Youths, Save Nigeria: essay by Ayokunle Adeleye


ONE Chance

“They have said you cannot pass JAMB at one sitting. That is not true.
They have said you must write WAEC, NECO, GCE, and whatever similar
exam you can find so you may at least pass one. That too is not true.
They have said you must permutate your WAEC, NECO and GCE results to
gain admission into university. That cannot be true.”

…That is how I strike the chord. That is how I gain their attention.
That is how I interest their intellect.

I happen to be a Member of Faculty of one or more NGOs whose primary
duty is the development of our teenagers, the encouragement of our
youngsters, the dedication to our collective future as a State. And
when it is my turn to speak, it is my turn to unearth their fears and
expose their anxiety, to illuminate their demons and brighten their
hope, to give them another chance, another thought, another


Believe it or not, our future is bright and able. And our youngsters
are scared as hell. Our tomorrow is certain as the word, certain as
our teenagers are uncertain of the dawn.

‘Shall I see the morrow? What will the future bring?’ lie quietly in
the minds of our children as they see older ones jobless, hopeless and
tired, riding òkadà and rigging elections, joining cults and selling
their souls, lamenting birth in a country that was once the land of
milk and honey, or outrightly dead having succumbed to join our
astronomical death statistics, having been through our abysmal
healthcare system.

And so I tell them of the New Nigeria. After all, as someone observed
a few years ago, we are the October-2nd generation, for the
October-1st shall soon fade away. So I tell them that the future is
bright and pleasant and welcoming. So I tell them that they too can be
part of this glorious future.


If they will make up their minds and be ready for the future.

If they will not make the mistakes our (fore)fathers made. If they
will not look for the easy way out, and sell their future.

If they will read well and study hard, study to show themselves
approved and worthy of the New Nigeria that cometh on our heels. If
they will face their books and keep their organs incarcerated in their
pants (and panties). If they will shun cultism and violence,
especially those instigated by our (shameless) politicians.

If they will not while time away or wallow in aimlessness. If they
will read everyday however busy or crammed or late the time is. If
they will believe in themselves and only so. If they will shun
examination malpractice.

If they will not wait on the government but on the might of their
hands and the height of their minds, continuously strengthening their
arms with focus and arming their minds with knowledge. If they will
limit their choice of material to the amount of hard-earned money they
possess, and not what anyone promises at campaigns, recruitments,
or/and commissionings. If they will limit their size and taste to what
they can afford as against what they desire. If they will cut their
coat according to their material, and not necessarily their size.

If they will forsake today for tomorrow. If they will invest in the
future. If they will keep their heads down.

If they will keep focus. If they will stay true.

If they will help one another up.

Yes, I intentionally hammer on education, integrity, discipline,
sacrifice, labour and unity. I subtly imprint on their subconscious
the desire to study. I quietly promote hard work and
self-accomplishment. I silently impart Anticipation. And I never
forget togetherness lest those who will have their kola broken for
them by a benevolent spirit forsake those not so fortunate and dismiss
them as lazy or irredeemable- as our (elitist) politicians are prone
to do once they take office.

As I know that knowledge is power, that knowledge is light, that
knowledge is key to our New Nigeria. As I know that only the dignity
in labour and the joy of rightful accomplishment can propel us to our
New Nigeria. As I know that Nigeria needs integrity and discipline,
and not the parasites currently at the helm of affairs.

Since I am not unaware of how decadent things have become; of how
standard exams we took few years ago with nothing save Four-figure
Tables now allow calculators when the countries that manufacture the
latter yet promote the abacus; of how parents now organise (and not
only support or pay for) exam malpractice, leakage of questions, and
provision of prepared answers; of how invigilators have since become
answer-providers; of how organising exam malpractice has become a
thriving business with coaching centres as cover.

Whatever has happened to our honour, and pride? Wherever is the
legendary dignity in labour? However shall we continue (to live) like

And as I chip those in every now and then, I do not lose sight of my
theme: You can gain admission into the university of your choice to
study the course of your choosing.

Before I began, my citation was read and they were excited. I do not
bother to ask them if they want a citation like mine; I know they do,
I just act like it is no big deal. But it is. I tell them it is easy.
And I show them how: If you read all the books in the world, then you
can answer any question, wherever in the world it is from.

I remind them that there are 52 weeks in a year, and that nearly all
of their textbooks have less than 50 chapters. So that, if they read a
chapter of a different textbook each day, such that they read a
chapter in each of ALL their textbooks each week, they would have read
through all their textbooks by the end of the year! And that if they
started in SS1, like I did, by SS3, they would have read through all
their textbooks at least twice.

Again they are excited. And they roar when I ask them if they won’t
then pass. Yet I am quick to tell them that it is never as easy as it
sounds, that it takes dedication, and cost me many a sleepless night –
although I always slept, even if less than the recommended eight hours
on a few of those many nights. And I am quick to add that it is never
too late to start, that one must resume each time he fell, failed or
outrightly quit, that the light at the end of the tunnel outshines all
the pains one will feel.

That they have one chance at making it work, at joining the league, at
securing a place in the coming Nigeria.

At the end of the day I impress them with stuff they always knew just
because I change the packaging: Their teachers always told them to
read, but I make it seem effortless. They always knew that people
gained admission every year, but it is my duty to tell them they too
can. I regale them with tales of how I did it, nobody that I am.

And in closing, I remind them that they are needed, that we need them,
that Nigeria needs them, for the future: That they are needed to be
world-class achievers (and not a local champion, like me), to not have
more than three children (just two, if they can), to acquire property
(not cars); so we can achieve the New Nigeria, together, so Youth
Leaders will not be 50+ or 60+ years old, so political office holders
will not be 60+ or 70+ years old, so they will not dangle
Chancellorship before us as compensation and loot the treasury in our

Now if you call that indoctrination, I will say I borrowed that from
Obasanjo. Abi when did you last read the National Pledge? And then,
àti kékeré n’Ìmàle ti n kó’mo e l’ásò; the Islamist teaches recitation
from childhood.

At least I am contributing to the realisation of the New Nigeria.
We have got just one chance at it.
What are you doing?

#Youths, save Nigeria. It’s our turn.
Ayk Fowosire.