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PLACE OF NIGERIAN YOUTHS IN THE EMERGING WORLD ORDER

It was a rare opportunity for me as a student to have attended Law Colloquium in Honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice Kayode Eso, at Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria on July 25, 2006 where former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, was invited as the guest speaker. While delivering his lecture, Prof. Soludo quoted famous Danish Philosopher and Theologian – Søren Kierkegaard– that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”. He made reference to this Philosophy with respect to the socio-economic environment in Nigeria as one beckoning for a social revolution rather than ready for an industrial revolution as once argued by late Pius Okigbo. His thought inspired further discourse on the need of our dear nation to join the first world economy and subsequently place of youth in national integration and development. Thus, my focus in this paper is to identify place of Nigerian youths in colonial and post-colonial struggles and more importantly to elaborate on social inclusiveness of Nigerian youths in the emerging world order.

Another perspective to Søren Kierkegaard Philosophy essentially mirrors the struggle of our founding fathers during their youthful age towards Nigerian independence. From August 6, 1861 when The Treaty of Cession between the then Oba of Lagos, his chiefs and the British Crown was signed through 1914 when the Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated resulting in the birth of Nigeria until October 1, 1960 when the union jack was historically lowered at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos, Nigerian youths have been at the forefront of national development.

Despite the discrepancies in colonial policy in terms of socio-economic projects, social development and establishment of administrative centres recognized by scholars and writers, Herbert Macaulay in his youth belief in the necessity for the people living in the British colony of Nigeria of multiple backgrounds to unite as one in order to be able to resist colonialism. This same philosophy led to the formation of National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) together with Dr Nnamdi Azikwe in 1944. Thus, Herbert Macaulay became NCNC first president, while Azikwe was its first secretary.

Obviously, the role of Nigerian youths in agitating for independence cannot be underestimated. The likes of Sir Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo together with aforementioned nationalists – Macaulay and Azikwe – including but not limited to Eyo Ita, Samuel Akisanya, Kofo Abayomi, Ernest Ikoli and H.O. Davies all of whom were at the forefront of Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) founded in Lagos in 1933, fought in their youthful days to deliver the political independence we all enjoy today. We can easily recollect with nostalgia how a young and vibrant Nigeria’s foremost pro-democracy activities, Anthony Enahoro, in 1953 became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence. Despite several political setbacks and defeats in parliament including an attempt by young SL Akintola in 1957, Remi Fani-Kayode revisited Enahoro’s motion and the motion was successfully passed by the parliament in 1958 which led to Nigerian independence on October 1, 1960.

On the other hand, the post-colonial struggles necessitate an inclusive social development for the youth. As noted by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the Focal Point on Youth aims to build an awareness of the global situation of young people, as well as promote their rights and aspirations.

Furthermore, the Agenda also works towards greater participation of young people in decision-making as a means of achieving peace and development.
Summarily, the Focal Point on Youth works to: enhance awareness of the global situation of youth and increase recognition of the rights and aspirations of youth; promote national youth policies, national youth coordinating mechanisms and national youth programmes of action as integral parts of social and economic development, in cooperation with both governmental and non-governmental organizations; and strengthen the participation of youth in decision-making processes at all levels in order to increase their impact on national development and international cooperation.

Coincidentally, the theme of the International Youth Day 2018 dwell exclusively on safe spaces for the youth whereby they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth.

Moreover, Goal 11 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) specifically emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization. Additionally, UNDP New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces for youth to enable them to interact with family and have constructive inter-generational dialogue as we are now having with Association of Nigerian Students, University of KwaZulu-Natal Independence Day Colloquium.

Furthermore, the United Nation (UN) framework on World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) which is the UN framework for youth development, prioritizes the provision of “leisure activities” as essential to the psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people. The framework asserted that as more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters, and the availability and accessibility of safe spaces becomes even more crucial to make this a reality.

