The dust has settled. Time and event have definitely overtaken it; however, the gravity and the danger the issue portends for the so-called ‘leaders of tomorrow’, makes the exhumation of the Oyo state students riot file of October 28, 2016 of utmost importance to the country.
Like every other sector of the economy and facet of Nigerian life rotting away as a result of cancerous leadership that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society, Nigerian youths have somewhat fallen victim of this destructive political leadership that has become inexpugnable till date.
The rampage and destruction of students of Isale community and Anglican high schools in Oyo state two months ago clearly shows that a bleak and gloomy future awaits the country.
Largely and indisputably expected to take over from the older generation, the recent brigandage by the unruly students in Oyo state and other happenings in the country painfully suggest otherwise-a colossal failure and guilt that Nigeria’s past and present leaders must accept.
In a country where mediocrity is celebrated in high places, disregarding merit and hard work, and politics played with brawn rather with brains, these leaders have inadvertently laid bad examples for those beautiful and innocent souls coming behind them.
Their actions have systematically and deliberately weakened the foundation to churning out upright, honest, civil, and virtuous leaders that will sustain the wheel of economic development and growth from the nation’s political factory. In short, what we have now are youths already spoon fed with this deficient and toxic political baby formula as evident in the Oyo riots.
Or how can one explain the rioters’ rationale for antagonizing and sticking the knife into the Ajimobi’s government policy that only wanted to put an end to the retrogressive practice that promotes students without recourse to their performances in some important subjects which is a norm in public schools and even in private ones too?.
The students’ actions are a product of the bad leadership we have had in this country. These leaders have talked with both sides of the mouth when it comes to elevating and promoting the dignity of the Nigerian youth.
The popular saying, “Youths are the future of tomorrow” has been hardly put to practice and even on rare occasion when the so-called youths dine with the “elders”, they failed woefully. The six billion Naira Peugeot car scam of a one-time youth speaker of the house of representative easily comes to mind.
For those that are oblivious of the abysmal fall of Nigeria’s youth in the Country’s political and leadership structure, it is important to remind them that a 28-year old Yakubu Gowon became the head of state in 1967 and ensured the sanctity of Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty.
And if that is not enough to raise the alarm, bet Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau story would. Trudeau was just four years old when Yakubu Gowon paid a state visit to Ottawa to foster diplomatic relationship with Trudeau Snr, who was the Canadian prime minister during that period.
Fast forward to 2016 and we have Gowon already out of power in his 80s and 44 year old Trudeau currently overseeing Canadian affairs as Prime minister- Something of a contrast in Nigeria.
Rather, what we have are not only Gerontocrats in power but also ‘old men’ recycling themselves and claiming they are still part of the tomorrow and future of Nigeria.
The youths unarguably have no secured future in this country; it is a jungle of some sorts for them where only the strongest survives.
While their counterparts in some Asian countries and the West enjoy first class educational facilities and funding from their governments, Nigerian youths have been left to make do with crumbs from their own government.
Dearth of funds and infrastructure has turned Nigerian public universities into glorified secondary schools. The enormous gap in intellectual productivity complemented by an ambivalent and unhealthy teaching environment has made education a more profitable venture for not only private individuals but also religious bodies.
The government’s ineffectiveness has promoted capitalists encroachers in the educational domain-a situation that keeps getting worse.
Back to Oyo state, the students’ actions are totally uncalled for and deserve to be condemned. Destroying public properties is uncivil and barbaric just because they are not in agreement with the new policy. It is even more curious to see students become destructive just because the Governor said they must earn their promotion. Working hard and scoring at least 50% in Mathematics and English before moving to the next class as ordered by Ajimobi is not out of order if one considers the drop in standard of education in not only Oyo state but the country as a whole.
The governor’s policy should be applauded and seen as a step in stemming the rot and unethical assessment and evaluation of students in public schools. It means that teachers must now up their game and try as much as possible to make sure these students are worthy products of the secondary schools they would later claim to pass out from.
While we acknowledge the political leadership and the morally derelict system’s culpability in the creation of this Frankenstein and deformity psyche in the youths, the victims (the youths) must endeavor to rise from the ashes of this maligned and unproductive state to start staking a claim in the Nigerian project. And the misdirected and ignorant student rioters in Oyo can start by embracing the state governor’s policy.
Hard work pays. You only value what you sweat and labored for and that should be the utmost reason why all stakeholders in the educational sector must work assiduously to reverse this unrewarding, automatic promotion practice that is ubiquitous in both the public and private schools.
In education, teaching is only actualized if students pass certain evaluation test in form of examination before making the grades but, failure to do so implies that such student should repeat that class.
Hence, the Oyo state government is justified in mandating its students to secure 50% marks in both English and Mathematics before moving to the next class.
The world is a global village and the West alongside Asian heavyweights is seizing the initiative in not only aggressively driving their youth policy but also creating the ground for the ‘next gen’ leaders to pick up from where their predecessors left the baton.
It is a baton of leadership that is continually changing hands from generation to generation. Nigeria can’t afford to be left behind.
The earlier the leaders realize the folly of their anti-youth policies the better for Africa’s largest democracy. Getting it right with the youths can only ensure the ‘elders’ have a peaceful sleep in the night.