Failed Leadership and Nigerian Youths



By Ben Murray Bruce;

Of recent, there has been a lot of talk about the problems facing Nigeria’s youth especially the issue of drug addiction and fraudulent behaviour.

These two vices have led to a ban on the production of codeine in Nigeria and a clamp down on club going youths, because the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, in its wisdom, has determined that clubs are a favourite hang out of youths with a tendency for internet fraud (why they think that, I do not know).

However, the recently concluded state congresses of the ruling All Progressive Congress give a clue where the problem facing our youths originate from.

The ruling party showed a remarkable lack of capacity to govern itself. Their state congresses were marred with almost nationwide violence and thuggery and the party produced parallel congresses in almost every state.

I mean, it was so ludicrous that a foreigner could be forgiven for thinking that the P in APC stands for “Parallel”.

How can a party that cannot govern itself internally, be expected to govern Nigeria externally? The state congresses of the APC shows that the party itself needs to be colonized by a more civilised party and tutored on how to be a proper party. APC is not even mature enough to be a ruling party in a local government, how much more at the federal level.

State congresses that were expected to produce 36 state executives ended up producing almost twice that number. Where does this happen? I pray the party does not produce an alternate president soon.

But what is even more appalling is the violence that greeted these congresses. As someone said on Twitter, “If a party in charge of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, DSS, NIA and Civil Defence can’t organise violence free state congresses, then how can that same party conduct a violence free general election next year? If within they can’t accept defeat, then what will happen in 2019?”

And these are the people who have been providing “leadership” to our youths since 2015. Any big surprise then that our youth are so disillusioned that they have taken solace in drugs?

Let me provide one example of the pedestrian leadership provided by the APC which is driving our youth to major despair.

With all the promises that the APC made during the campaigns for the 2015 elections, I was shocked to watch on the news that a branch of the APC was “empowering” youths in Borno State with shoe shining kits.

Shoe-shining in 2018? Without education, Nigeria’s 12 million out of school children, who are mostly in Northern Nigeria, will find it hard to earn a living in future. If they cannot earn a living, they will live in despair which will make them vulnerable to anti social tendency!

A people are a reflection of their leadership! If our youth are taking to drugs and crime, we the leaders must take a good long kook at ourselves. We cannot claim that our youth are lazy when we have not provided job opportunities for them and instead have destroyed the jobs previous administration’s created.

The truth is that drugs and crime are only a symptom of the problem facing our youth. The real disease is despair. They watch while we claim to be fighting corruption yet corruption is growing daily and Transparency International is not fooled. They watch while we claim to be improving the economy yet we have reduced the value of the Naira, increased the price of fuel and simultaneously increased the amount of the same subsidy we claimed was a fraud.

And the worst is security. They read as the government lies that it has defeated Boko Haram. Meanwhile other terrorists, like herdsmen and bandits, have added to the mix to make the country even less secure.

Youths go to the farm and are murdered by herdsmen. They complain and are branded as “lazy”. But even I will not want to prove my hardworking nature by going to the farm to be slaughtered by herdsmen who carry AK-47 almost unchallenged by the government. In that case, it is government not me that is lazy!

From the aforementioned, it is clear that the trouble with Nigeria is still squarely and fairly a problem of leadership as Chinua Achebe said almost forty years ago.

To succeed in leading the people, a government must be proactive, not reactive and must anticipate problems that are to come in society and prepare to provide solutions to them.

Two examples immediately come to mind. On the issue of terrorism, it is reactive to wait for youths to become terrorists and then fight them.

Nigeria has the highest number of out of school population of young children who should be in school. The population of such children is put at 12 million.

We must look ahead. Without education, these 12 million children, who are mostly in Northern Nigeria, will find it difficult to earn a living in future. If they cannot earn a living, they will live in despair which will make them vulnerable to the philosophy of anti terror groups.

Seeing that this is the case, the time to start fighting future terror is now.

We must invest more of our revenue in education and develop a mechanism to compel all youths, particularly those in the North, to get an education knowing that educated youths live longer, live better and have less children.

But if we do not invest the money in educating them while they are children, we will spend the money in fighting them when they become adults.

Also, there is a resurgence of the criminal behaviour known as 419, or advance fee fraud, with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission invading various places where youths, especially in the South, are known to gather.

The government must realize that, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, 10 million Nigerians lost their jobs in the last three years. That is two times the population of the Republic of Togo.

If the government does not provide job opportunities for jobless youths, of course they will be more vulnerable to joining fraud syndicates.

If you see a problem only when it is a problem, then you are not a leader. A genuine leader must be visionary enough to see the problem before it comes and must also be creative enough to find solutions to them instead of finding who to blame or arrest or victimise for them.

And right now, Nigeria needs leaders and of the state congresses of the APC are anything to go by, Nigeria has better look elsewhere for leadership because no good thing can come out of the APC!

• Ben Murray-Bruce is the founder of the Silverbird Entertainment Group and the Senator representing Bayelsa East in the National Assembly