It was Professor Wole Soyinka, our own William Shakespeare, who, in describing his generation, dubbed it the “Wasted Generation”. By my understanding, a generation could be a period of between 30 and 35 years. WS was born in the 30s and his generation would therefore be those who are now in their sixties, seventies and eighties.
Why was his generation a wasted one? Well, that generation was, and still is, responsible for the bulk of our present woes. That was the generation from which we inherited much of the moral depravity and corruption that pervades our society. Yes, there was corruption then, let’s stop calling it a new thing.
Those born within that period squandered the opportunity to set a good foundation for the country. They may argue that corruption is at an all-high right now, but the truth is that it started from somewhere-them. That generation afforded the military the opportunity to intervene rudely at various times in the governance of our country. The military, in turn, further led the country into the abyss we are in presently. The military was also made up of men from that generation.
That generation frittered the chance to ensure the even development of our great nation after the colonialists had mischievously left us with the Greek Gift called Amalgamation. They sacrificed that opportunity on the altar of sectionalism and ethnicity.
When that generation was still fresh in power (they still ARE in power but it goes without saying that they run the vehicle of power on the fuel of stale ideas), the political landscape was not so dissimilar to what we have now, the difference lies in the fact that corruption then was on a slightly lesser scale and not brazen-and the oligarchy was made up of fewer people.
However, their corruption is not in issue here because back then, this vice did not affect their respect for the values of good leadership, moral courage and good, responsible governance. As such, nobody cared back then If the leaders were literally eating public funds because there was order, public utilities were functioning, social amenities were in place, everything was okay!
I dare say that nobody would care these days If our Governors and President decide to go on a special diet comprising meals of mint Naira notes as long as they (the populace) have good roads, stable power supply, potable water, good schools etc-in short, as long as they can live comfortable (not ostentatious) lives.
Perhaps the greatest mistake the wasted generation made was that they did not have enough foresight to envisage the enormity of the problems their negligence would create. Thank God a bunch of them are still in power. For instance, how come nobody from that generation was forward-thinking enough to see that the beautiful island created by the colonialists called Lagos would become the eyesore that it is now? Thank God for the progressive-minded Governor we have now that is trying his best to turn around many years of neglect and decay.
Granted that the colonialists developed the West, a sprinkle of regions in the South and Lagos to the detriment of other regions; couldn’t we just maintain what they developed and do our own bit to improve the other regions? A year outside the South West showed me the “other Nigeria”. It will be a quantum leap, for instance, for these other parts of Nigeria to have the kind of education that we dismiss in these parts as “no longer qualitative”.
My grandfather used to say in the privacy of his abode that Nigeria’s fortunes started dwindling immediately the colonialists got on their ships and left our shores after independence. As “unpatriotic” as this may sound, it is the unalloyed truth!
The glorious past we so much yearn for with nostalgia was created by the colonialists-the world-class schools, the enviable Civil Service, the efficient parastatals…the very foundation was laid by the Supremacists! Can we, for fairness’ sake, stop talking about colonialism as If all there was to it was evil? What about the upsides? Gentlemen, it took a single Government to waste the nation! The 1966 coup which foreran the numerous interregnums which ruined this country was staged by a Military comprising members of the Wasted Generation. Same for the Civilians who gave the Khaki Boys the excuse!
Now, let me stop indicting that Generation-I move to the next one, the “Wasteful Generation”. Their job was easy. They just simply plundered what was left of the waste. They carried on from where their fathers stopped. I want to believe that they are slowly pervading the polity now. They are in their forties and fifties. They are the ones that occupy the lower and middle echelon of our Government and Parastatals. They will soon take over everything. Their corruption is abstruse and their sense of moral responsibility has simply evaporated. They believe corruption is okay.
They encourage their children to cheat by facilitating Common Entrance Exam answers for them so as to enable them get better results. They ‘organise’ top-flight jobs for their wards as long as the latter can manage to come out with a “Pass” grade. Why won’t they fail when the foundation is faulty? They started their lives as cheats and they would forever think that is simply the way to go. Meanwhile, graduates with top grades have to wait a few months to get a job that will pay them N30, 000.
Going by the foregoing premise, do I need to mention what fate belies the Wasting Generation-My generation? I am more than qualified to give a view from the inside. I have been through it all. We simply have no foundation, or rather, whatever foundation existed has been erased from our memories by horrendous realities. We only hear of good schools-qualitative education is considered the preserve of the rich who probably gained their wealth from…em…stolen money.
For us, it is an absurd expectation for power and water supply to continue uninterrupted for 24 hours. For us, corruption is the norm, not the exception. I hardly enter into discussion with peers about what is wrong with this country because it will only attract snickers and looks of ‘are you okay?” from them. A lot of them simply cannot understand why I would even think of getting into Government and not steal money. At least, a little pilfering is forgivable. You can always launder the money afterwards or purge yourself at the Confessional.
My generation does not believe you can get a good job by dint of hard work. You can only get one with connection somewhere (some even call it divine!). My generation can’t seem to understand why I say I would derive more satisfaction from wealth emanating from legitimate hard work (ingesting cocaine is hard work but I just can’t vouch for its legitimacy).
My generation does not believe that Nigeria could get better with their efforts and a correct mindset. They think easy money is the way. Who wants to wait endlessly for hard work to pay when “yahoo yahoo” can get you a Bentley in no time? Honestly, can you blame them? The majority of graduates out there can never, will never be able to, afford to rent an apartment and start lives on their salaries! How much from your N50, 000 (or far less) salaries can you save to rent you a ‘room and palour’ at Surulere? The apartment will set you back just about N450, 000 for 2 years rent.
Dear friend, the picture is grim, the future looks bleak for my generation…but a few good men is all we need to get a turn-around. The correct mindset will do the magic for my generation. The motto of my primary school was “A little child shall lead them”. We need those little children whose minds are insulated from all the rot outside. We need that child who will look into the sky and not see the dark clouds but the rainbow behind the clouds. Methinks the solution to this nation’s problems starts with you-pimply teenager and already pot-bellied 30-year old. Don’t fail the nation.
Article by Seun Idowu
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