Are youths truly the leaders of tomorrow?

An elderly woman of an unquestionable character and strength of rich experience who was vast in the area of education was invited to a Leadership Conference some few years ago by DayStar Christian Center pastored by Rev Sam Adeyemi as one of the guest speakers to thrill the invited audience on the subject she was asked to speak on. She dilated so eloquently and explicitly and even comprehensively on her leadership-related topic that the trajectory of applause could only be hurled at her. I gave her an adulation when I listened to her. She took the audience down memory lane and drew a demarcation between the way things were in the middle of the 20th century and the way things are now. She bemoaned the dichotomy in the way of life between then and now and taught us on how we the youths can offer Nigeria the best of leadership it wants, craves, desires, needs and deserves. She didn’t fail to enlighten us about the developmental strides Nigeria will experience if she gets the right kind of leadership. She climaxed everything and brought it to an end by mentioning the great men and women the past set values and virtues produced and the discipline they inculcated in themselves. She said the folks from the 20’s down to the early 60’s were well-behaved, simple, empathetic, dignified, reverential and conducted their affairs with probity and proprietary. She didn’t fail to mention accountability as their watchword.

Then it was time for question and answer. She received a barrage of questions and she answered them to the admiration and consternation of those who cared to listen. Then one deep-thinking fellow asked her a question which I felt was in behalf of the populace who are indigent and impoverished. She showered encomiums on her and then asked her the reason why the same set of people – the older generation who grew up in the same enabling environment, who had a good system of education with the same set and values with the ones she enumerated had and who found themselves in the corridors of power, both gone and present, masquerading as our leaders are churning out bad leadership, stripped of good character and integrity and are only concerned about dipping their ten fingers into the coffers at the expense of the good of all? The question caught the speaker off guard. She belched and did a 15secs thinking. She sincerely owned up and said she could not explain where things went wrong and what went wrong. She only begrudged the reasons why the good eggs never found themselves on the seat of power. Then there rented the hall of the church a palpable insistence that the older generation has failed us. They could not only mutter it aloud that nemesis should catch up with them. The people tried to feign spirituality since they were in a church building. The other guest speakers thrilled the audience on their various and diversified topics, everything bothering on leadership but tactically avoided a probable answer to the one million dollar question. Maybe those who know the answer were not privileged to be at the symposium since they grew up together or even present there but didn’t want to provide the answer for fear of being maligned and morally incarcerated.

All these boil down to the burden in my heart. A generally-acclaimed slogan says youths are the leaders of tomorrow. I don’t dispute it. I only doubt it. Juxtaposing the lifestyle of some decades ago and the one at large now, one will conclude there should be no bad leaders from then especially with fewer vices to contend with. Can you now imagine the vices inherent in our system now? We all are the products from the same society at different times and dispensation from different hues. And the society is the amalgamation of different cultures and traditions attributable to different set of people.

As far as I know, 90% of today’s youths have nothing to offer Nigeria due to what fills our head. Some of us are not focused and directed towards any goal. Some are loosed morally, spiritually and verbally. We don’t extol the dignity of labor and never hold dear to our hearts the competence consistency offers. The level of our diligence is at the lowest ebb. The environment may not be enabling but it is not an excuse to be destitute of good moral judgment. The moral decadence among us makes me sick and nauseated. We don’t want to work again. We are only rapaciously and ravenously after quick money. Some of these young men and women have visited agony on others by duping them. They have hoodwinked foreigners by dubious business proposals and even when they got the money, they never invested it on anything but that is not to say the money won’t fly away eventually because it is another person’s sweat. They will rather take to partying, clubbing, drinking out of stupor and take to promiscuity. The ladies who ignorantly and covetously satisfy the whims and caprices of these suddenly-rich fellows get their comeuppance by being used for charms and juju.

The police are also culpable of this. Instead of apprending these indolent folks, they’d rather connive with them and give them some support in exchange for some money. All the banks spread across the length and breadth of Nigeria also play a pivotal roll in this allegation. The proceeds from the dubious business proposals from abroad arrive through the banks but there’s no law against such a thing as seizing the money and arresting the purported beneficiary except those ones that had luck run against them. Our leaders are pen robbers and pen robbers control armed robbers.

I commend those who strive to be morally right and spiritually upright. I commend those who revere the dignity of labor and those who discharge their duty conscientiously.

The leaders of tomorow must be refined, tested, trusted, proven, unquestionable and deserving. Since the present ones are fast becoming bereft of ideas and lasting solutions to the intractable problems beleaguering our nation, new ones must be birthed. The new ones can be birthed if our society can be completely overhauled by the various institutions and firms we have following the pace being set by the home front. If not, the future danger is constituted in our youths who will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Author: Olajide Oluwafemi