In February 2010, three key objectives were identified and adopted by the UN Framework for specific actions essential to implement the objectives, which are:
Firstly, create awareness by increasing commitment and investment in youth. This can be achieved by increasing recognition of youth development as a smart investment by the public and private sectors; advocating for the recognition of young people’s contributions to national and community development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals; promoting understanding of inequalities amongst youth and how to effectively address the needs of the most disadvantaged; and fostering research and knowledge building on youth to better inform youth policies and programmes.
Secondly, mobilize and engage by increasing youth participation and partnerships. This can be achieved by institutionalizing mechanisms for youth participation in decision-making processes; supporting youth-led organizations and initiatives to enhance their contribution to society; and strengthening networks and partnerships among Governments, youth-led organizations, academia, civil society organizations, the private sector, the media and the UN system, to enhance commitment and support for holistic youth development.

Thirdly, connect and build bridges by increasing intercultural understanding among youth. This objective can be achieved by promoting youth interactions, networks and partnerships across cultures; and empowering and supporting youth as agents of social inclusion and peace.
This UN Framework also situate my submission in this paper in engaging Nigerian youths for national issues and programmes that are crucial in the prospect for nation building and national development. As a matter of utmost priority, Nigerian government should make concerted efforts in putting in place youth development structures as a catalyst for her national growth.

Above all, Nigerian youths are surely among the most talented and creative youths in the world. From Jessica Osita led five-member team of Save-A-Soul that won the 2018 Technovation Challenge in US through Aliyu Jelani, the famous Nigerian Chevrolet Car Designer at General Motors in US to Silas Adekunle who is credited for building the world’s first gaming robot thus becoming the highest paid in the field of Robotic Engineering in 2018 and several other Nigerian youths who are among “the thousands and one shining flowers in the jungle unseen” (apology to William Shakespeare) including but not limited to Dr Chukwuka Monyei in South Africa, Nigerian youths are fast learners; they have the ability to work under pressure and bring out desired result for any organization or institution.

Undoubtedly, I will like to conclude with the words of British statesman who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli that: “We live in an age when to be young and to be indifferent can be no longer synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.” God bless Nigeria!

 

[Being a keynote address delivered on September 29, 2018 at Independent Day Colloquium of Association of Nigerian Students, University of KwaZulu-Natal (ANSU), Howard College Campus, South Africa.]

Ending The Cycle of Madness: Reexamining The Third Option

I voted President Buhari in the last election. But no, it wasn’t because I thought he could change anything; I have never seen him as anything but a living and breathing disaster. I voted for him because I overrated the ability of Nigerians to think and reason correctly.

My thought was that if President Buhari failed (as I knew he would), Nigerians would sit, think, and consider a “third option”. That was what birthed my THIRD OPTION crusade. I wrote then that the problems of this country are systemic and will never be solved by mere electoral gimmicks and reforms, but by a revolutionary third force.

As at that time, PDP had ruled. A Yoruba man had been President. A southerner had been President. My thought was that if a northerner and a product of the merger became President and failed too like the ones who came before him, Nigerians would see that Nigeria’s problems surpass an APC, PDP, North, South thing and unite to birth a third option that will painstakingly erode the old order, end this current shitstem that glorifies looters and celebrates lawless leaders and establish a new order where illegality and the madness that characterised the old shitstem can no longer thrive. But I was wrong.

We don’t think. It is said that when a man is pushed to the wall, he will turn back and fight. Not Nigerians. We will bang our head against that wall and keep bleeding instead of turning back to fight. We don’t think. Baba Fela was right to have described us all as zombies. We have handed over our brains to political and religious leaders.

Look, Nigeria has bigger problems than Buhari, APC, PDP or the north. We are suffering from systemic failures resulting from a system that harbours countless social contradictions. You don’t patch up systemic failures this pronounced; you either rise to end the system or continue in the four-year electoral delusion, hoping things would change only to discover that they won’t.

Come 2019, President Buhari will either be reelected or somebody else will become President. We will restart the cycle of hope and right before our eyes see it dashed like before. We will come on Facebook and our blogs and write beautiful grammar about how we have been let down and how we have to wait till 2023. We will console ourselves with: “Your voters card is your power. If he fails, we will remove him too.” But we lie.

How many failures do we have to witness before we become old and grey and leave a horrible country for our children? It is delusional to think that any real power lies in that voters card. The real power lies in our ability to think and take unpopular steps.

