Opinion | The Nigerian Youths And The Challenges Of Generational Gap: A Call To Action

By Ogbu A. Ameh

From time immemorial, the roles of youths in any human society determined the survival of the continual existence of the society. Every society like the living organism depends on the productive energies of youthful productive age.

A generation is “all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively”. It can also be described as “the average period generally considered to be about “Thirty years” during which children are born and grow up, become adults and begin to have children of their own.

Ironically, the Nigerian youths of post independence Nigeria can only imagine this apposite definition of generation than experience the real practical existentiality.

Therefore, within the timeline of post independence Nigeria, different negative variances of the definition begin to creep into the sociological lexicon of generation in Nigeria. The media was abashed with No Future Ambition generation from the mid eighties to mid nineties. Until today, all other definitions could only re echo that mother of all definitions, as the future of Nigerian youths keeps looking bleaker by the day.       

In the build up to to independence in pre-colonial Nigeria, youthful Nigerian leftists in their mid-twenties had a clear-cut revolutionary agenda on how to undermine tribalism and ethnic politics in 1948. Today, one of the herculean tasks before Nigerian youths is the monstrous evolution of what started as tribal politics metamorphosed into ethnic politics and now, identity politics. This phenomenon always lies latent and stoke by ideological barren politicians during elections.

The pre independence youths were nationalists, some even veered into socialist revolutionary tendency by diverting attention from primordial sentiments to revolutionary rallies, lectures, campaigns and agitations, and those were interventions with the methods available to them. The Nigerian youths today, go cup in hands begging to eat the crumbs from older politicians table by doing their dirty jobs (ballot snatching, election rigging, intimidation of oppositions and violent disruption of the electoral process and sundry criminal activities).

History rarely poses questions which revolutionaries of any age cannot answer or resolve with materials and methods available to them. The youths on campuses in Nigeria’s Ivory Towers today are worse than the ones on the street; as they throw progressive agenda to the dogs and chose to be protégées of politicians by doing their biddings for fees.  National Association of Nigerian Students today produces two factional presidents at every election and the entire students’ community splits along that line. They failed to remember that the urgent task for them in their generation is the articulation of revolutionary theoretical consciousness and praxis under the direction of visionary socialist tendency leadership to speak to contemporary ethnic or identity politics championed by the older generation’s politicians.

It is incumbent on the Nigeria youths of this generation to distill from the thoughts of numerous Thinkers of old on the expectations of any generation of youths in every society of the world. Flowing from these trajectories of thoughts, Frantz Fanon fired the first salvo when he asserted that; 
“Each generation out of relative obscurity discover its mission fulfill it or betray it”.    
Thomas Jefferson, one time president of the USA proclaimed in the same vein, “it is incumbent on every generation to pay its debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

Noah Feldman went philosophical as he noted that; “every generation gets the constitution that it deserves. As the central preoccupations of an era make their way into the legal system, the Supreme Court eventually weighs in and nine lawyers in robe became oracles of our national identity.

Ellison Orizuka charged that; “every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new words- to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.Ben Boar etall observed that; “in general, every generation has the duty to pass the planet on in no worse a condition than it had been.

Finally, Rawis belief refers to “Saving Principle” that every generation has an obligation to “Save” for future generations. Laura Westra concludes that; “the thing to note is the rights and duties. Thus, every generation has the right to inherit the earth in a condition better than it been.

As we share these thought provoking epistles on the roles expectations of youths in every society, let us take a cursory look at the deeper theoretical definitions of generation gap and its causes and effects. 

A generational gap is a difference of opinion between one generation and another regarding beliefs, politics or values. In today’s usage, generational gap often refers to perceived gap between younger people and the parents or grandparents (older people).

Causes and Consequences:

Generation gap are caused by increased life expectancy, rapid changes in society and mobility of society. It negative effects include conflict among family members of different generations and misunderstanding of values and beliefs system. At the family unit being the fundamental basis of political authority, these identified causes and effects trickle into the various social institutions of the larger society. Hence, the consciousness and agitation by a section of the Nigerian youths (Not Too Young to Run) was not, a misplaced priority and timing at all. It was a concrete reaction to the realities of their time using the available materials and methods.

The Divide and Conquer tactics of the political ruling elites with the politics of generation gap.

If the intergenerational divide is allowed to become a full-blown culture war, only the status quo will benefit, in the face of this, the youths must rethink how the older generations organized itself as a political force that keeps reinventing itself. Most of the Soviet Revolution literature deals with the formative experience as it reinforced or undermined claims of generation gap in political power and status.

All over the world today as politics and power evolve, the centrality of social conflicts revolve around generation gap. The old must die to bring forth the new in the cosmic miasma of a fast changing world. As I task the minds of many disillusioned Nigerian youths on these age-long challenges, it also serves as a wakeup call to action ahead of the next democracy ritual called election come 2023.

Comrade Ogbu A. Ameh, National Convenor Generation for Change Africa Initiative GFCAI, is based in Abuja www.gfcai.org.ng Email: info@gfcai.org.ng

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