If you are oblivious of the latest reality show going on in Nigeria, then you must have been hibernating under a rock or something. What started as the “ambition” of a young man to according to him “fulfill a promise” he made two years ago to trek from Lagos to Abuja to celebrate in solidarity with General Muhammadu Buhari should he emerge winner of the 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria has quickly escalated into a competition of sorts resulting in not less than eight other young Nigerians trekking from one part of the country to the other in order to show support for their political candidate. Like almost every other venture in Nigeria, the bandwagon effect has taken its full course on this trekking madness.
The list keeps growing everyday. Since the Katsina state born Suleiman Hashimu pioneered the trend, the roll call of trekkers has seen different breeds of Nigerians join the craze. Men, women, the physically challenged and even a nursing mother (whom I personally think should be arrested for endangering the life of a baby) have all jumped on the “trekking train!” And just when we thought we had seen it all, in the latest wave of absurdities, five men have chosen to take things several notches higher by vowing to trek from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia in solidarity with Buhari. At first the trekkers appeared to only be trekking for the president-elect, but unsurprisingly, just like in mainstream politics, the “Jonathanians” not to be outdone have 2 to 3 people of their own taking up the “challenge” in honour of the soon to be former president too. They claim to be celebrating their hero who displayed rare statesmanship by conceding defeat thereby averting what could have resulted in a war.
As amusing as this theatrical show may be, it brings to the fore the deeper problem of unemployment among the youths. The truth is that there are too many young people with too much time on their hands. A look at the age bracket of the people who have embarked on this adventure reveals their average age to be 35 years old. Now, these are men and women who are in their prime; the heydays of their lives, and so when we have young people who should be putting their strength and agility to productive use trekking the length and breadth of the country to celebrate politicians then we need no one to tell us that we are in trouble. Pray, if these trekkers had regular jobs or private businesses they were growing would they have the time or energy to waste on a senseless venture? And if at all they had to trek for a cause, there are several worthy causes they could have channeled their clearly abundant energy into.
There are only scanty parts of Nigeria that can boast of 6 hours of uninterrupted power in a day (as a matter of fact, in my area, we barely enjoy 6 hours of power supply in 2 weeks), yet nobody has thought to trek to the PHCN head office or the Federal Ministry of Power to protest this shameful cross that we have been condemned to carrying as a country through the years. Our politicians have been robbing us blind, looting the treasury at will but all we do as young people is to complain and insult each other on social media. Nobody has opted to trek to the EFCC or ICPC head offices and the Ministry of Justice to demand that more should be done to bring corrupt government officials and politicians to book.
The scourge of Cancer, HIV, Kidney diseases and other terminal illnesses all require volunteers to create more awareness to the plight of those who are suffering from these ailments, yet these youths never thought of walking to raise funds for these causes but find it very convenient to trek for a politician who doesn’t know them and may never even dignify their self inflicted “long suffering” with a handshake. Yet we wonder why young people are not taken too seriously in the scheme of things, especially when it comes to running for political offices. It is the same reason why we keep recycling the same old politicians who have been ruling even before I was born.
General Yakubu Gowon became Nigeria’s head of State at age 32. The late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu became the military governor of the Eastern region of Nigeria at the age of 33. Chuka Umunna, the British labour politician has been a Member of Parliament for Streatham since 2010 when he was only 31 years old. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the crtically acclaimed Nigerian author and novelist won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book as well as a host of other awards before she was 30. Indeed, there are several other young people who are not in the limelight but are excelling in their various fields of endeavour, yet some young able bodied Nigerians believe that the best way to gain recognition is by trekking for politicians whose children live in luxury and school abroad.
It is a pathetic situation, an error of ignorance…a fallacy of reasoning.