John O. Ifediora

Editorial commentary @Ifediora_john

February 25, 2023 marks a fork in the road for Nigeria and its inhabitants of unknown number…the boarders are too porous for an informed estimation or reasoned statistical extrapolation. But by all accounts, it is a large number, and collectively operates the largest market for consumer goods in Africa and exports a significant fraction of fossil fuels that drive the global economy. These alone give Nigeria a global presence, hence what it does matters. But the country’s history of unrealized potential and a battered global image of its citizens have not been salutary to economic development and have progressively gotten worse as the country swaps one rotten leadership for another. A list of the ills that have defined the lived experiences of Nigerians beginning in the early 1980s is a matter of record and need not be recounted here, but one thing stands out in the current effort to decide who would lead Nigerians in the next four years … this plebiscite will  be largely defined by the young who are now compelled and energized to re-define their future prospects, their global image, and that of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s young are more populous than the old and aged, they consume more education than the preceding generation, they possess more technical skill sets and are by far better integrated into the global space than all their predecessors combined. That they have risen to demand a severance of the umbilical cord that links them to their unpleasant and shameful past is a most meaningful course-correction imperative to date that is at once aesthetically pleasing and yet  prepotent. In the midst of powerful voices advocating the status quo of patronage politics, the vast majority of young voters identify with the message and a break from the past advanced by Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labor Party. That he is young, speaks their language of clean government, frugal by temperament, and boasts a record of administrative sagacity endear him to the young and the old alike eager for a change. It would be a shame to disappoint them.

The decision to deliver a new nation is now squarely in the hands of Nigeria’s young; the old and the aged cannot be relied upon entirely to break from the past and may indeed be obliged to stay the course by habitual instincts informed by pecuniary gratification. Patronage politics is well and alive in Nigeria, and may very well deliver the country, once again, to the county’s political gangsters. This too, will be shameful.