Dr Wale Omole, a renowned medical practitioner and founder of the National Problems and Solution (NPS), talks about the lessons in the EndSARS crusade by the Nigerian youth to bring about positive change in the scheme of things in the country. KUNLE ODEREMI brings some excerpts of the interview:
WHAT do you think about the EndSARS protests and the attendant fallouts?
It was totally avoidable if we, as a people, had not derailed from the primary function and duty of government. For decades, we treated this core responsibility as codified in constitution and international charters with levity and that’s why we are paying the price costly today. Government, as an institution that should show the way, act as catalyst and give assurance, has all been motion and no movement. As a country, we abandoned those virtues that exalt a nation. As leaders, we despised the essence of leadership, embraced impunity, promoted and sustained a culture of injustice, greed and avarice at the expense of the welfare and well-being of the vast majority of the Nigerian citizens. Power has become the veritable instrument of oppression and suppression and other dehumanising mentality of the elite. There is total absence of visionary, focused and forthright generational leaders of the past. We have almost destroyed the template those leaders created and bequeathed for economic growth and development. Our youths have been reduced to canon fodders, miscreants, scoundrels and thrown into slave labour, prostitution, drug addiction and cyber crimes. Many have become guests in other countries as sub-humans and prisoners. So, this is why we seem to be in dire straits. It has been a gradual rot; it festered and now, we are beginning to reap the wirldwind. But there’s still hope if we are prepared to do the needful, which includes to redefine our priorities based on contemporary realities, embrace global practices in human capacity building, restructure our psyche, political system towards empowering the youths, restore functional political arrangements and adopt a bottom-up approach to development. There’s still hope, given the vast opportunities in the land. There’s is still hope in view of the huge human and natural resources begging to be tapped into by a purposeful, visionary and transparent and honest leadership. The country needs leaders with a human face; leaders with profound commitment to the ideals of a progressive society; leaders Nigerians can vouch for. No country succeeds without serious planning for today, tomorrow and the future. And the youths are central to that envisioned greater tomorrow and future. To turn a blind eye towards that plan of action is to lay landmines for the days ahead. Period!
But the challenges have remained with 21 years after Nigeria returned to civilian rule. So how best do you believe we can restore sanity at home?
One, everyone must admit that there’s a deluge of challenges. There’s continuous brain drain to better organized societies. There’s an abundance of successful Nigerian professionals cutting across all fields making waves in developed countries. They are willing to return home to contribute their own quota to taking Nigeria to where it ought to be in the comity of nations. But they need an assurance that they are indeed needed by their country. They are conscious of the fact that every country has its own challenges and must continuously make honest efforts to address them. Nigeria cannot be an exception. But the totality is that all the stakeholders in the Nigerian project must be carried along. There is no doubt we need to reinvigorate the existing system, give meaning to our collective aspiration and allow a healthy, competitive and purposeful arrangement that survives the test of time. The rest is moving on steadily; they won’t wait for us.
When the disbanded SARS personnel were killing and harrassing the innocent Nigerian youths for decades, what were the elders and leaders doing?
They were busy politicking and amassing wealth. The life or future of the youths did not matter. Only the acquisition of wealth and positions mattered to them. Only few youths had the opportunity to go abroad to work or study legitimately. A majority were stinking in poverty at home or checking out illegally. Our ladies became prostitutes. The young men became robbers and Yahoo boys. Can anyone count how many Nigerian youths who died in Libya while trying to cross to western countries? The Nigerian youths were/are rejected at home and abroad. They were killed and brutalised in other nations. They were chased out of many countries. To survive, many Nigerian youths ended up becoming prisoners! Many left home only to go and damage the name and image of Nigeria in their attempt to survive and live. Nigerians are in prisons all over the world. Some are on death row. Many have been officially executed. The western countries love Nigerians for being smart, intelligent and brilliant. But they are scared of us based on the assumption that many Nigerian youths are criminals. This is the fate of millions of youths, who did not have the opportunities to genuinely travel abroad or get employment at home.
Many PhD holders applied to be truck drivers in Dangote group of companies some years ago.
Why preaching to the youths now? Why did the elders not do so before the youths lost their patience? Why administer the ïmedicine after death? The protest was peaceful and highly organised at the beginning. Why did anyone consider shooting these youths (as usual) a solution; things might not have degenerated to this level?
Perhaps all those who knew the right things to preach, but failed to preach them before the crisis, have to account for their deeds. I agree that the crisis on ground is a product of many years of leadership failure and the failure of the Nigerian elders, in particular. The elders ought to have called the government attention to the behaviours of many SARS officials and the challenges facing the youths. If you chase a goat to the wall you will learn if it can become a carnivore with its teeth or not.
At this stage of the situation, what will be your message to your compatriots?
It is time for all the warring youths to stop further protests and destruction. All parties have learnt one lesson or the other in this crisis. The leaders should lead right. The elders should feel for the youths. The police should do things moderately. The privileged few stealing the national wealth should stop. They should stop flaunting their wealth before the hungry, deprived and oppressed youths. They are not blind. Neither are they morons. They see how sons and daughters of politicians live flambouyantly and spray at social gatherings with impunity.
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The youths should be loved by the government and the elders. They should be brought into governance. Let them participate in the governance.They constitute a huge resource to the government if they are not allowed to waste away any more. Give them jobs.
The government should go and rescue its citizens in various prisons all over the world. After this crisis, Nigeria will emerge stronger and better in all things.
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