Today, my thought, hoped it’s not skewed, is about my brothers, the youths of Taraba state. From time immemorial, everyone knows the future of every society rests on the shoulders of its youths. This is true in Taraba state. But, I don’t see a secured future with almost every young person aiming at one target – to be a House of Assembly member, a chairman or a governor. Folks, politics is now an old-fashioned game for the youth. The buzzwords are education, technology, entrepreneurship and partnership.
If you’re just a seldom social media visitor, you don’t need to be told that our young people in Taraba state, it might not be only Taraba, put so much energy in politics today. Why? Many of them ironically believe this is perhaps either the only way or the best way to serve the people. It might be one of the ways, however, as far as I understand, it’s the narrowest you can step your feet on to cause any desirable change and the most dangerous on your faithful journey to the Creator.
Imagine what’s going on with President Buhari, of all people, with regards to the approval of Magu’s appointment. Politics (or democracy) as a system may have the best structure for proving people, led or the lead, with the opportunity to thrive in all circumstances, but there’s much more to its attainment, especially in a society like ours. This is my opinion though. Wait to see what Buhari will end up with after 4 years, or hopefully if Nigerians give him another chance, 9 years. President Obama narrowly escaped with just a legacy: Obamacare, that is, if President Trump is not back to it for repeal and replace.
Come to think of it, the truth of the matter is these public office holders are everything but employees paid with the tax collected from ordinary citizens – petty traders, teachers, nurses – all those who work so hard to earn a living. Citizens employ them because they believe they (citizens) are too busy with their work, so decide to pay a group of people among themselves to look after the roads, supply of water, children education, security and so on.
Two categories of people apply for this job: first, the lazy among the citizens who are tired of working hard or do not want to work hard, but simply want to make easy money out of the ordinary people’s tax; and the second category are those passionate individuals among the citizens who either have identified certain problems in the society and would like to fix them, or are just by nature willing to sacrifice, while others are busy doing their jobs and raising their kids, by taking care and watching over their fellow citizens’ welfare, life and property. It’s everything but the sacrifice of a watchman. I stand to be corrected, among recent leaders, I always see Obama as an example of such individuals. In Nigeria, I could have contemplated Buhari, but it’s not the time yet.
Put aside the question of who is who, or in what category most of these aspiring youths belong. What kind of society do we intend to build with a majority going to one direction? What I perceive, I don’t know if you do, is most of our youths think politics is a business. It is indeed if you know the kind of life our politicians live, which is the result of distracting our able young population from focusing on what their counterparts in developing countries do focus on – education and innovation.
The worst part of the situation is sometimes the perceptions we hold. We’ve been made to believe, either in Friday sermons or on pulpits of Sunday service, or even by our conscience that only when we become governors and members of the house of assembly that we can change our destiny. This is not true.
We can change our destiny by first changing ourselves and our immediate families. We all know the truth that charity begins at home. Mahatma Gandhi also told us ‘be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ And, the most important change will come when we begin to think inwardly and focus on what is primary. You don’t need to be a member to help some young students pay their WAEC or JAMB registration. Instead of blowing off that money on building campaign offices, you can contribute with a block of classrooms or a community training centre. Turn to immediate families and neighbours around you. There are brothers, cousins, nephews and nieces who need your help! In fact, the best of rewards for a gift with Allah is the one to your immediate family. This is Allah’s wisdom to encourage us to build formidable families that would firmly sustain a society.
There are a lot of choices for contributions. There are teachers in villages and cities who on daily basis work hard to provide less-privileged children with an opportunity to acquire the best education. God knows about them and history will not forget them. Unless you’re bent on following the easiest and if not careful dirtiest way, you can be the best doctor or engineer or policeman or religious leader or make-up artist of your community. Why not the best musician? Come on! It’s a trade. It’s all about why and how you do it. By all these, you’d have served humanity best and help many along the way; you’d have hopefully less blame here and, above all, fewer questions to answer in the hereafter.
Truly, I’m not discouraging the youths from going into politics. Neither am I saying there are no the likes of Obama among our youths. What I foresee, however, is that the rate at which we fancy and die for politics is consequential to our collective development. We can’t go anywhere without heavy investments in our able population in terms of self-reliance, developments in science and technology. Growing societies cut public liability and increase private sector productivity. A majority of the youth clamouring for political offices, many leaving their well-paid jobs and many carelessly avoiding potential opportunities all around them, is a total reverse of this understanding.
Today, if Sir Ahmadu Bello and his contemporaries were to start a new life, I have no doubt, they would never choose politics. They did then because it was necessary; in fact, it was the last thing they considered. Most of them were teachers and farmers, professions they believed would change society faster and better.
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook visited Nigeria mainly to meet a group of young Nigerians most of them in their early 20s, to see the great job they’ve been doing. They are young software developers who inspired themselves to make a difference not through political office, but through innovation. They help companies as reputable as Microsoft. The international intervention they even get, Facebook support is one of them, is because of the initial effort they put on ground. Every young talented person in Taraba or anywhere in Nigeria has equal opportunity Andela availed themselves nationally and internationally.
I believe we from Taraba state can learn tremendously from the entrepreneurial trends going on around Kaduna, Abuja, Kano, and what has been happening for decades in Lagos, Port Harcourt and many southern states. To start with, we have Arewa Start-Up, an initiative by another young person, I think, from Kebbi state. There are Kaduna Start-Up, Niger Start-Up and a host of others. It’s high time for Taraba Start-Up to take off?
I said all these not because I am unaware of the challenges on the ground. Besides capacity and capital, there is also a great lack of thriving environment. These challenges have been there and will continue to be. People breakthrough limitations by insistence and consistency. We reach to a goal by rising up to every obstacle against our way in a dynamic, positive way. Our broken system cannot take us anywhere when we too relent so much on our minimal effort.
I hope Taraba state young people will understand that I’m one of them who is not looking for a fight but a path that can prepare us together for the responsibilities that lie ahead. In our time, we will not be building classrooms with woods and iron sheets. We will be constructing them with PHP, Html and Java. We will not be saving money in abandoned mansions and overhead reservoirs. We will be operating a cashless economy. These are just examples of the very basic things we must achieve to get Taraba compete with other states in the country.