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OPINION: 2023 and the angry generation

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OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

HEAD or tail Nigeria is not likely to remain the same after the 2023 general
elections. Though you could say that given the nature of the country, it
would still be safe to say that elections or no elections, Nigeria would not be the same anyway. The capacity for order, stability and organisation appears not to be in the DNA of the country. And this has been Nigeria’s
story since independence in 1960. The country has experienced fractious
elections including the exceptionally violent election in the defunct Western region tagged ”operation wetie” in 1965. In some respects, the country did not quite recover from that election. From that election which claimed many lives and unsettled the region, Nigeria drifted to a military coup and counter coup and then pogrom in the north where tens of thousands of Igbo were massacred.

A fratricidal civil war, the Nigeria-Biafra war ensued. Depending on who you are reading between one million to three million Igbo were killed through bullets, bombs, starvation and sundry means. The explanation has been that in war all is fair.

The wound of the 1967-70 Civil War was deep. And it festers up till today
in spite of the declaration of the 3Rs of reconciliation, reconstructure and
rehabilitation at the end of the war by the regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. No doubt, the war had continued by other means especially through the exclusion of the defeated Igbo from the critical sectors of the society. For instance, in the economic sphere, the winners moved fast on the heels of the end of the war to implement the Indigenization programme where public commercial corporations including multinational companies were sold to Nigerians. But this was only done after pauperising the Igbo with the policy Twenty Pounds payment to Igbo bank account holders
irrespective of how much was in their accounts prior to the civil war. To
be sure, virtually no nation in Nigeria has escaped being dealt a bad hand
by the state. The Yoruba, Hausa, Urhobo, Efik, Tiv, Eggon, Ijaw, Awori, Kalabari, among others, have had cause to question their being in this country.

Read also:OPINION: Should Africa celebrate rising life expectancy, as autism, malaria scare persists? By Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi

But in spite of the country frequently flirting with disaster and
disintegration, and constantly being at the precipice, it has managed to
pull back from the edge each time including when the situation looked
hopeless. Somehow, yet again, we have contrived to arrive at the crossroads. This time we walked down the slippery slope with our eyes wide open and the red light flashing blindingly at us. In 2015 we elected for president a man whose bonafides as a religious bigot, Fulani irredentist, absentee leader with severely limited worldview, questionable competence and an Igbo hater who also has discernable disdain for other ethnic nationalities. And since then Nigeria has not known peace. Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Our politics is broken. Our economy is hollowed out.

Unemployment, inflation, currency value, security, national unity, trust and everything in-between are strained to breaking points. The cost of living for citizens has become anything but bearable. Nigerians are gripped by a sense of despair, despondency and hopelessness. The picture is bleak and everybody knows it except the few who are benefitting from the decay and some more who for varying reasons choose to live in denial.

For these categories of Nigerians one thing is certain: something will
have to give. The prevailing system has run its course and it has left the
country in a bad place. A very bad place. The fact that this country has
been mismanaged by successive administrations, military and civilian,
over the course of 62 years has become glaring and undeniable.

The wreckage from the carnage is self evident. And this, more than any other,
explains the unfolding fierce battle for the soul of the country in 2023.For many Nigerians, the elections next year represent the last chance to save this country. It’s either the country is retrieved and repositioned for the urgent task of repairs and redirection or it’s left to go down with the frightening implications for its
citizens, the West African sub region, the African continent and the world at large. Unloading 218,000,000 Nigerians [we do not really know the population of Nigeria] on the world as displaced persons, refugees, migrants and vagrants is better imagined than experienced.

In addition, there is so much anger in the land. Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, was reported to have once described his as a wasted generation. That description would not have mattered but for the toll the actions and inactions of that generation have taken on subsequent generations. And still taking. One of the founding fathers of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, also wrote decades ago that a day would come when the deprived children of the poor would take a revenge on the children of the rich whose fathers had laid Nigeria to waste. That day is here. That day is the reason for the 2020 ENDSARS protests and the massacre on October 20 of that year at the Lekki toll plaza in Lagos and the orgy of killings elsewhere by the security agents of the ruthless state. That day is the ongoing rage to rid Nigeria of the old and decadent order in the elections of 2023. The advent of that day that was prophesied decades ago is the reason why the youth, and the not too young, are rallying
round one of the presidential candidates, Peter Obi and his running mate Yusuf Datti Ahmed of the Labour Party in the quest for a new order.
If neither Obi nor Datti is new to the murky politics of Nigeria, why then
are the youth investing their hopes and aspirations and future on them? It could be because their message is reassuring and resonating and refreshing. And their lifestyles of humility, prudence and empathy are worthy of emulation. But the more troubling explanation is the one
offered by the youth themselves. It’s that the Nigerian youth are the ones who will be on the ballot in 2023 while Obi and Datti will be their [youths’] representatives. In other words, the henchmen of the oppressive extant order will have millions of angry, hungry and deprived youth to contend with in 2023 and beyond, the outcome of the elections notwithstanding. The message out there is that head or tail, Nigeria will never remain same, going forward. Many in the older generation and some in my generation have conspired to eat the breakfast and then devour the lunch of our children and we are priming ourselves to steal their dinner. The Class of 1966 and their immediate offspring are insatiable. Their weapon of subjugation is violence. But they forget that violence begets violence. 2023 may be the year that they would find themselves at the receiving end.

AUTHOR: Ugo onuoha


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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