “it’s all man for himself”.
This is the tragedy that Nigerians live with. The tragedy of leadership not caring about their decisions because they or their ‘friends’ in power have put in legislation which gives them immunity from prosecution, the tragedy of leadership not devising appropriate measures to tackle their fears and support their hopes, dreams and aspirations, the tragedy of leadership diverting their attention from the truth by pitching them against one another on the borders of religion and ethnicity, the tragedy of leadership who only ‘care’ when they come home after four years to gain votes so they could continue to plunder, the tragedy of leadership making us believe that we cannot change how things are done.
Democracy, as known throughout the world, is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a government in which power resides in the hands of the people and they are the ones who should be the determinants of their fate, together. They are the ones who should decide how they wish to be governed and what they envision as beneficial to all irrespective of differences. Democracy, in Nigeria, is a government of the ‘elite’, by the ‘elite’ and not surprisingly, for the ‘elite’. This is our tragedy. Once you are out of favor and considered detrimental to the ‘elite’, you become cut off.
Change is the only constant in life but also the only thing that requires sacrifice, time and zeal before it can be accomplished. As wisely put by Madiba, may he rest in peace, “change always seems impossible until it is done”. As Nigerians, we can allow the immigration recruitment saga where innocent youths filled with hopes and aspirations lost their lives to serve as a wake-up call for us to rise and demand what is right from our government or we can allow it fade away into the abyss of history for the same mistake to be repeated in the near future. The choice is ours, the people, together.
For the Minister of Interior to come out in the media and say that those who went for the recruitment exercise should have coordinated themselves properly to avoid the unfortunate stampede that caused deaths shows how detached the government truly is from its people. It shows the level of ‘I don’t care’ that exists in the heart of our leaders. This needs to change if we are to finally have a society we all can be proud of and in which we all are given equal opportunities.
May those who lost their lives rest in peace and may God grant their families and Nigerians the fortitude to bear the loss. May those who were injured, be granted full and speedy recovery. Amen.