Youth, Leadership and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria

In today’s world, everywhere you look these days, from books to seminars, conferences, magazine stories, someone is trying to peddle his version of tomorrow. Historians, economist, demographers, businessmen etc embark upon long range planning by looking at dates, detecting trends and estimating from the facts already known so as to tell in advance what is expected to happen. In fact in some part of the world, the year 2000 is practically over for the futurist, they now have their minds on the year 3000 and beyond.

In the history of the world, change often starts with the young. Young people look at the world with fresh eyes. They see the world as it is and ask “why?” and imagine a different world and ask “why not?” George Bernard Shaw and Robert Kennedy asked these questions long ago, but young people today are asking them again.

As it is today there exist a certain degree of tension between what the youth of this nation has already achieved and what it should become. As far as we can see the people are unanimous in their conviction that economic and socio-political performance of this nation is far below its potential and expectations.

As one of my political mentors Late Sen.G.N.S Pwajok opined, Nigeria is a compelling paradox. On the other hand, a nation endowed with vast natural and human resources. But, on the other hand, a nation that has consistently, yielded to the curious paralysis of the will when it comes to judiciously harnessing the resources for her good. The Nigerian condition suggests a history of raised hopes and unrealized expectations; of want in the midst of plenty; of poverty in the midst of affluence and ‘doom’ in the midst of ‘boom’. There is today in Nigeria a conflict between the past and the present as well as between the present and the future.

As a nation, we have experienced years of civilian government and military rule through coups and periods of intense political strife. When there was increasing in oil earning, we witnessed influx of the petro-naira. However, the huge inflow of financial resources has not come close to solving the basic problem of mass—poverty. But unfortunately as we speak now, we don’t have such petro-naira anymore due to the fall of crude oil in the global market. In the present Nigeria, most States can’t even afford to pay salaries talk less of embarking on infrastructural projects.

Professor Chinua Achebe in his book “The Problem with Nigeria” has insisted that “the problem of Nigeria is simply and squarely the failure of leadership”. Thus beyond the past and present leadership, Achebe’s x-ray also posed fundamental questions about the potentials of the so called “new breed” or younger politicians to transform Nigeria into an economic prosperous country.

Young people have a major role to play in all of these by ensuring that democratic politics is not played along undemocratic lines so that the hope of political freedom and economic betterment does not continue to elude the people. In addition to their intellectual contribution and their ability to mobilize support, young people must maintain unique perspectives on issues bordering on the survival of Nigeria. This is more so in a situation where the capacity of democratic institutions has continued be whittled and citizens are turning their backs on politics. It is only a matter of time before the little advances recorded become consumed in the waters of unfolding contradictions if the youth are not oriented on the importance of peaceful coexistence, social growth and development. How our communities progress is determined to a large extent, on how much the youth are involved in building and designing the future. As Senator Pwajok observed, as we prepare for the future to avoid failure we need to take consideration of the following:

  1. We must realize the future is rushing on us as breakneck speed
  2. A leader’s concentration must not be on the past nor on the present but on the future
  3. Vision is an effective leader’s chief preoccupation
  4. This country can be reinvented with new generations of dreamers.

It was Malcom X that said “…they got to be a changed. People in power have misused it. A better world has to build and for it to be built, it has to be with extreme measures. I for one will join with anyone. I don’t care who you are, what colour who are or where you are from, as long as you are ready to change the miserable condition we found ourselves on this planet”. This is a call on my fellow Nigeria youth for us decide the kind future we want to see ourselves and generations to come. The future is now and it is far becoming yesterday.

@muntaseeer on twitter

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To Adamu Adamu: UNIJOS and the sorry state of our educational system.

adamuI congratulate you on your appointment sir. You are one my most admired and respected journalist/columnist because my dad and I don’t miss your column on fridays. I believe you are the kind of reformer we need in the education ministry at a time like this when our educational system in shambles and a disgrace.

Nigeria is still uncertain where it is headed. In other words, her destination is still unknown. The Nigerian world has blamed the woes of Nigeria, and in particular that of the educational sector, to the many years of military misrule. There is the common feeling that the military neglected the universities because of their opposition to military rule. But with the re-emergence of civil rule the nation’s educational institutions are still in shambles today, with university professors still not being paid on time. (Some may argue that the universities have started to claw their way back to normalcy with the reprise of civil rule – not democracy. See Bollag Feb 1, 2002). But that remains to be seen!

