The young are sometimes the source of the problem without forgetting that the young are also often part of the solution. -Biodun Jeyifo
Weeks after the erudite domain, Jeyifo Abiodun, a professor of African and African American Studies and Comparative Literature had come, seen and conquered “The Young Shall Grow, Even in Nigeria, Even in the Perilous Times and The World in Which We Live” at the Sigma Club 8th Public Lecture, a pertinent observation of his has failed to abscond my mind. Why do Nigerians abroad outperform their counterparts at home?
Preparing a warning against any fallacy of hasty conclusion, he said he had supervised Ph.D. students home and abroad and found nothing different in the mental endowment. Thus, I feel it is not wrong to conclude that everywhere, human brain is the same.
Even the many of those Nigerians like Niyi Osofisan, Biodun Jeyifo who had been transported out of Nigeria glorify the foundation laid by their education in Nigeria. The first generation universities they attended to be precise and not the shadows we have now.
However, while recollecting the words of Dr. Demola, the brain of Nigerians is “tear-rubber” though not all. Yet, it is hard to find a Nigerian who has used his brain to full capacity.
Even some older absentminded professors, complete with reading glasses crowned with poor posture cannot allude such to having vigorously used their brains.
While I had my eyes on the humbling appearance of a Nigerian all the way from Harvard University, my ears were drawn towards a vexed Ph.D. student and farmer beside me. I could hear him perhaps not listening as my angry mind was yet to dismiss another young man who asked what Prof. Jeyifo felt the Nigerian youth could do to better their perils.
First, he accused the professor that he had failed to provide solutions as to how the young should grow in a perilous Nigeria. Second, his foolishness bleated that at his age, his Master’s programme was being sponsored by his mother.
Jeyifo in response said he had intentionally evaded providing answers hence, it was left upon those present to struggle within themselves and maybe, among themselves for answers.
It became a murmuring brain-storming session and I had to pay attention to my vexed companion after I had asked my friend and Editor-in-Chief of Awo Hall if it was a matter of life and death if that young man did not pursue a master’s programme.
Because, every day in our institutions, the number of those returning after a seemingly needless Youth service for a master’s programme sets an ache in my head. There is no job, the education system is damaged yet they keep returning to spend money they would claim they had not if anyone preaches starting a business of their own or taking a business risk.
We are indeed in perilious times manned by many a clueless Nigerian.
Back to December, my vexed companion asked what I think has been the responsible factor for the varied accomplishment of a Nigerian abroad and a Nigerian at home. Environment, my ignorant self replied. And as it appeared we both eyed our environment as the enemy, it was easy to communicate.
However, when my companion left, my conscience fights me about one question. It asked, “if your environment is the indeed your enemy, what about those prospering all about you?”
The answer is not prayerfulness or some religious “trust and obey God” mantra else we should not be seeing many church goers unable to afford the school fees of their churches university.
It is not about hard work else the Yoruba mother processing garri in the comfort of her discomforting state, the head porter in a Bodija market across the country, should have made the list of the richest whatsoever.
We do not want to blame our 21st century absentee fathers and mothers who put us in school and left us to hustle only to return at night with an hope-fading-exhausting look that never asked, “how was school today” let alone ask to see school work. It has indeed been a perilous time for all. We do not as well want to blame the government. It has done well to cut our national cake in the corner of his room to be consumed by his family and him while our silences speak “well done faithful servant”.
We do not want to blame our teachers. Unpaid many that cannot come and kill themselves because of the ‘pikin’ of another person.
If we do not want to blame anyone, can we take a minute to blame ourselves? If the enemy is not without, the enemy is within. And here we are: a house set against itself, how shall it prosper?
There are quite a lot of variables that influence the success/failure of a man, he himself the first on the list.
It is high time the Nigerian youth stopped beating its environment. The totality of our Nigerian environment comprises us, for it is man who gives it life. Whatever our environment offers us, we made it so. It is GIGO; garbage in; garbage out.
Still, in these perilous times, some are prospering about you every day while you chastely blame the system on social media.
Some are facing their enemies, heeding the call of doing more than schooling while you hide under the race of certification.
Your mates are out there weathering the storm while you are busy reading a Facebook post that urges you to type AMEN if you want God to bless you when your Instagram status reads “I want to be as rich as Dangote” in a perilous time that Dangote himself only has time for Facebusiness.
Beyond the Nigerian environment, there are perils. All Americans are not Bill Gate or Mark Zuckerberg; they have their perils too.