Leaders of Today
When I was in primary school, there was this marching song that had “we are the leaders of tomorrow” as part of the lyrics. My voice used to overshadow those of my classmates as that was my favourite part of the song, YES! I dreamt of being at the helm of affairs, I aspired to be a very powerful woman and that song always kept my hopes high. It gave me the assurance that my dreams would definitely be accomplished.
I never liked the way things were going on in the country: the bad roads, the poor infrastructure and poor electricity supply. I remember how excited we used to be any time we had electricity supply. The shout of “UP NEPA!” always filled the air especially from little children like me. Those were the things I could see and understand as the problems of the country. I never knew they were more than that.
My assumption of my future, my dear tomorrow, was a setting where children of my generation, strictly my generation, would be at the helm of affairs and occupying relevant and significant positions in the society. I felt it was “turn-by-turn” and I believed our leaders, parents, teachers were living their own future and probably in the next twenty years we would be given the opportunity to live ours. I heard stories about the military heads of state and how at thirty (years) some of them had already assumed office. All these further inspired me as a pupil and I believed if I worked hard I should also be in a relevant position before thirty. I should be a woman of my own. I saw in me a younger version of Queen Elizabeth, Helen Sirleaf Johnson, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Flora Shaw, etc. I dreamt of being greater and more relevant than these women.
Childhood was sweet and unique, the inspirations were perpetual. Things looked so easy and the future was equally bright, very bright! I really miss being a child, there was nothing to worry about.
I moved from primary to secondary school with my head still high. I always wore a contented smile anytime I remembered my dear tomorrow, I looked forward to the day when the reign of those old men and woman would pass away and another generation would be opportuned to display their potentials. I was in a hurry, I couldn’t wait for my turn to come. I waited patiently for the announcement day but unfortunately nothing like that happened. I still kept seeing the same faces on TV, I heard the same names. These are the people I have always noticed since I was in primary one and even till JSS2. Their names were still all over the place. Seven years and nothing like change! I was in a great labyrinth and I wondered if those people don’t allow others when would it finally get to my turn.
I got to SSS2 and it was still the same story. I was forced to ask my teacher why it was a particular caucus that dominated the important positions in our society and she explained to me that it was the kind of society we live in. The taste of power and wealth is so sweet that a particular set of people aspire to enjoy it alone. They keep passing the baton to themselves and the deserving ones are not given any opportunity. Then it dawned on me that the future may never come. My dear tomorrow might just be a fiction. I was very confused. My whole perspective about the future was wrong!
I used to think there was a regulatory body in charge of the future and after a stipulated time there was going to be something like a census. This would officially make the people in power/offices retire and give room for the competent younger ones. In this way, everyone would be allowed to live their dreams. I felt it was that easy. I was weakened and I told myself what I needed was to graduate with good grades, get a good job and raise a family. The tomorrow thing was all a fiction. I felt all schools should be banned from singing that marching song: it only deceives the students.
As I grew older, I started seeing what life really meant. The future is indeed real but there is no stipulated time for it. There is more to the future than just graduating with good grades, as a child all I understood was school and graduating with good grades. There is indeed more to life than being a doctor or lawyer. There is something called potential. You have to set goals. You can start living your dreams from today. We don’t have to wait for tomorrow, waiting for tomorrow is just a way of limiting ourselves, the tomorrow may never come, it is our responsibility to live our dreams, the government won’t live them for us.
As I write this article, I am in my second year in the University and I can tell you that the political, social and economic structure has not really changed. The same set of people still dominate everything and everywhere but surprisingly, we have people who have no popular background making it in life but these are people who made extra moves and who started planning their future a long time ago. There is more to life than waiting and procrastinating, we have our potentials, there is something built into each of us. Why not discover them? It doesn’t disturb school. Education is very important in life but there are a lot of things to be learnt outside school.
If you aspire to be a medical doctor why not make extra moves, discover! Explore! Launch extraordinary things relating to science. Isaac Newton developed the law of gravitation, calculus and three laws of motion at the age of twenty-three, all during two years that Cambridge was closed due to the plague. There is a little write-up that was sent to me by a WhatsApp contact which stated that a dropout of Cambridge or Harvard is equivalent to a PhD holder from a Nigerian university. I was totally devastated and amazed by that. Who says we can’t have a greater version of Isaac Newton, Bill Gates or even Mark Zuckerberg in Nigeria. We have subjected ourselves to limitations, but I refuse to be intimated. That is why I am writing this article.
Opeyemi Awoyemi, Ayodeji Adewunmi, and Olalekan Olude started Jobberman on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Jobberman.com is an employment website and has beem described by Forbes as West-Africa’s most popular job search engine and aggregator. They were even recognised by Mark Zuckerberg for their efforts in the technology and employment sectors in Nigeria. They created an opportunity themselves and gave other people different opportunities; Jobberman has definitely contributed to creating employment in Nigeria.
Opportunities can be created by ourselves, we don’t always need to wait for them to come. Why not make a move today, sooner or later your moves would be noticed. About three days ago I read about DJ Obi who is set to break the record for the longest DJ set in the world. He believed he could do it and he set out to play continuously for 240 hours and I am positive he would break the record and for the first time set the world record for Nigeria.
We breed more youths with Facebook and Instagram swags than those with innovations. There is nothing that can’t be done in a new way, be you a writer, musician, model, actress, lawyer, doctor, blogger, fashion designer or make up artist. There are new ways things can be done, it just entails innovations and the ability to discover. Social media has even made things easier, but there is more to it than just chatting and monitoring other people’s progress in life. A lot of people make fortunes from this social media. Take a look at SISIYEMMIE, she is a lifestyle blogger and she made something tangible out of her life via social media. There are a lot of people like that who have used this ordinary things in extraordinary ways.
I think even our leaders don’t believe in this generation of ours and that is why we are always left behind. We lack active and sensitive youths, we breed a lot of those who are quick to laugh and make caricature of everything. We need youths who are active in political and developmental aspects of our country, we need youths who are assertive and are always ready to take up any challenge in the quest for what they really want.
The more we keep quiet, the more we portray ourselves as vision-less and dumb as they really think we are, things may really be difficult but it is 100% possible for us to solve our problems ourselves, we all have something built in us, we just have to discover them and start making use of them. No matter how difficult things may look, there is always a sweet side of it.
I am putting every Nigerian youth out there to a challenge. It is our time to make it happen, the future has come. The “tomorrow” is today, enough of the limitation and intimidation by our leaders. We now crave for what is truly ours, we want to be relevant and accorded our due respect. All this depends on us, let us keep our heads high, make good use of whatever is built in us. We are the leaders of today so let us take charge and help Nigeria regain her rightful place among the committee of nations. It is possible! Let us make it happen! It depends on you and me!!
BY: AGEMO, Oluwabukola Miriam (guest writer from UNILAG)
Founder, “Arise African Child” Movement