I’m a 400 level law student of University of Jos and since I got into the University in 2011, I have never experienced a hidge-free session. In my 100 level, ASUU went on strike for 3 months. In 200 level, ASUU went for six months strike. In my 300 level, we had a students protest which turned bloody and the school was shutdown for 3 months and now in 400 level, ASUU(internal) has embarked on another strike for almost 3 weeks now.

The reason behind this recent strike according what we learnt is because of some unpaid allowances to the lecturers and other issues as raised by ASUU to the school management. We have heard rumours of several meetings between the two parties but all to no avail. We the students who are always at the receiving end are left broken and helpless as we can’t even pour out of grievances and frustration because like the saying goes, when the elephants fight, its the ground that suffers. I pray for a Nigerian university with no ASUU strikes.

Recapitulating the status of education in Nigeria in the 1960’s and comparing it with what obtains today, one would agree that the standard has truly fallen. Things have really fallen apart as Chinua Achebe (1983) would say. Professor D. Akunjili at one time captured this ugly situation in these words. “Our present educational system is a disaster that has stifled creativity and hampered the emergence of excellence”(2007). Which means that our educational system is already a disaster and the incessant strikes is only making it worse.
As we speak no Nigerian university is among the 1000 best Universities in the world which tells anyone who cares to know that our educational system is indeed a disaster. Nigerians are in Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Kenya and other countries getting sub-standard education and importing it back to us to give us a taste of the disappointment that my brother calls “Nigeria in trouble” simply because we have failed to provide them with a better learning environment.
I agree with Prof Abiola Awosika when she noted that “our problems are many” adding that “I shudder when I think of what we need to do to overhaul this educational system”. I join my voice in calling on President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in education like he promised to do in the petroleum sector because any nation with an educational disaster like Nigeria is a danger to itself.

I wish you the best Mallam as you tackle the problems facing our educational system and I pray you succeed. I have followed your column for years and you’ve written on different issues facing Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Now Nigeria has given you the opportunity to write your name in gold by changing the sad tales of our educational system.

But for now please intervene in the University of Jos strike issue for an immediate solution because myself and thousands of my colleagues are tired of staying at home while our other colleagues in other schools are in currently school.

LSS Election 2015: M.M. Adamu Declaration Speech

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In the past one year, Comrade C.J. David has been governing our dear Law Students’ Society but in few weeks to come, a fresh election for the office of President and other executive offices would be conducted as our constitution demands.
I want to be the recipient of the baton. This is not a decision I take lightly, but one that I arrived at after a careful and persistent consideration as well as the need for a servant leader who places people over politics and service above all else. I took the decision to run for President of our great society in 2015 after a great deal of thought. I consulted widely with my family, friends and close political associates in the faculty and beyond.

I am running for President because I believe I can add value to the governance of a Society I love so much. My love for the Society and it’s people knows no limit. I love the diversity, the can-do spirit, and I believe in what LSS can be. And my passion to serve compels me once again to stand for what is right for all Law students, to make LSS what it can be. I offer myself as a Lawsite who is concerned about the state of the society and ways to make things better for my fellow students.

During the course of my consultation, I met with and heard from many fellow  Law Students across different levels about how we can continue to build the LSS of our dream. They told me about their expectation on how LSS can help in providing Law students with all the requisite information and programs that would make their stay in the faculty worth while.

Leadership to me is about making a difference. The challenges we face going forward are enormous. We all know these challenges because we face them every day in our daily lives as students of the Faculty. I promise you all that we are desirous of making a difference. My earned experience as student who is desirous to make an impact in his immediate constituency, it gives me a unique understanding of the critical issues of our time. I know how student union works. I also know how to attract programs that will add values to all Lawsites. I am ready for the challenge of building the LSS of our dream.

I have an agenda for the next one year to meet the hopes and aspirations of Law Students. If the great Law Students give me the privileged opportunity to be President, I shall implement a pan LSS agenda that offer viable solutions that specially reflect the views and wishes of all Law Students rather than those of special interests. I will focus on initiating programs that will make us better Law students who can compete with our colleagues from other Faculties of Law.