Our search for sanity in the midst of these chaos will yield no fruit until this shitstem is torn down. Until then, we will continue to elect the same folks under different party names. Party names will change. Slogans will change. Emblems will change. Portfolios will change. But what will remain constant is the suffering and groaning of the ordinary people.

The children of the ordinary people will continue to get crumbs and continue to be offered 23, 000 naira jobs for 2 years while the children of the illegal beneficiaries of this shitstem will continue to get backdoor appointments to CBN, FIRS, etc. Ordinary people have no future under this shitstem. Their only hope for a better life lies in the struggle for a new system where merit, equality, freedom are more than mere words on paper.

We must end this cycle of madness. It has gone on for too long. Some people have been singing “e go better” since 1960. E never better o. Some people have been voting since 1960, chanting slogans, “HOPE xxx”, “TRANSFORMATION XYZ”, “CHANGE ABC”. But nothing has changed. Nothing has been transformed. When will we wake up to see the insanity that we have embraced for far too long? When are we going to open our eyes to see the hopelessness of our hope? There is no future for ordinary people under this shitstem; their only shot at a better tomorrow is to end this shitstem.

As long as this shitstem lives, the dreams of ordinary people will remain buried. The death of this shitstem is the only force capable of rolling away the stone from the mouth of the tombstone where their dreams and aspirations lie buried. This cycle of madness has gone on for long enough; the time to end it is now.

A Review of Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid, by Semiu A. Akanmu

Aid, “a sum total of both concessional loans and grants”, from donors – mainly Western, to African countries has “hampered, stifled and retarded Africa’s development” is the thesis of Dambisa’s Dead Aid.  It is a tightly-argued book, combative, deep, factual, and above all, problem-solving.

Dead Aid – a 187-page, 2-part, and 10-chapter book – is an army on its own in the ranks of anti-aid dependency model for African development. It attacks the moralist and the liberal developmental narrative of Africa’s needs of aid to fight its plague of diseases, build its social and physical infrastructure, and alleviate the poverty of its people. Contrary to that, Dambisa argues, aid kills economic growth, stifles African entrepreneurship, promotes corruption, encourages coup and leadership despondency, and plagues African countries to more socioeconomic crisis.

“Sub-Saharan Africa remains the poorest region in the world with an average per capita income of roughly $1 a day…  Life expectancy has stagnated, adult literacy has plummeted, diseases ranging from bilharzia to cholera are on the rise, the income inequality is worrisome, political instability is raging”, she laments, and asks rhetorically, “Why is it that Africa, alone among the continents of the world seems to be locked into cycle of dysfunction? Why is it that out of all continents of the world, Africa seems unable to convincingly get its foot on the economic ladder?”  “The answer has its roots in aid,” she posits.

Dead Aid draws on a historical background to explain the rationale behind the constitution of aid development, and what would later translate to three organisations: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as World Bank), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Trade Organisation. It explains that, even though the concept helped in reconstructing Europe after the World War II, same cannot be said of Africa because: (a) no institutional framework, (b) no transparency and accountability, (c) no exit plan for aid injection, and more pathetic (d) not really meant for African development.

Dambisa listed the supporting proofs (Marshall plan, IDA graduates, with conditionalities, and a micro-macro paradox) of aid proponents, and dismantled each with potent empirical evidences and logical counter-explanation. She enumerated how “culture of dependency” naturally kills creativity, its casual effect on corruption because freebies are normally recklessly spent, and civil war. She lamented the civil society’s commodification of poverty to ensure tap of grants continues flowing, the inflationary effect of aid, among others.

What stand Dead Aid out are its alternative provisions. It strongly suggests viable and result-oriented routes that can be taken instead of the aid-dependency developmental model. It elicited capital market, foreign direct investment (FDI), trade, micro-financing and lending, remittances, and savings – with respective systematic planning and application. It, however, does not suggest an instantaneous shutoff of aid door. Rather, a planned phasing-out timeline is suggested so that African countries can explore and implement other dependable options. Likewise, it supports humanitarian aid which is occasionally meant as relief in times of natural disaster and epidemic.

