‘My father’s generation failed mine’ (2)

NigeriaContinued from yesterday MOST of the universities then had new facilities; they had good classrooms, hostels; and the graduates faced little or no competitions after the university. Nigerian educational institutions were so strong then, you dare not cheat in exams etc.

Today, Nigerian universities are suffering from a reversal of fortunes. University of Ibadan, for instance, then, was amongst the best ten in Africa nay, in the Commonwealth.

The same university today is the 35th in Africa according to the current Webometrics ranking of African universities. My father’s generation never cared to sustain the quality of education they enjoyed for my generation.

They are the big professors of today, vice-chancellors, principals, headmasters etc. They are in charge of all sectors of our national polity. They never thought of maintaining the standard of education in these universities, secondary schools, primary schools, all of them.

They never paused to wonder if my generation will enjoy the privilege of being accosted by prospective employers for jobs the same way they all got jobs the next day after graduation. Most of them today are principals, and have their schools being used as special centres during WASSCE, NECO and JAMB exams.

Most of them that work in senior positions at the bodies that administer these exams are the ones that release question-papers through the backdoor to my own generation for financial gratification. They are the professors and lecturers that my generation sorts today to get better grades.

Worst of all, they never thought of population explosion and so have no safety net to cushion its dire consequences. They saw our value system die. They saw our set of morals die.

They saw integrity get deleted from our polity. They saw the facilities they enjoyed in the universities depreciating, never to be sustained. While they went to the universities with scholarships in their days, today, we have nothing like that anymore. They saw everything get worse.

They are the ones EFCC chases today. They are the ones that instituted corruption; practically taught us corruption; and saw most of our institutions die. They fuelled the decay of a lot of social services.

They saw the military get corrupted. They saw the police get corrupted. They have been managing the affairs of the country for decades.

They rig elections, and ask my generation to help them carry ballot boxes. They are the ones that give my generation moneys that we share to voters at polling booths.

They are the governors that do not perform. They are the ones that now send their children who are part of my generation abroad to enjoy education of global quality, because education institutions here are pretty dead. They are the ones that boast of how many of their children they have sent abroad for quality education.

They are the ones that widened the inequality gap in the country to a large degree. They are the ones that have fuelled the establishment of private universities as they watched the public ones die. Today, these public schools are so dead, that they are basically for the poor people, and one cannot rely on the low quality of education that Nigerians get in most of them.

Even with the enormous school fees paid in those private schools, the quality of education delivered there cannot be compared to what my father’s generation obtained at the public schools of their days. In the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, they were the military dictators that fuelled corruption, nepotism and tribalism. They inherited a young country and never made the best of it.

The ones that were not within the circle of the military dictators were watching arms akimbo, while their mates were messing up the country. They never bothered about National Unity. They fuelled tribalism, and practically made religious schism state policy.

They championed ethnicity rather than build a nation, and then taught us to hate each other based on our ethnicity and religion. They are the senators that write recommendation letters for my generation to get jobs in Federal Government establishments as nothing is by merit any longer – -a deplorable development they encouraged. They are the very ones that give us moneys to pay to get jobs in Federal Government establishments.

They are the ones that never really protested for anything in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s against the military dictators or showed sufficient resistance that would have prevented the military dictators from running the country the way they did. They are still the ones that tell us not to protest against the government.

While I am not trying to defend my generation, I really wish that the root of the systematic damage of the psyche of my generation should be properly examined.

Who started voting along ethnic and religious lines? Who is in charge of INEC, Police Force, etc? My father’s generation. In reality, my generation has suffered because of the failure of my father’s generation.

Our dreams are dying. We have no hope for the future. We are witnessing a country at the worst of her times. We are being subjected to even things you can call human experimentation just to get jobs.

We are the ones that stay for years at home because there are no jobs while they treat us to tales of how the Naira used to have a very high value, how things were so cheap, and how they just started working after the university and started families immediately with adequate finances and basic necessities.

Today, the Naira has been so devalued, with high cost of living, to the extent that my generation has seen young Nigerians that worked for years and cannot even start a family can’t pay a bride price.

These young Nigerians can neither pay rents nor afford basic necessities. Further, because of terrible pays, unemployment swells. Perhaps, we may also inquire as to the identity of the generation who devalued the Naira? Who watched things get extremely costly, unlike during their days when things were cheap? We are the ones that write five tests and go for series of interviews to get a N50,000 job because of galloping unemployment, while someone of my father’s generation had already made his list, full of relations and friends’ children, to put into jobs.

We are the ones that are facing a highly competitive polity, with a highly hostile environment to start anything. My generation is paying the price of a damaged society, a neglected society, neglected by my father’s generation.

We are the ones everyone is asking to embrace entrepreneurship, while they graduated with companies and institutions knocking on their doors for employment.

We are the ones that live nine-in-a-room in university hostels while the females among us are subjected to sexual assaults by them to get good grades in the universities. We are the ones that are suffering in a society where you hardly get anything done by merit.

During their time, most of them who came from very poor backgrounds only just had to be intelligent and hardworking for things to get better for them. This is not so anymore in this society that they have left for us.

Now, it is all about whom you know and corruption. By the way, who even started whom-you-know? My father’s generation was a very selfish one.

They failed to lead by example. My generation has only mostly rogues to look up to. They never planned for us. And never mentored anyone positively. They failed in several respects when compared with their mates in other countries, especially outside Africa.

They could not build sufficient infrastructures when there was a boom in oil revenue which is sine qua non for favourable economic environment.

Thus, we can say with an assured measure of confidence that my father’s generation also failed socio-economic wise. They saw everything deteriorate, while they inherited everything, brand new, good and fine. They never demanded anything from the government.

They never wanted change. They are the ones that tell us how beautiful London is but never worked on any city in Nigeria to be that beautiful. My father’s generation failed in everything, from governance to administration. They never sustained social goods.

While they criticise my generation, they should look at what they are about leaving us with. • Concluded. • Umezulike is a Nigerian secular humanist, human rights defender, novelist and essayist. Follow on twitter: @ClueXxxRdh

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