Thursday, April 29, 2010

What are you capable of?

Certain people feel like young people are incompetent, and incapable of leading Nigeria.. My natural reaction would be to rush to our defense, by referencing all the incredible things young people have done. History is full of instances were young people were the catalysts of change and victory all over the world... From the Biblical days of David & Goliath, to recent times when it was the youth that voted in President Obama.

But instead of trying to defend the youth, I choose to challenge us. What are the youth in Nigeria capable of? The time has come where there is no tomorrow. 60% of eligible voters in this country are classified as young. We can either choose to take back the power that has been taken from us or we let sleeping lions lie. One thing I know for sure is this: if we choose to, as in times past, tolerate the way things have always been; if we choose to do nothing... if we choose to say "God dey" and "it's Naija"; one thing is certain...NOTHING will change.

Albert Einstein said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. Nigeria, is and always will be, a sorry shadow of its potential if we choose to let her remain that way. An unconscious/sleeping giant is less effective than a hardworking ant. The time is now. There is no tomorrow. We must collectively decide to change Nigeria. Now. Today. This very moment. The bad news is, big wheels turn slow. I don't expect PHCN/NEPA to give me electricity when I get home tonight. The good news is, while big wheels DO turn slow, they will turn. Or they'll get replaced.

America moved from being the chief proprietor of slavery to electing a black man of African descent as its President. This is no small feat. Call it blind optimism, but I believe Nigeria can achieve similar results with our Nation's historical problems. We can move from being a country rife with corruption, where power and governance are seen as a birthright, to a real true progressive democracy, if the young and young at heart collectively decide that enough is enough. Change begins when we decide that it should. Its about me. Its about you. Its about Us.

If Martin Luther King and Malcolm X (RIP) didn't decide to do what they did, America wouldn't have come this far; if people like Chief Gani Fawehinmi didn't stand up against all odds when he did, we wouldn't be here right now. Chief Gani Fawehinmi, after decades of fighting for justice, rejected one of Nigeria's highest honors in protest of the many years of misrule since Independence. These are people who believed in our freedom and potential so much that they paid with their lives. May we not let our passiveness result in their fighting and dying in vain.

If we do not stand up to become the architects of Nigeria's future, the opportunity will pass and we will have failed future generations. I don't want my unborn children to witness the same Nigeria I'm seeing now. Change begins with us, if we want it bad enough. If we really feel like enough is enough. If we believe and work hard; if we we sacrifice some of our convenience for the greater good, we can do this.

We must register to vote. We must select and vote for the right candidate. We must vow to defend and protect our vote. The ball is in our court. If we choose not to take back our power by not voting, then we have no right to complain when the same old villains loot and steal from us. We give up the right to complain about the problems later, when we choose not to vote in the first place.

To paraphrase an ancient proverb, we do not inherit Nigeria from our parents. We borrow it from our children. It's time to pay with interest.

~ B.W.

PS: I'm teaming up with some friends and colleagues (M.I., eLDee, #EnoughIsEnough,, #LightupNigeria etc) to put together youth voter registration rallies and efforts. As soon as its in order we will announce them everywhere. Please spread the word. It's not only cool2vote, it's necessary. Let's do this.