L eadership is said to be everything to any given society because no given society can be better than the leadership it has. This is true because leaders are those who manage the affairs and resources of any given society for the benefit of the members of the society. Like the legendary icon of literature, Prof. Chinua Achebe, submitted, the perennial Nigerian leadership failure has been the bane of the Nigerian nation since her political independence on October 1, 1960.
The unabating recycling of the independence generation of Nigerian leaders whose hands have become weak and brains worn with age has compounded both the leadership and developmental challenges of Nigeria – a nation which should ordinarily be the “Giant of Africa”.
The three arms of government seem to be entangled in a negative insane competition against the people and everything that is reasonable. The result of this poor leadership is that everything has gone so wrong with Nigeria that Nigeria has become a land of negative possibilities!
The Nigerian youth constituency has been the worst victim of the mismanagement of the affairs and resources of Nigeria by Nigeria’s political class. With collapsed healthcare and education sectors, dilapidated and fully-compromised security architecture and total lack of opportunities for gainful public or self-employment, the lives and destinies of Nigerian youths, nay the entire Nigerian populace, appear to have been totally and irreversibly mortgaged to doom. Offshore, scores of Nigerian men and women brimming with youthful zest die daily in the deserts, prostitution rings and slave camps where they search for better opportunities.
Onshore, the world has seen some Nigerian security operatives kill, maim or molest Nigerian citizens for resisting to pay bribes as little as N50 only. These were the issues that triggered the #EndSARS protests of 2020 which were similar to the Sri Lankan “Aragalaya” or “Gota – Must – Go” protests. With the invasion of the Sri Lankan Presidential Palace in Colombo, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned and fled the country on July 13, 2022.
However, it is instructive that while the Sri Lankan authorities handled the protesters with maturity and martial restraint, the Nigerian authorities which do not brook opposition responded to the #EndSARS peaceful protests as though it was a full-blown war that required full military aggression. On the night of October 20, 2020, operatives of the Nigerian Army allegedly opened fire on the unarmed Nigerian youths who were at the Lekki Toll gate peacefully protesting against verified police brutality in Nigeria.
It was reported that twelve Nigerian youths were killed in that attack which has been described as a senseless massacre. With the recent sack of the inept Sri Lankan leadership or authorities through the Gota-Must-Go protests, which lasted for four months and three weeks, I have read several essays and watched many videos condemning Nigerian youths for lack of courage, resilience and condoning poor leadership. Some even challenged the youths to copy the Sri Lankan example and end bad leadership in Nigeria. Those attempts to incite Nigerian youths against Nigerian authorities are unreasonable and unpatriotic; and while I condemn those attempts, I urge Nigerian youths to totally ignore the distractions.
This should not be interpreted to mean a vote of confidence in the current Nigerian leadership or authorities. Rather, it is a call for discretion given the avowed indisposition of Nigerian authorities, especially the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) to opposing voices no matter how reasonable the voices might be and protests notwithstanding how peaceful they might be. This was why I wrote immediately after the Lekki massacre of October 2020 and charged Nigerian youths to reinvent their grievances and protests and demonstrate their aversion to the perennial leadership failure in Nigeria by ending the negative trend through the ballot box. The 2023 general Nigerian elections are barely 180 days or six months away. With the recent improvements in the Nigerian electoral law, otherwise known as Electoral Act 2022, which have drastically reduced opportunities for rigging by introducing the bi-modal voter accreditation system (B-VAS), and direct transmission of election results from the polling units, there is no need for Nigerian youths to expose their lives and limbs for the umpteenth time to the suicidal risk of peaceful protests.
Protests can never be tolerated by the present PMB administration which seems to see everything from the martial view point and to approach every problem or challenge with military solutions. In the present circumstances in Nigeria, those calls for protests are therefore irrational, unpatriotic and ominous; and I sue that they should be ignored by Nigerian youths.
The approaching 2023 general elections in Nigeria is a golden opportunity for the teeming Nigerian youths to liberate Nigeria, redeem their mortgaged future and destinies and usher the country into an era of progress, development and prosperity. All protest energies and resources at the disposal of Nigerian youths and indeed the entire Nigerian populace should be channelled through the ballot boxes. Like we all know, ballot box revolution has minimal risks, is bloodless; and so, best suits the Nigerian situation.