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Thursday 24 July  
Billboard ad for the University of Lagos, Nigeria (2005)
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Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria

Is it a crime to be young and educated in Nigeria?

Published on : 10 November 2012 - 10:58am | By ((C) Flickr/zouzouwizman)
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I write this piece with a heavy heart, and a soul full of pain and anger. It's for the first time in a long while I am contemplating mayhem and bloodshed. Not just the havoc unleashed by the Boko Haram dogs of war has set my own blood boiling. The killing of four students, three from the University of Port Harcourt, by an irate village mob has sharply brought the nature of humanity in Nigeria into my focus.

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema, Lagos

Barely a week before this unleashing of thunder and lightning, close to 40 students were summarily dispatched in Adamawa in the troubled northern part of the country. The manner of their killing was undoubtedly scripted by Satan, straight from hell.

Putting these tragedies together and musing over the bloody terrorists’ campaign that has claimed promising young lives, I have to ask: is it a crime to be young and educated in Nigeria? What have the youth of Nigeria done to deserve this public stripping in broad daylight? No sane society deliberately destroys its foundation – but that is what is happening here. Although the scenarios and circumstances differ, the end result is the same: uprooting the flower of the nation.

I dare say that Nigerians between ages 11 and 40 are an endangered species. Especially those who are educated or show the potential to speak for themselves. Various factors have promopted this campaign against Nigerian youth by their society. Corruption. Poverty. Lack of realistic and humane national youth policies. Continued adherence to primitive religious and cultural beliefs and practices. The institutionalised gagging of young people. Inefficient law enforcement and security systems. Dereliction of duty by parents and schools. And, not insignificantly, the short-comings of young people themselves. These are but a few such factors.

Keep screaming
How the Jonathon administration handles the Uniport and Mubi murders will determine what we, young Nigerians, conclude about the role of his government, supposedly led by a member of the younger post-independence leadership class. I call upon all Nigerians and their friends to continue screaming till something happens.

What manner of human beings inhabit Aluu, the village where the boys were butchered without a hearing? It is doubly shocking when you realise that it is the hometown of Elechi Amadi, the famous Nigerian author and a man of character, intellect and compassion. Many questions abound. But for now let us beam our searchlight on the police investigation into the matter. This should not be ended till all who washed their hands in these boys’ blood pay the price.

Let all Nigerians realise that if the youth reach the end of their tether, all of us will burn.

Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema is a young Nigerian writer, historian and media worker. His articles, fiction and poetry have been widely published in online and print media. He contributes to RNW and Dutch monthly The African Bulletin.

 

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