OPINION (5/9/2016): ZUKERBERG’S VISIT AND WHAT NIGERIA’S YOUTH CAN DO WITH POLITICAL POWER, BY TOYOSI AKERELE – OGUNSIJI
This for me, is a season of Mixed Feelings.
For once, I think our Public Sector Leaders and a few Young Nigerians should swap roles, positions, offices and responsibilities for some months for good measure of service, work ethic, effectiveness, vision and Leadership.
Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, 31, worth over 40 Billion Dollars visited Lagos last week, walked on the streets of Yaba without any pomp and circumstance, knelt behind children to see how they were writing code at Co – creation Hub and visited only businesses and ventures run by Young people, one of which he recently invested about 24 Billion Dollars – ANDELA.
The sterling efforts of our Youth excited and attracted Mark to our Country. He can sense the potential of Nigeria’s Tech Sector, he didn’t just visit our Country for a taste of Jollof Rice and Shrimps, he came to explore and consolidate his ties and relationship with the next big thing within the world tech business space – NIGERIA. Mark my words. That is a young lad who’s known for living intentionally.
Our Youth keep putting Nigeria on the Global Map in positive light around the World without much Government support or investment while our Governments continue to display steep lack of empathy and understanding about simple issues on matters that affect citizens and our livelihoods.
Just last week too, while in the middle of a recession, during which our People can barely feed or afford the very minimalist standards of living they used to manage to have, our Government announces an increase in the toll fare between Ikeja and Oshodi in Lagos Nigeria. There is no justification whatsoever for this at least, not now.
I have never been so upset with Government in a long time. After the 2015 elections, I made a decision to lean back and hope for the best while observing the plans and agenda of our new Government.
Our generation has upped the game in Entertainment. We are changing the world of, in and with Technology already.
Both Sectors have largely flourished with the Power of Organization and Collaboration. Government, Governance and Our Public Service have to be next.
It is my hope that the Pope, the UN Secretary General and the President of Nations of the World will visit Nigeria one day and it will not be merely to shake Hands with Old goons even if it is an afterthought but to see how Young Nigerians are reshaping, remaking and repositioning our Political System from one led and managed by the same group and clique of Clueless, Greedy Oldies to one that superintended by Young Savvy Leaders who know how to build roads, fix Education, create an enabling Environment for the Jobs of the Future to thrive, reward dignity in Labour over access or nepotism, deepen democracy, promote unity, provide security and clean water and deliver wholesome development to our people.
It’s not even their visits that would be weighty, it would be the fact that there would be key takeaways from Nigeria’s 360 degrees growth in the hands of a new generation with demonstrable resilience and capacity to tackle our problems from the standpoint of knowledge and commitment.
Brace Up Nigeria. I am convinced more than ever before that the Generation that will salvage our country is right before Us and 2019 will be the beginning.
The Road is dreary and the journey is long but we walk in Faith as we conquer our Fears.
To all the Young People who worked hard in the Nigerian Tech space even when Internet wasn’t Commonplace, we celebrate you.
Beyond Mark’s big endorsement of your hustle, it’s about your tenacity, courage, vision and long suffering.
I write this with Tears in my eyes because I know what Real “Change and Transformation” our Nation can experience when our Generation gets the opportunity of Political Service and Leadership. I mean, it shouldn’t be too difficult to Public Servants who travel so frequently to build decent airports in our major cities but they are blinded by corruption and self serving tendencies.
Nigeria can keep ignoring her Youth but Nigeria cannot do without us. They may have the money and power but we have the voices and the votes.
Our Nation is on the precipice. Jobs are being cut daily, our people are impoverished, our Government representatives feed fat on our commonwealth, the 2 major Political parties who display fake enimity during the day while they unite and negotiate to loot our Public Treasury at Night are one and the same.
The argument is that as Youth, we are inexperienced and naive but I hope Nigeria is aware that since independence, anything that has brought honour and glory to this nation has been spearheaded by young People – in Academics, Football, Entertainment and what not.
No single Political Leader out of Nigeria in the past 56 years has been a reference point of Exemplary Leadership, Vision, Integrity and other critical values that Elders bequeath as Legacies.
If you ask Nigerian children who their role models are, it will be a shame that no single President or Governor, Law Maker or whoever in any level of Government will fit that bill or make the list but ask young people in other Nations who their Models are, we can guess their answers.
America has John F Kennedy, Ghana has Jerry Rawlings, South Africa has Nelson Mandela, Singapore has Lee Kuan Yew, Tanzania has Julius Nyerere, Burkina Faso has Thomas Sankara, who does Nigeria have?
Civil Society, NGOs, Businesses and Individuals have the combined power of mobilizing for change and social justice but the Policies made by Government are reponsible for the development.
Nigerian Young people did not wait for Government for set the frameworks for progress in certain sectors I mentioned earlier so waiting for Politicians who lack vision and compassion to hand over the baton of political Power to us is like waiting for a ship at the airport.
This is a Call to action to Nigeria’s “can do” generation to step forward and seek political Power.
There is a special space reserved for us on the Pages of History.
Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, a Social Entrepreneur is a Fellow and Candidate in the Mid Career Master in Public Administration Program at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government