As I walked down to my hostel, I could not help but listen to the conversations of some secondary school students who were walking in front of me. They sounded very excited about the public holiday declared in celebration of Nigeria independence. One of them raised the question about the essence of the celebration of independence. Another girl, who seemed to be the oldest of them, twisted her face in anger and replied, ” What is there in to celebrate apart from the chaos?” It was quite obvious that this young girl saw no essence in the celebration of independence. And believe me, the other girls unanimously agreed with her. Let’s be reminded that these students are part of the future leaders of our country.
As these girls walked further ahead of me, I wish I had the courage to stop them and give reasons that will change their harsh opinions about our fatherland. However, the hard truth was that they were, in fact, very right.
Our beloved country, Nigeria, is in such a situation that can be best described as “chaotic”. In the political sphere, our leaders, who are supposed to work in harmony for our common interests, are caught up in an egoistic fight for political superiority among themselves. The state of our economy is being determined by the currency of another country. A slight shift in the exchange of dollar to naira affects even the lowest trader in Bodija market. More than half of the Nigerian population live below the poverty line. Nigeria is one the largest manufacturers of agricultural products in the world, yet majority of items consumed and utilized by its citizens are imported on a daily basis.
To make matters worse , we live in fear everyday in our own Fatherland. Everyday, we are scared to switch on our radios and television sets because of the fear of seeing the alarming statistics of victims of the ever increasing rate of bomb blasts and sucide attacks. The ones who are saddled with the responsibility of protecting us are the ones killing us. Innocent girls are taken away from their homes as a result of insecurity.
Tribal wars and disunity have become the order of the day. We have forgotten the value of brotherhood that has brought us this independence we now enjoy.
According to the World meters elaboration of the lastest Untied Nations data, the current population of Nigeria is 202, 237, 757. The median age in Nigeria is 17.9 years.This is more than enough evidence to prove that Nigeria is a country dominated by young people. Over 80% of the Nigerian population is made of persons below the age of 45 years and only about 10’% are aged 60 and above.
However, it is quite sad that the youths are the biggest casualties of poverty, unemployment, social vice. Little wonder why the entire country is said to be plagued with underdevelopment and poverty.
There is absolutely no way of denying the fact that our country is in a state of chaos. In fact, our problems are unlimited. These problems cut across every sector of the Nigerian economy.
However, many Nigerians have succeeded in making colours amidst these chaos. Growing up,, I recalled an incident where I made a mess while “cooking” our family dinner. In fact we had guests over for dinner. My mom managed to make something more special out of the mess that I made. After scolding me, she said to me, ” it is alright to make mistakes but the most important thing is to be ready to make the best of things out of that mistake,” Just like my mom, many Nigerian youths have succeeded in creating colourful moments amidst the chaos in our country. For the first time ever in the history of nollywood, Nigerian movies like Lionheart and Chief Daddy, were acquired by Netflix, one of the best film streaming media providers.
The National football team both in the male and female categories recorded great success in the Africa cups of Nations and the World Cup respectively. One of Nigeria’s young brillant teenagers, Nnemdi Ozoemena won second place in the 2019 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competiton. In fact, he is just 17 years old. Three Nigerian students emerged winners of global Huawei ICT competition after competing with 49 other teams from 30 contries.
Many Nigerians youths have turned out to be outstanding entrepreneurs despite the harsh economic condition of the country. These people are taking over most of Nigerian economic problems.
I could go on about the achievements of the ever vibrant Nigerian youths. In all, the truth still remains that in the face of our never-ending crises, there are other memorable stories to tell and records to boast of about our beloved country. However, the truth remains that only a section of the Nigerian youths have realized that they have the power to change the story of our nation.
Today, Nigeria clocks 59 years of independence and rather than celebrating, more than half of her population is groaning about her failed infrastructures, corrupt leaders and underdevelopment. The youths make up the larger percentage of those groaning and mourning. It is high time we looked beyond the never-ending chaos and thought of how to create colours amidst this never-ending chaos. We are the heart of the Nigerian population. We have the power to change the story of our nations, yet we are turned blind eyes to this fact. Instead, we have chosen to accept it as our fate.
The choice is ours: we can keep folding our hands and allowing ourselves to be consoled by the popular saying; “You are the future leaders” or we can choose to take actions to change the damning narrative. Our actions and steadfastness would give proof of our readiness to take over the leadership of our country.
The wise Mahatama K.Gandhi once said, ” You have to do the right thing, You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” The time to break barriers is now! Let’s change the narrative!

By SILLAH FATIMA FATOU
University of Ibadan.