As the President of Law Students’ Society, I won’t kick the can down the road. I will confront every challenge that come our way because I understand the urgent need to give Law Students the great leadership they deserve. Doing all these will not be easy. But I believe it is do able. That is why I have decided to join the race to be the next President. I do here by seek your support to make this dream a reality and I assure you I won’t let you down.

I am ready to take up the unfinished business of building a LSS of our dream and making it greater because “THIS IS A TIME FOR GREATNESS”.

So join me. Together, we can make the new LSS possible. I care!!!

God bless LSS, Faculty of Law and God bless University of Jos.

A sad state of our nation

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The enormously popular talk show, ‘Berekete’ on Wazobia FM, Abuja, told the incredible-yet-true story of a hard-working and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau State who hanged himself. He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no-one had eaten and two of the children had medical prescriptions for which there was no money. He sneaked out without talking to anyone. After a long while, news came home that he had strangely been caught with a stolen goat.
On his day in court, the teacher confessed to the offense. The reason he stole, he told the local judge, was that he hadn’t been paid for seven months and when he got home to see what he saw, he just couldn’t stand it. The judge allowed him to go home on bail on self-recognition given, as he said, the good impression the entire village had of the otherwise respected teacher. All were shocked to find his body dangling from a tree the morning after. He couldn’t live with the shame.

This is the sad reality of us as a nation where a father cannot feed and cloth his children, cannot afford to send his children to school, pay their hospital bills and other necessaries. No functional institutions, insurgency in the North-East, ethnic crisis in the North-Central, ravaging poverty in the North-West, kidnapping in the South- East, Oil theft in the South-South, and arm-robbery in the South-west. This is our sad reality as a nation.

I strongly believe for Nigeria to work, Nigerians must have an attitudinal change towards our fatherland. We must have a rethink and national consciousness. It was Nelson  Mandela that said “If God is angry with a people, he gives leadership to the worse of them”. I believe new Nigeria is possible where every Nigerian will be proud to call him/herself a Nigerian. But that new Nigeria can only be possible when we have the collective will to make this change a reality -through seeing ourselves as solution to Nigerian problem or by electing those who are willing, able and desirous to bring the desired change our country needs. WE ARE NOT THERE YET. BUT I BELIEVE WE ARE STILL NOT FAR. MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA!!!

Happy International Youth day

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Happy International youth day. We have a huge task ahead of us to make this world a better place. We must unite to bring the desired change in our society needs.
My mentor Malcolm X said in (1964) that “We live in the time of extremism. They got to be a change. A better world has to be build and for it be build it, it must be with extreme measures and for one will join with anyone. I don’t care who you are and where are from as long as you want to change the miserable condition we find ourselves on this planet”.

The Sad Case of the Jos Blasts

It is with great anguish and heavyheartedness I’m penning this down. My beloved city of birth; Jos was under attack again after almost two years of relative peace. This is the city I love very much and call home. This blast came two days after the bomb blasts in Sabon gari, Kano in which many lives were lost. Clearly we’re up against an enemy or enemies who are so desperate and determined to destroy this nation.
I was in the library together with my friend Bakson Moses preparing for a test later in the day when we heard a heavy sound. Immediately, the Librarian confirmed it to us that it was a bomb blast and asked us all to leave the library. Before I knew it, the whole University was in confusion. Everybody was rushing out of the school. From school, we could see the smoke from terminus market which is located at the center of the city and the scene of the blasts.

On reaching home safely, I decided to visit Plateau State Specialist hospital so as to check the number of deaths, casualties and to render my service if needed. I have never seen anything like this before in my entire life. The mortuary was filled up with corpses and also the casualty unit of the hospital was full to capacity with people that had sustained various degrees of injuries.

 

Am really worried and I fear for my dear country. Nigeria is literally melting. We are really under siege. The government’s lackadaisical attempts to stop the spread of terror to other part of the North east, North central, North west and the country in general has exposed the defects within our security apparatus. Our people are dying, mothers are crying, relations are mourning and kids are lying. We live in perpetual fear every day because government has failed to provide one of its basic functions and responsibility—protecting lives and properties.

