The struggle for a better Nigeria: From one generation to another By Caleb Onyeabor

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With the recent demonstration by youth against police brutality amidst the myriad of socio-economic and political problems facing Nigerians, several persons have used this opportunity to accuse the older generation of failing the present generation.

It is believed that the passiveness of the older generation towards failure of government to live up to its responsibilities, is responsible for what Nigeria has become.

Youths have gone ahead to blame their parents for not standing up to fight for a better Nigeria when they had the energy to.

As close to the truth that this sounds, it is not entirely true. The older generation has in very few opportunities demonstrated that disappointment with the failure of government in Nigeria.

The struggle against bad governance can be traced to pre-colonial times when people challenged the invasion and intrusion by the colonial masters. Jaja Opobo was exiled and a whole lot of other fighters. This flows down to the activism of the Aba Women Riots of 1929 when women took to the streets to protest harsh government policies. That generation continued the demand for good governance through the activities of nationalists up until the 1960s.

The generation that followed took over from where they stopped. Each time I challenged my dad about the passiveness of his generation, he reminds me that it was their generation who had the spine to go to war over what they considered unjust treatment of their people by the then federal government. In 1967, it was in protest against the pogrom and ill-treatment of the Igbos that they seceded and fought a war for freedom and justice for 3 solid years. A war in which many lost their lives.

For the next 30 years of military rule, that generation was at the forefront of the fight for good governance. There have been protests in the 70s, 80s, and even 90s against unfair government policies. Members of the older generation lost their lives in this struggle for a better Nigeria. Saying that the older generation did not is an insult to the sacrifices of people like Gani, Dele Giwa, Ken Saro Wiwa, and the great Fela who risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones fighting the cause for a better Nigeria. Fela lost his mother. Ken and Giwa lost their lives. These are members of the older generation too.

How many persons can we point to today that are as voracious in their activism as the men mentioned above? The older generation produced great people who gave their lives fighting for a better Nigeria.

The democracy we enjoy or at least, even though not to its entirety, was fought for by members of the older generation. People like Woke Soyinka were sent on exile, some languished in prison and some paid the ultimate price in this fight.

Accusing the older generation of not fighting is an aberration and disregard for the sacrifices some of them made.

They had their victories and they had their defeats. It is left for this current generation to pick up from where they stopped and use modern ideas and energy to continue the fight for a better Nigeria.

One thing is for sure, while some persons from the older generation were fighting for a better Nigeria, the majority stayed away, and perhaps that could be one of the reasons why they failed in birthing a better Nigeria.

Even in this current generation, some persons are leading the fight for good governance, majority are staying away and even taking sides with their oppressors. It is very clear that the baton has been passed unto the current generation of youths to continue the struggle for a better Nigeria, it is however pertinent that this generation avoids the mistakes that led to the failure of the older generation or risk being taunted by the next generation.

 

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