My Youth and Other Unfortunate Things

                           by Moji Ogunkanmi

The Guardian recently did a Lagos week . For a whole week the spotlight was our struggle and chaotic existence. They highlighted something that has been bugging me for some time now. It seems to me that since my move back to Nigeria, my status in society has been devalued.

The bases for my sudden demotion are personal characteristics I never really noticed; but these have now become very familiar because for some reason, people feel the constant need to verbally remind of my new rank. The first charge brought by Nigerian society against me is that I am unmarried.

Although, I have never seen marriage as an achievement or essential for my existence, it turns out that the general consensus on the matter in Nigeria is quite the opposite. I am yet to acquire a spouse; therefore, I am not a full human being. Surely, as I am yet to tie myself up to another individual and embark on the last legal form slavery, I cannot be a responsible person.

Secondly, I am a woman. That is self-explanatory so I will spare you an exhaustive treatise on sexism in Nigeria.

The third and final abhorrent issue is my age. I am young, therefore, I cannot formulate coherent thought. I have no intellect of my own as only older people can think. I am young so only a fool would take what I say seriously. I am young so I might as well be invisible. I have moved from a society where my youth is admired and celebrated to one that sees it as nothing.

I refuse to be dismissed as a negligible citizen. My youth is my greatest asset to this country. Unlike the older generation, I don’t carry around in my pocket the tribal and political pains that have caused much terror in the past. I see Nigeria as a clean canvas for whatever we want to paint it to be.

Furthermore, it’s rather obvious that in Nigeria age has no bearing on wisdom. The older generation has had over fifty years to make their mark; yet they seem to have achieved nothing except one mess upon another, and they are still leading us in no clear direction. It’s about time those grandparents and great-grandparents take the overfed bellies home, sit down and chew kola nut.

Let a younger generation with greater strength, fresher minds, youthful optimism and clarity of vision take the wheel. Too many talents are wasted simply because older people refuse to let go. More room needs to be made for clean fresh air in this country.  Then again, I’m probably misguided. After all, I am young, unmarried and a woman.

Moji Ogunkanmi is a recent Natural Sciences graduate from University College London who recently took up writing as a healthy outlet for all the confusion and frustration that came with moving back to Nigeria from the UK. She writes on her own blog, RationalNigerian. This post is in line with today’s International Women’s Day celebration. To all the strong women out there trying to make it happen in an unbalanced world, Jisike!

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Do You Have A Problem With Corruption or Nah?

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Nigeria, my Nigeria. First and foremost, let me start by wishing my dear nation Nigeria a happy belated 55th birthday. The labour of our heros’ past shall never be in vain.

Following the Independence day celebrations, news emanating from London suggest that former Petroleum minister Dizeani Allison-Madueke, along with four other people, has been arrested in the UK for money laundering after they were found in possession of a huge amount of money.

What surprised me was how the news brought joy to many Nigerians. All shouting, “crucify her, crucify her.” I found this surprising because when the Senate President, Bukola Saraki was summoned to appear before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on grounds of false declaration of wealth, many believed it is/was a ploy by President Muhammadu Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to make Saraki abdicate his responsibilities after he went against their wish to assume his position.

The opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have also thrown their weight behind Saraki to help him survive this alleged witchhunt. Ohaneze Ndi Igbo followed suit and marched in protest to the National Assembly this week, baricading the entrance & describing the trial as the trial of an Igbo man (whatever that means).

Both events have made me question whether Nigerians really have a problem with corruption. In fact without mincing words, it seems Nigerians don’t. We seem to have a problem with people involved in corrupt acts. We take sides; everything is personal. Maybe that’s why Ohaneze Ndi Igbo youths who claim to speak for all Igbo youths have taken sides with Saraki.

In the popular classic movie, The Godfather, there is a scene where Michael Corleone told his father’s (The Don) unofficial adopted son and consigliere, Tom Hagen that everything is personal. “Don’t let anybody kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell.”

Politics in Nigeria is a dirty game, which is all about power and personal (not regional/tribal/religious) interests. When politicians are marked by an obvious personal interest, pro or against lustration, the public approach is deeply influenced by emotions and subsequently, rationality is thrown out of the window.

It is clear to every Nigerian that the level of corruption in the country is high but we only complain about corruption if/when it does not favor us. And attribute benefits of corruption (see link: https://arturozinga.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/corrupt-state-of-nigeria-we-all-have-benefitted-from-it/) to God’s favour, grace and blessings when corruption finally favours us.

Have you ever seen a student who copied his/her friend or sorted a lecturer (whether in cash or kind) to pass complain when s/he comes through with flying colours? Mba nu! Maka why? S/he will babble about his/her academic prowess and advertise the newly attained status on social media, all to the glory of God. S/he only complains when the result isn’t favourable and tries to point accusing fingers at others. Misery loves company after all.

Our partisanship towards corruption stems from the general belief in Nigeria that once one occupies a political position, be it the smallest, s/he has found El dorado. So, people tend to lend support to anti-graft war when charges of corruption are levelled against those in their black book.

People claim they are ready for change but question if Nigeria is ready for change. People only act this way when they can’t say that they are not ready to change the status quo. Even the idea of being ready is ridiculous.

The mission to cleanse Nigeria of corruption and subversives will take time; patience is essential. In words of President Muhammadu Buhari, order is more vital than speed.