It was Borno, then Abuja, Kano and now Jos. We don’t know their next target, where and when. Yesterday in the hospital, I saw cooperation from both Muslims and Christians in evacuating the dead bodies, helping those that were seriously injured and most importantly donating blood to the injured. Both sides condemned the act in all totality. I witness the pains and anguish of parents and relations who had lost their loved ones from both sides. I saw families who were still looking for their loved ones. My neighbour and friend Peejay lost his cousin James. This morning, I met Tanimu in the hospital who is still searching for his wife Sadiya and their seven months old baby. She was in the market when the attack took place yesterday. He has visited all the major hospitals in Jos but all to no avail. Yesterday was really a sad day for us here in Jos.

The joint Council of Religious leaders on the Plateau were also on ground to lend support to the injured ones, console the bereaved and to preach unity and peace among the adherents of the two religions. Among them were Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama; Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Sheikh Bala Lau; Chief Imam of Jos, Bishop Benjamin Kwashi; The Anglican Archbishop of Jos, Sheikh (Dr) Khalid Aliyu; Secretary-General of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (Plateau State Chapter) and a host of other clergies. They all unanimously agreed that we’re in this together and “United we stand and divided we fall”. They both prayed for peace in our dear state and country.

Yes many have prayed and fast to God to bring peace and sanity to our nation. Even the traditional worshipers were not left out in these prayers. But I strongly believe that Allah will not change the situation of a people until the people are ready to change it themselves.  We must challenge and question our leaders to wake up to their duties in protecting lives and properties of its citizens.

The questions begging for answers are “What does it take to be human?” and “What do we owe each other as human beings?” I believe that our humanity goes beyond our religion, region, race or ethnicity.  Regardless of it all, we are humans and we must respect this humanity that we all have in common. It’s sad and disheartening to see the kind of atrocities committed against fellow human beings in my country and around the world. So much pain but no relief! Nigerians must all unite to save this country from these woes. We must not allow them win.

We must voice out against this stupidity and failure government to protect its own citizens. And the voice must be one voice; the voice of humanity, the voice of unity and the voice that will again speak out to say “enough is enough”. We are tied and exhausted from fear and mourning our deaths. Rest in peace to all those we lost to the bomb blast yesterday.

 

Nigeria, Northern Nigeria and Boko Haramites By Muhammad Muntasir Adamu

An old Yoruba adage says “the death that will take you doesn’t call by your name”

For the past three years,Northern Nigeria has been undersiege both internal and external. The North’s economy has gone from manage to damage, her people are killed every day like flies that the number is too much that we have lost count. Cities like Maiduguri, Damaturu, Potiskum, Kano, and many others have been turned into a battlefield by Nigerian troops and the insurgents.

I spoke to some friends of mine Sani Usman Hardo in Damaturu and Aaron Amos in Maiduguri who both lamented on the long curfews and fears that ordinary citizens are faced with everyday. Businesses shut down, People leaving in fear and taking refuge only in their houses. Aaron who is a student of University of Maiduguri said “Every day
when I leave home for school and return back safe and sound, I give all the glory to God” and Sani said “As we speak, a bomb blasted some meters away from my house three hours ago, it is so sad. Allah ya kyauta”. The both conversations are examples of an almost everyday living in such places.

 

Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State recently said the security threat by the Boko Haram in the northern part of the country had stalled development in the region.

“I am not satisfied with the slow pace of development in the northern region…In terms of progress, I am not satisfied with the situation in the North now, because of insecurity slowing down economic activities to the extent that when you invite investors, they are afraid to invest their money for fear of losing their investments,” he said.

Aliyu, however, said the slow economic activities was not peculiar to the region alone but the country at large as the activities of the group had given the country a negative image abroad.

So many times I have shed tears, been depressed,thrown insults to our leaders and to us also the followers for our actions and inactions since when this drama began regardless of colours(differences).

The problem of the North, South, East or West should be the problem for all unlike how today when many are saying the North should solve their problems themselves. I dare say where is the Nigerian blood that flows in all of us? Where is the brotherliness? Where is love? I guess we have all lost it. My first allegiance lies with the Nigeria state before my region.

I therefore call on our brothers from other regions of the country to join hands with us in fighting these insurgency that we are facing now.

Like I said earlier the death that will take you, does not call you by your name as such, we such should all wake up to cleanse our nation of all this negative vices from Official Boko Haram, Boko harams, kidnapping, robbery and all the others before it consumes us all. Hate is no alternative to one love.