Everyone tells me I am part of a generation that is key to unlocking Nigeria’s potential, yet whenever the above question is posed to me, my reply is simply that I am not. I long came to the conclusion that the future generation of Nigeria is no different to the old (I sincerely hope to be proved wrong). Famously branded a nation that was part of the ‘Hopeless African continent’ by The Economist a decade ago, Nigeria is now being heralded as West Africa’s powerhouse, on track to becoming one of the 20 largest economies in the world by 2020. But are things really getting better? I’m not so sure.
Although trade and investment in Nigeria looks set to improve, my qualms are with the mindset of our younger generation (As a man thinks, so he is). I believe true change starts from a renewed mind and in my opinion; the mindset of our generation is not in the right place. Nigeria is on the rise and it is a known fact that our country needs strong leadership that is free of corruption, superficiality, religious and ethnic hatred, to push the country toward a new era of development. To combat this mindset from future generations, our parents made concerted efforts by making significant investments in our education. By Investing in tomorrow’s leaders, this was thought to make the world of a difference. However, as a British-Born Nigerian raised in England, my observations from interacting with other Nigerians living here in the UK has not been one to write home about. Having Schooled in Nigeria for 5 years and with much of my university years spent here in the U.K, I write as someone with respect and knowledge of my culture.
For some reason, Nigerians born and raised in Nigeria turn their noses up at British/Western-born Nigerians. It’s like there’s an unwritten code or that automatically demotes us. During my time at university, there were evident segregations between British born Nigerians and those who came straight from Nigeria paying ‘international fees.’ You either belonged to one or the other. The conventional belief being that the only way to be associated with the latter was if you wore designer clothes (Louis vuitton and Gucci belts). I remember having a conversation with a Nigerian that fell into this category who told me, “Omo boy be like LV and Hermes be big boy stuvs.” I also recall another experience when I caught up with friends after lectures. We were discussing future aspirations when my friend told me that for the next two months, Indomie(noodles) would be his best friend. The sympathy I felt for him at that point diminished as he proceeded to pull out a brand new 17 inch Macbook pro from his bag. I was just puzzled. I mean, that gadget is not cheap!
Let me clarify. There is nothing wrong with wanting the good things in life, however none of those I encountered seemed to have a clue about how to actually apply for a job. So where was this expensive taste, followed by an excessive expenditure, coming from? Actually, you’d be surprised. To fund this star studded lifestyle some would lie to their parents about how much their school fees were or worse money meant to be used for living expenses was squandered on trying to create this façade.
The issue to feel accepted into the ‘happening’ crowd also resurfaces amongst British born Nigerians who will often do anything to be part of that social scene. Concurrently, I do believe this issue stems from many who yearn to embody the celebrity status portrayed by the media.
Having said all of this, there are young Nigerians the world over who are seeking to do well and are standing out from the crowd. However, perhaps it is just my experiences but it seems the overwhelming majority of our younger generation is not much better than our political leaders. We are just as superficial, ungrateful and unfocused.