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Peaceful Protest: What Went Wrong?

The events of the last four days across Nigeria have been saddening and frightening.
These have proved the reality of what many right thinking Nigerians have been saying for many years.
What started as a peaceful protest suddenly went violent when hoodlums hijacked the process.
I saw the video of the destruction of several public and private property across Nigeria which can never be justified by any right thinking human being.
While some in the country have given reasons to either justify the destruction as a way of the youths expressing their grievances about police brutality, other elements in the society have tried to fuel further crisis by introducing ethnic coloration to the riots.
It is enough evil to justify criminality and more terrible creating ethnic tension in a society already divided over time.
The main issue is that the various attacks show the weakness of our institutions, the failure of our social and family systems, and most importantly the failure of our educational system.
In Nigeria, education now means to attend primary school, advance to the secondary school, write and pass needed examinations, gain admission into the higher institution, pass exams, graduate, serve with National Youth Service Corps then look for a job.
Education goes beyond this. Our graduates are largely illiterates who don’t know more than the courses they studied, some don’t even know a quarter of what they studied but just passed exams anyhow. This culture can not refine anybody.
What is the strength of our curriculum? Does it match with modern realities? That is why a youth who is supposed to have at least written the junior West African Examination Council examination would join a mob to attack government and private institutions.
Education should teach us that burning places of work can only create more unemployment, it should teach us destroying social amenities is a waste because taxes from the people were used to provide them and more taxes would be needed to replace them. Like the proverbial fowl said to be desecrating the pot without knowing it is only desecrating its own grave. Whatever this means, in this context it can be likened to one destroying his own property.
Education should teach our children that freeing prisoners sentenced for wrong doings and those awaiting trials over several criminal cases would only increase the crime rate in the society.
Education should teach us looting warehouses where palliative materials for the poor are stored can only make it impossible for the government to distribute to the right people in need.
Education should teach us that burning personal belongings can only stress insurance companies where people must lose jobs if further stressed. Two wrongs can never make a right is one of those idiomatic expressions that promoted values among youths in those days, I wonder if idioms are taught again in schools.
What do we have today? We have youths who want to get rich overnight and we have ready music lyrics preaching this vice without any orientation agency of the government correcting this evil. We have young people who are not readers, we have youths who can’t write simple letters, we have youths whose parents pay mercenaries to write their exams and most unfortunately some of these youths are becoming parents.
Instead of a massive public orientation, we have television shows promoting what used to be odd in our society. Parents and even government officials are also culprits here celebrating some of these things. At public functions we see our top government officials in trying to belong, dance to these lyrics that teach no value or intelligence, further encouraging what should not be.
In the past, musicians were public educators, music lyrics and contents of our local movies and dramas were good enough to leave children with; they were educative, they taught morals. Today, those things are gone as we mourn the loss of good old days.
Now the system has built miscreants, these were the people used to hijack peaceful protests, now causing mayhem in various places. We saw them developing while they were recruited during election years and armed by unscrupulous individuals to cause mayhem during the various elections. They did these just because of the greed to take over and be in.charge of allocation of resources.
Any politician who has ever done this should know he participated in the mayhem of the past week and must seek forgiveness from heaven who does not discriminate in serving out punishments.
How on earth would a Nigerian youth attack a traditional ruler’s palace, jumping on his throne? How on earth would a youth seize a traditional chief’s staff of office?
These only show the kind of parents we have today and the entire failure of the system.
I only think those at the helm of affairs can see through this to take lessons and do the needful.
A former governor now a minister was seen in a video recorded while he served as a governor saying that they (the ruling class) would be on the run when the poor go on a rampage. I wonder if he asked himself the reasons and what solutions in place.
It is time for a new Nigeria. The generation of hoodlums did not fall from heaven; the hooligans are product of the system.
For instance in 2019, 1.8 million youths wrote examinations to seek admissions into the tertiary institutions and only 750,000 admission slots were available. The figures keep swelling yearly without any deliberate efforts of the government to create schemes to absolve this generation of Nigerians into apprenticeship and other productive engagements.
The way forward should however start from sincerity of motives by the government to address obvious issues.
Also, there is need for a national rebirth, there is need for the Federal Government to restructure its National Orientation Agency which has done almost nothing in a decade as far as I know.
The agency must live by the meaning of the word orientation and give sane orientation to the public via every means the society can be reached.

Post Author: Dayo Emmanuel