Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Why the President-Elect, Gen. Buhari Must Save Our Youths?

By Ms Fowler

Image result for buhari picture

 Dear President-elect Buhari,

I will like to join other patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians in congratulating you and wishing you a very successful Presidency. Your victory is auspicious, comforting and reassuring and leads me to believe that we have been given a real opportunity to start nation-building in earnest. Hitherto, the country had been in a free fall and our youths were set to inherit a downward spiralling nation. Sadly and even more alarming, they were also destined to inherit the profligate values and mindsets that got us to this point. Not only is this situation egregious, it is unacceptable.

Our youths are our most valuable and precious resources, yet, we have thrown them under the bus. Instead of bestowing them a country making great strides in progress and development, for the betterment of all and instilling in them core values necessary for nation-building, thereby preparing them to take the country to the next level, they have been left adrift in a rudderless ship. Anything short of seeking and adopting expeditious solutions to reverse the trend would perpetuate the breach of a sacred trust. Our youths have been entrusted to us and we have to secure and safeguard their futures. Let us “stop the rot” and save our children. The alternative is that they will become so dehumanised and callous and their actions in later years would be far worse than their forebears. The situation is chronic, dire and mind-chilling and there are no credible policies or programmes in sight to ameliorate matters. Up till now, our leaders have proved time and again that their power is akin to that of an F-5 tornado, packing noisy, deadly winds and leaving little life in its wake. Your administration is the last hope and final bus stop of the entity called Nigeria unless meaningful change occurs.
While we wish the new administration well and have rekindled hope that change is possible, the truth of the matter is that superficial, cosmetic changes may occur in the short or medium term, whereas nothing short of a total nationwide re- orientation is needed that will go to the crux of the problem. There needs to be a compete dismantling of the destructive mindsets and attitudes, which have crystallised into an institutionalised culture of unpatriotic actions .This has to be addressed, in tandem with the good governance we are confident you will deliver to the Nigerian people as I have no doubt of your bona fides. However, there is no magic formula to adapt to “stop the rot,” which has been allowed to fester for 50 plus years and despite the best intentions, it is impossible to walk on water. It is for this reason that I make bold to say that the strategy to bring about change must adopt a multi-pronged approach. We need to positively indoctrinate our youths, because change has to also come from the bottom up. It is imperative that we inculcate in our children their responsibilities as stakeholders in and stewardship of Nigeria, to replace the present narcissistic culture which has been their unfortunate lot to imbibe and to eventually emulate. We have to give them the opportunity to become invested in the land and to bond with Nigeria on a level that plumbs the deepest depth of their souls and psyches. We have to teach them to love, care for and nurture their motherland, Nigeria.
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Since the commercialisation of our petroleum resources in the mid 80’s, the vast majority of our youths have only known a petroleum economy, with our national coffers being funded overwhelmingly by our oil revenues, to the detriment of other areas of revenue generation. Oil deposits have nothing to do with human planning, effort or design and are far removed from most urban and rural populations. Land with actual or suspected oil rich deposits is treated with little respect or regard in the exploration and production processes. Furthermore, extraction methods used on or offshore, involve extreme aggression and force in order to lift the product and result in causing collateral damage to surrounding areas. The industry is responsible for the irreparable destruction of fertile, productive land and pollution of rivers and water ways, which ultimately leads to the degradation of entire ecosystems that can no longer sustain human, plant, animal or marine life. This in turn ferments dissatisfaction, unrest and militancy in the affected communities. It is a violent way to exploit resources, with long term ominous repercussions. The culmination of the foregoing is that our motherland is seen as nothing more than a “cash cow” locked up in a distant shed, deserving only of being viciously exploited until she dies a premature death as a result. Our youths have not learnt to love Nigeria and our petroleum resources have been called “the curse of Nigeria” with good reason.   It is a totally loveless endeavour, that causes mayhem and catastrophe at both ends of the industry.
Contrast this activity with agriculture. Agriculture engenders immediate and long term bonding with the land. The land is looked on with the kind of love reserved for family members and very close intimates and is treated accordingly. Therefore, the relationship with the land would be one involving care, nurture and respect. The processes involved in working the land from the planning to the production stages of a successful harvest, strengthen the bonds further. It is a scientific fact that most of the minerals found in soil are also present in the human body. These include zinc, calcium, nickel, vanadium, silicon, boron, Iron, manganese, selenium, chromium, phosphorous, iodine, copper, potassium sodium, cobalt and lithium, to mention a few. This tells me that there is a nexus between humans and the earth, which in the case of a person’s motherland is stronger, under normal circumstances. This is what causes people to serve, protect and in some cases sacrifice themselves for their country. That is why certain countries are great today. We, and in particular our youths are out of touch, out of step and out of sync with Nigeria, our motherland.
Metaphysics aside, there are also pragmatic and urgent reasons to prepare our youths to catapult this nation to agricultural superstardom. In the first instance, the core character forming values which are the bedrock of nation-building, can be learnt and embraced through agriculture; values and behaviours which include, hard work, discipline, good judgment, investment of time and resources, responsibility, commitment, tenacity and work based rewards, to mention a few. Once assimilated, these life skills, which are lacking in our youths, are readily transferable and adaptable to other spheres of human endeavour. Secondly, there is a growing consensus among international experts in the energy sector that we are past the peak of world oil production and are now contending with depleting oil fields. The International Energy Agency in Paris, France officially stated that there is an annual 6.7 per cent decline rate of mature oil fields, which will increase to 8.6 per cent by 2030. Their world energy outlook report further stated the following, “…it is within the power of all governments, of producing and consuming countries alike, acting alone or together, to steer the world towards a cleaner, cleverer and more competitive energy system. Time is running out and the time to act is now.” The death knell of our oil industry has been sounded. Let us take heed!
To be continued
Ms Fowler is an international lawyer based in Lagos

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