I’m a part of what you might call the generation of today, a part of the 68% of the 170 million Nigerians that is ‘young’. Not the ’60-year-old’ ‘yoot’ status political party members ascribe to themselves, the true demographic.
And I am different. I neither corrupt nor thieving, I do not appropriate the allocations or benefits of others to myself under any guise. I am a hardworking entrepreneur on the one hand, and an employee on the other. Why? Apart from the fact that I love to do both, and there are more than enough brain cells to allocate to both ventures, if I don’t hustle in the days of my youth, when will I?
There are millions of others like me, braving one unfavorable circumstance or the other to stay in their jobs or keep their businesses above water. Some of them have moved from being employees to employers themselves, others (just for the love of it) have founded social enterprises and devote the 24 hours they have each day to making sure that the next man has a better quality of life. All of this independent of government.
When ‘dependent’ on government, there are loads more who will not touch bribes, muddle figures, or taint themselves for a quick buck. They prefer to receive their wages with joy (or murmuring), and either find a way to augment it, or adjust their lifestyle to fit their budget.
People say of Nigerians that we are the happiest people on earth, regardless of fuel scarcity, epileptic (or non-existent) power supply, deplorable schools and Boko Haram (amongst others). We have also been described as the most hardworking and resilient. I believe all of that because I know how hard I work, and I have peers who make the hours I work look like child’s play.
I have a ‘Mama Put’ I patronize every time I’m in Abuja, I could swear by her meals! I was there recently, and my favorite, beans and plantain, was lukewarm, and I’d gotten used to piping hot food from there. Even worse, I bit on a stone!
Did I complain? Of course I did. Did I stop going there because of one incident? No. Why? Because one bad experience cannot be enough to cancel out all the brilliant meals I’ve had there. Same way you don’t bin a crate of eggs because you cracked open a rotten one. No, you try again.
It would be foolhardy to paint every Nigerian you meet with whatever evil brush you inadvertently acquired via the news, a local or foreign blog, or even worse, off hearsay. If you were wont to do that before, we forgive you.
Nigerian youth have excelled in spite of a glaring lack of good role models to follow. Where are they? From Babangida, to Abacha, Shonekan to Obasanjo, down to what we’ve got now, where is the inspiration? Just how much inspiration do all these great men muster between them? So precious little.
Yet we have thrived, soldiered on bravely in a landscape barren of support. We’re asking questions, championing causes, holding this government to account, and most important, we’re providing solutions.
I might not be able to say this about the others, but I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this generation, my generation is different.
PS – Written in May, after a discussion with @bubusn. Edited after a conversation with @eyooekpo.