_C. E. Oyibo
…Continued from New Rules, Part 1.
I am convinced that the principal problem facing the Nigerian youth is ignorance. He simply does not fully appreciate the fervor with which the Nigerian government daily plunders the country and obliterates the infinitesimal potential that remains of it. For if he knew, he and his cohort would have been at the helm of the string of revolts that came to be called the Arab Spring. If he knew what the government—across arms and levels—is doing to his future, he would be no less than vigorous in ejecting the ruffians-in-government from Abuja and state capitals across the country.
__But though the Nigerian youth’s ignorance is not merely accidental, ignorance in itself is not an irremovable curse; it can be alleviated by seeking knowledge. Sadly, this ameliorative factor is complicated by two issues: one, the Nigerian youth appears generally uninterested in seeking knowledge about the Nigerian historical context or its contemporary issues. Rather, he habitually accepts myths and urban legends circulated and repeated so often through idle gossip as to eventually transform into truths. No one verifies anything; everyone accepts everything. In this atmosphere, fact, fiction, and fabrication meld seamlessly so that the most bizarre and macabre of stories no longer shock or enrage. That most insidious of urban legends—that “anything can happen in Nigeria”—has become a self-fulfilling prophesy: today, anything can—and does—happen in Nigeria. The executive arm of government, as well as the legislative and judiciary are all compromised to equal degrees. Justice has long been understood to be a tradable commodity, available to the highest bidder. Public service, long relegated to oxymoronic status, is now broadly understood to mean public squandering, or better yet, public stealing. The National Assembly, the highest law-making body of the land, appears no more than a congress of the clueless; its members’ paths to office riddled with victims of political brigandage. Public service is now the greatest assurance of personal wealth, not even through the acquirer’s deployment of a modicum of entrepreneurial acumen, but the unmitigated, outright appropriation of the public treasury, and its direct transmutation into private possession. No value is produced or exchanged, and no complex financial structuring is employed—at least for the mere purpose of paying homage to the collective intelligence by concealing the crime. Public officials simply move wealth from one account (the public’s) to another (the public official’s). Yet, the Nigerian youth renders not even the mutest of protests. I mean, yes, there are the perennial Facebook polemics and the banal beer-parlor banter on an assortment of tangential issues (think: the legislative proposal to ban gay marriage), or issues that address symptoms rather than root-causes (think: the Boko Haram debacle). Nevertheless, the Nigerian youth fails to be sufficiently enraged by the deliberately failing Nigerian governments as to take action as required by his citizenship. Why? Because deep down, he celebrates his subjugators. He secretly adores them. He wants to be like them when he grows up. He aspires to be them…
The other problem that complicates the amelioration of the Nigerian youth’s ignorance (that is, aside from his lack of interest in issues of import to his country in the first place) is not entirely his fault: it is the utter lack of information about anything in the country. I challenge the reader to go looking, for example, for information about national population trends over the past ten years, broken down by specific demographics, say five-year age cohorts for males and females, aggregated by state. I also wish the reader luck in finding even the mere data he would require to constitute, on his own, the answer to this inquiry. Information is missing partly because the government is inept beyond belief, but mostly because the government purposely wallows in its ineptitude in order to then cite the same ineptitude as alibi for its even more nefarious behavior—that it, to cover-up the astounding degree to which it relentlessly loots the treasury. This arrangement works out perfectly for the scoundrels in government: neither the culture nor the infrastructure for gathering, collating, and disseminating information has ever been there, and that deficiency turns out to be a boon to regimes of perpetual pilfering.
Pop quiz time: Tell me, how much did the—insert any Nigerian state—government receive in allocations and other revenues, last month? How much did it spend? On what? … I dare wager most Nigerian youth will be unable to answer these questions, for one or both of two reasons: one, they simply do not care to be bothered by the import of these questions; or, two, if they do care, they would be unlikely to find the information with which to construct a cogent response because the government deliberately withholds or obscures such information. The first reason for the failure is squarely the fault of the Nigerian youth, a fault which he must correct if he is to take his country from the conniving cabal of the failed generation, and, equally importantly, if he is to ever relieve himself of the constraint imposed on him on account of the second.
Continued in Part III…
December 1, 2011