The Dangers of Disillusionment

2015 entered with a bang,not a whimper or a whisper, but a loud screaming bang that shouted to the world, I am here and I intend to change you. 2015 was the year Nigeria had her last elections; presidential, legislative and gubernatorial in some states. You could almost taste the promise in the air. Nigeria was going to be different, be better, be more; they called it change. Pastors prayed for the wind of change, those who had never been subtle prayed for the broom of change to sweep through the country. And their prayers were answered. The 'change' candidate won. On the day of his victory and the day of his inauguration, joy filled the land, Nigerians looked at their future with a sense of optimism.

That was nearly two years ago. I'm perhaps young enough that people will have a problem when I say that never in my life have I seen optimism and joy reverse so fast, but it is the truth. First  was the selection of a team to help him run the country. The President was sworn in to office in May but did not announce his cabinet for months. They said he was taking his time to make sure he got the right people for the office and because of the massive good will Nigerians had for him, we let him get away with a lot of things.

Even the most die-hard believer in the Buhari administration harbors some misgivings on life in Nigeria and the direction we're all heading, if there is in fact a direction, I'm not entirely certain. We could focus on or ignore the double digit inflation or the first recession Nigeria's faced in the last two decades. But what we should really be looking at, what we cannot afford to ignore is the frustration and anger building among Nigerians. And that fact that a very significant part of Nigeria's population is it's unemployed or underemployed youths.

In the last 14 days, I've participated in or witnessed six discussions on why democracy is not working for Nigeria. I thought at first that this was probably an isolated sentiment, but by the third discussion I was forced to conclude that there actually is a segment of the Nigerian population that genuinely thinks a return to our military past is the only way forward. I've heard a yearning for a benevolent dictator even among people who were alive during the most repressive juntas Nigeria's been forced to go through. 

While there's nothing in this world (and probably beyond) that'll make me support any sort of dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise, let's look at the institution some think is our solution, the Nigerian Army. The very same institution that produces those bullies patrolling the streets, breaking all laws and treating Nigerians whom they are sworn to protect, with disdain, disrespect and a disregard for human life that would be appalling if we were all not used to it. And before you point out that the low ranking soldiers on the streets are somehow different from their officers and the system that produce them, please remember that the Nigerian army is the same institution where soldiers mutiny because the officers supposed to be in charge send them to the front lines without ammunition, salaries or even food. The same institution the 'accidentally' bombed a refugee camp for internally displaced people three days ago, killing at least 50 and injuring another 120. I understand the anger and frustration of Nigerians but I ask you, is this really the group you want in charge of your affairs?

Nowhere is the combination of young people and frustration to be felt more keenly than in the (mis)education sector. Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Oyo State, Nigeria has closed its doors to students for the past 8 months. Students and staff allege that the school has not been funded in the last 22 months. Majority of students have been in the same level for the last three years not because they're failing at their academics but because the school hasn't stayed open long enough for them to actually finish that level in three years.

Unsurprisingly, the students took to the street to protest and arrived at the Governor's office where they were addressed by the Governor of the State, Governor Ajimobi. What came out of the Governor's mouth rather than calming the student enraged them. Or it should anyway. I might have heard more condescending, responsibility dodging, self-aggrandizing speech before but that's because I've been listening to Nigerian 'leaders'.

Nigerians are angry, and not just the youth but it was a student leader who said during the protest "while Nigeria's democracy might have come by a bloodless negotiation, one thing is certain, Nigeria's salvation shall obviously come by a bloody revolution". 

And this is what concerns (scares) me, because our leaders are not only ignoring this building anger but in some cases (Biafran agitators, Southern Kaduna, fulani herdsmen to name a few) actively fanning it. 

I'm an avid student of history and I have never seen a revolution that left a nation I would want to live in. The disillusionment of Nigerians is gradually making Nigerians predisposed to find a solution outside of the democratic system, the belief being that the system is too rotten to be change from within and needs to be burnt down in its entirety. This disillusionment is dangerous for all of us. I hope the government can do something about it but in the interim, I advise all of you who can to consider getting residence in other countries. I hear Cape Verde is a really cool country, how hard can it be to learn Portuguese?

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