What remains a debatable hypothesis, in the absence of empirical evidences, is whether aid moderates/correlates economic retrogression or causes it. Dambisa, knowing the strength of such assertions, tactically avoids it. However, she made veiled attribution of that when she writes “…where private capital trumps aid every time is on the question of governance”, “Good governance trumps all”, and  “…in a world of good governance, which will naturally emerge in the absence of the glut of aid…” What the above portends is that, good governance causes economic development, and it naturally exists in the absence of aid. We can rewrite it, as a pseudo-conceptual model, that: Aid (antecedent) leads to bad governance (mediator), then leads to economic retrogression.

Even though the question of what measures “bad governance” is open-ended, one is tempted to agree with the hypothesised linkage between aid, bad governance, and economic retrogression. In all African countries, South Africa and Botswana are most economically viable, according to Dambisa, and they took a non-aid-dependency developmental model.

Citation(s): Moyo, Dambisa. Dead aid : why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009, 188 p.

Culture and African Development: Recasting the Dice of Africa’s Future

Africa, the Dark Continent of Conrad, has for long been a victim of civilization. The legacies of colonization have sharply brought down her much cherished culture. Culture is the totality of man.

Many scholars have concluded that colonization brought nothing to Africa than slavery and loose of consciousness.  Walter Rodney expresses this in his book How European Underdeveloped Africa.  He listed many instances to include the economy and political life in Africa.

With a sharp contradiction, Albert sees Europe in Africa as a privilege for Africa to develop.  Africans could have developed better than where she currently is today. He blamed African leaders as the problem of development. Both scholars are right in their explanations and perspectives to the coins of colonization.

But I will like the Africans themselves to answer this question: What is the secret of Chinese development? Why have the Africans failed to develop? Walter-Rodney_How

The colonizers were religiously motivated to deliver the African countries from their leaders. This was one of the reasons for colonialism. Till today, the richest groups of people in Africa are the religious leaders. They use the church money on their names and families to build universities that their one-thousandths members cannot afford. The largest private universities in Africa are located in Nigeria. These universities are owned by Muslims and Christian leaders. These universities hardly give scholarship to their poor members who lived by hunger to pay tithes and offering. The colonizers gave out scholarships up till now to Africans while these leaders want to build heaven on earth with the gain of their worshiping centers. The irony is that while the Africans with scholarship will prefer to stay back rather than coming down to be polluted by the system of underdevelopment, the African religious leaders have successfully created their own religion that the poor Africans will worship through them.

Development is embedded in culture. African traditional leaders are nobody in the face of development. They are the neglected institutions. Colonial masters at first made use of the traditional leaders to purify the culture of the Africans.  These African leaders misused these opportunities and increased the yoke on the shoulders of their people. Yokes of physical slavery, extortion and power exaggerations brought a re-think of African traditional institution.

Ekeh (1975) felt that Africa’s ‘common men’ politicians planned to take over the sacred seat. They fought and did so through, and with, propaganda. The traditional institution lost the seats of powers to new African elites who found themselves and terribly in the shoes of traditional leaders. The traditional African culture had suddenly become a mere form of  cover picture of lion and lioness of a nursery kid. African traditional institutions were corrupt, fought for the sovereignty enjoyed by them before colonization. They refused to believe that democracy simply means lay down the sovereignty for general purposes.

African [leaders] elite tenure of African development is the second colonization. Here, Rodney was right that colonization was evil. But Rodney will be wrong to associate this to the white folks. Africans at this stage took ransom of other Africans. Sudan resolved to pre-colonial concept feudalism. South Sudan became the slaves for the north Sudan. In Nigeria, corruption brought unforeseen segregation. There are the poor, those who worked as slaves in different government and private parastatals, and the rich who also work in these places. The rich have access to the resources of the nation.  They steal and assist their foreign partners-in-crime to accelerated stinking wealthiness.   They made laws to chain the poor; they are always justified by the judicial arms of government. Rodney refuses to see the underdevelopment of Africa from the irresponsible leadership posture and lack of meaningful vision on the part of African rulers and people. Obama made it clear in his visit to Ghana in 2014 that African will only be developed by the Africans. It is a waste of time and resources to conclude that Europeans alone underdeveloped Africa.

African culture refused to develop Africa because of this development-mute of African leaders’ positions. China was a colony of the British but managed to emerge a developed country, her language and products, law are China-centered. Africa development is being hampered by Africans.