A charge has gone to the youths in Nigeria not to be discouraged by the recent events that characterized the peaceful but hijacked protests to end police brutality in the country. This advice was handed down to the Nigerian youths by Mr. Kola Oyeneyin on his LinkedIn page. The 2020 Harvard Kennedy Alumni first took a look at the data and how the numbers are favourable to the youths. He said “On May 29, 2020 Nigeria’s democracy turned 21, and millions of young Nigerians also turned 21. In fact, between 1999 and today, ~83 million Nigerians have been born. Out of those 83 million, at least 72.5 million are alive and well (factor in avg. 10% death rate). ~15 million are those I call #BornDemocrats.” He further stated that by 2023, the number would have increased to 21 million making them having the influence to change democratic leadership.
Oyeneyin then went further to highlight changing values and the generational gap that impacted the protest they had in some parts of the country, especially in Lekki. He said “These young Nigerians, who can now vote or carry PVC, have never been under military rule, unlike some of us. That’s why they remained at the toll in Lekki. They have no idea what the military is capable of. They don’t know or care about IBB or Abacha. While they know of June 12, MKO may not be their hero. Fela’s music may have influenced many of us at some point, for them it is Davido, Wizkid.” The Founder of the Venia Group posited further that “When they think of activism/advocacy, Chief Gani Fawehinmi or Ken Saro-Wiwa aren’t their legends. History being out of school curriculum is to blame of course. However, we must accept that June 12 as important as it is, does not necessarily resonate with a whole generation.”
He then saluted their courage and creative ability which made them organize an online governance structure for the #EndSARS protest built on fintech and cryptocurrency saying they will define the future of the country. He called them the real youth of Nigeria. He said “Let’s face it, they practically created a whole governance structure for hashtag#EndSARS online; including cryptodonations. Both the ~21million who are politically active (above 18), and the remaining ~51million will define the future of Nigeria, whether we like it or not. They’re the real youth of Nigeria, not those of us in our late 30s or 40s. It is those young people that I write to, daily!”
He then advised them further enjoining them to do more in order for the labour of past heroes not go in vain. He said “For the Labour of our heroes past to not be in vain, we need you. We need you to not just be armed with historical knowledge but with vision and purpose. To not just be online, among the crowd, but to stand out and lead. To not just plan an incredibly peaceful protest but to now get ready to build a nation.”
He threw a gauntlet at them to leverage on the power of technology to build a nation of their dreams. He advised “while a Prof. Soyinka may be too old to continue to fight, holding the government accountable, you can. Many of those you look up today, started out right about your age. They did so much to push back on everything we still deal with today, and they didn’t have the weapon you now hold, tech. They too were arrested, beaten, jailed and some even killed. They dared our leaders in the past, stood in front of armoured tanks, and got tear-gassed over and again. They were not perfect, neither am I or you.”
In concluding his admonition, Oyeneyin went down the memory lane to again let the youths see how to draw from the past to create a future Nigeria of their own imagination where peace and justice will reign. He said “MKO eventually paid the ultimate price, for the democracy we are now attempting to make work. I challenge you (and I) today, to not let their labours be in vain. If organized, you’re powerful & have the numbers. That’s what govt. is afraid of. That’s why they came hard on you. You’re living in a semblance of freedom today, because many were bound. You and I have a responsibility, to not only preserve what we have, but to build a nation, where peace and justice shall reign! Don’t ever think it’s the end, it’s just the beginning.”