I belong to the lost generation of Nigeria.
I am part of the youth that has been robbed of the opportunity to be proud of my country.
I was born just as things in Nigeria began to rapidly decline, after the hope that came with independence slowly began to look more and more like a distant dream.
I was born around the time Nigeria started suffering from the biggest brain drain in Africa, with young people trying to seek better opportunities left the country because they started to loose their hope in Nigeria.
My dad was not one of those people. He got a scholarship to study in France, and lived there for about 10 years but regardless of advice from his friends who are still scattered around Europe till today, decided that he had to go back to Nigeria to help his country develop its untapped potential and become one of the greatest countries in the world.
He said he had encountered a lot of foreign students from India, Malaysia, China and Egypt, all on government scholarships as well, who spoke of nothing but the ways they were going to go back home and improve things.
He was filled with so much hope, ambition, and dreams for his motherland, and also spoke of how things were going to improve as soon as democracy was instilled. Boy was he wrong.
My dad is one of those people that could never live anywhere else in the world, he is a Nigerian to the core, and believes in the Nigerian dream. But at the same time he is their biggest critic.
This post was inspired by our conversation last night, as I got a job, and I have decided to stay here for a while as opposed to going home.
And he said, the saddest thing about your generation is that you have been given no reason to be patriotic. My generation robbed you of the opportunity to believe in your country. You grew up in the age of degeneration, Nepa, water, fuel crisis, religious conflict, armed robbery, Niger delta, kidnapping, poverty, failing universities, strikes, bad roads, no health care, greed, selfishness, and the worst corruption humanly possible.
How can you believe in a country when this is all you have ever known. He said when he was growing up, yes they were poor, but so was everyone.
There was no mass accumulation of wealth that created a ridiculously wealthy upper class in the fastest time known to man.
There was a dream then that could be fulfilled with hard work-- go to school, get educated in a school that doesn't strike every week, with infrastructure that works and lecturers that care. Get a degree you worked for, not paid for or gotten through a number of disturbing ways and apply for a job.
Although the jobs were few and far between, they were chosen based on merits, and there was a chance to make something of yourself aka "the Nigerian dream"!
Don't get me wrong, there are people that are living out this dream everyday, but its harder with our generation because we have lost hope.
We have not lost hope in ourselves or our abilities, because the Nigerian spirit is too strong for that. The Nigerian music industry is the greatest example of that, an industry that is fuelled entirely by the resilience and talent of the youth.
But we have lost hope in Nigeria as a nation. When we think of our future, we don't think of how we can improve the country, but how we can improve ourselves in the country.
We see it as being out of our hands, the country is beyond what we as individuals can do to make it better. It doesn't help that the few people in Nigeria that have tried to do good have been made examples of. During military rule it was arrests of Ganni Fawemi, Abiola and death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and Dele Giwa.
During my time, the hell that Dora Akunyili, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, El-Rufail and one of my icons Nuhu Ribadu have been put through proves that its not worth it to try and "change" Nigeria unless you are ready to die.
And Nigeria is definitely not worth dieing for. The deaths of Bola Ige, Mr Dipo Dina, and Funsho Williams, all show that people will make noise for maximum one week, no one will be arrested or be held accountable and whatever point you were trying to prove will die with you.
We live in a country where people don't vote because we believe our votes don't count. We do not protest about anything because we believe it is a waste of effort and nothing will be done about it. We do not give feedback or take part in citizenry because you as an individual do not matter. We do not count. Our opinion means nothing. What is going to happen will, and we have accepted that our hands are tied, if we even have hands at all.
So the million dollar question is what should my generation do? Do we keep holding on to this dream that "e go better" even when we know that it most probably will not. We seem to getting to a point where something really drastic has to happen before we rally up and say enough is enough.
At this point we have to ask ourselves, will I be willing to lay down my life for Nigeria and all it stands for?