S’oro S’oke: Working Towards a Functional Balance in Society

So strange for someone who is not into social media, I have in the last 2 weeks tried to catch-up on events in Nigeria. What got my attention? Admiration at how the Nigerian Youths, in one voice (beginning Oct 8, 2020), coordinated themselves to speak out against the injustice, impunity, decadence, terrorism, corruption, worst and notable of all, the country’s failed institutions for which they called for reforms. So mind-boggling are the facts I was forced to come face-to-face with (I must confess: I had poor knowledge of Nigeria till this protest) and its all got me thinking?

How did a well-co-ordinated protest – a protest that got stakeholders, elder-statesmen, some government officials, parents and guardians and many more applauding while saluting the ingenuity and courage of the Nigerian youths; it even got the attention of international communities and notable international dignitaries – go south?  A post I read, tagged it: ‘The First Digitally Managed Resistance Movement’. And then ‘bang’, after almost 2 weeks of peaceful protesting, everything turned hellish. What went wrong? While over time properties burnt could be restored, whatever was lost could be regained. What about the lives lost? It is all so saddening.

Unfolding events are indicative of the high poverty level and an almost total lack of care of her people by the Nigerian government. A peaceful protest degenerating into a fight of the poor against the rich and an almost ethnic and religious conflict; is a very glaring picture of the extent of youth restiveness in Nigeria. Now, forgive my language. It is not used in a bid to sound derogatory or insulting. Its sole essence is to pass a message.  My two cents for leaders at whatever levels – local, state, federal, religious, ethnic – it is time we worked towards a balance in our society. Truly, all may not attain the same economic or social status or the same level of education and qualifications, but, let basic infrastructures and amenities be put in place for ease of living. Let opportunities abound for a comfortable, affordable and good standard of living. Bridge the massive chasm, note the differences and support the requirement to reduce the differences so as to ensure a cohesive and supportive environment. According to UNICEF, one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. All children, no matter where they live or what their circumstances (maybe), have the right to quality education.

Singapore in her story of growth, development and advancement, tells of how the government prioritized education and made it available to all. Classified as part of the Four Asian  Tigers (Bloomenthal, 2020), Singapore stands amongst the prominent world financial centres arising from an educated populace which is a common factor the Asian Tigers share. In 2014, World Economic Forum listed her the first in the list of top 10 most competitive and performing economies in the Asia-Pacific region. She ranks first in the region and second in the world for the fourth consecutive year (world Economic Forum, 2014).

Imagine what difference it would make if opportunities abound in Nigeria for education and enlightenment even up to the grassroots. Why?

The hoodlums tried to invade estates closeby. It was the neighbourhood ghetto boys that chased them away. They were quoted as saying during the lockdown, covid time, the community fed them and catered to their needs. So, it is time they protect their community. No one is an island. Investing in security is not necessarily investing in bricks and fences. (a Lagos, Nigerian resident, 22 October 2020.)

Just think of it. The much difference it would have made were they to be enlightened and oriented on positive role-playing and all they stand to gain in nation-building as against destroying. Enlightened enough to know, ‘we are shooting ourselves in the foot’  through the wanton destruction and burning of government institutions, public/private businesses and heritage buildings.  Enlightened enough to know: in the long run, the resultant effect is that things will be worse off than they were in the beginning, biting hard on all themselves inclusive. Enlightened enough to know such an act is a further exacerbation of the pains and plight of Nigerians except for a miraculous and divine intervention.

It is of the essence to ponder how we will address the imbalance in our society – the income gap, the high under and unemployment rate, the inequality and low-quality education between ‘The Haves and The Have Not’. Had they a better life, had they something doing, had they a stable source of income, could the narrative not have been different? Were they enlightened, educated or even slightly knowledgeable, would they have acted differently? The following is not an attempt at religiosity, but let us remember: ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’.  It is time they are re-oriented and on-boarded to have a sense of belonging. People who feel a sense of ownership in a state/country are less likely to destroy it.