William Golding’s allegorical novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ recounts the experiences of a group of boys marooned on an Island following a plane crash. While on the Island, a faction of the boys led by Ralph is committed to genuine efforts towards their rescue by raising a fire while another faction, led by Jack, is committed to hunting and having fun.
The latter group gradually degenerates into savagery, embracing primitive life, repudiating civility, and all attempts towards a rescue. Intriguingly, the majority of the boys choose the way of perdition with Jack while only three others, Sam, Eric, and Piggy identify with Ralph.
In this way, the evil naturally outnumbers the good, reminiscent of the Biblical admonition that “wide is the gate, and broad is the way which leads to destruction, many follow it but narrow is the way which leads to life and only a few find it”. Some critics have flayed Golding for gender bias, for failing to include girls in the adventure, exonerating the female gender from the general social malaise.
Events in the novel rehash the Nigerian situation with regards to the youths of the land. As Nigeria turns fifty-nine years, it is important to beam a critical searchlight on Nigerian youths. In the face of the prevailing socio-economic and political deformities in Nigeria, some youths have demonstrated the Spartan ethos to win through hard work while many others are irredeemably marooned on an Island of confusion and despair. While very few Nigerian youths are galvanized to making a positive headway out of the blind alley, many of them are headed in the wrong direction with the kind of proverbial determination that leads the obstinate fly into the grave.
Given the kind of cosmetic sensibilities that hold sway among many Nigerian youths, given the kind of inexplicable inanities, the kind of pervasive culture embraced by many of our youths, the expression “youths are the leaders of tomorrow” have lost merit over the years. Indeed, it is sad to watch our teeming youths indulge in all manner of immoral past time, all shades of behavioural distortions, and values that negate the basic principles of good behaviour.
Today, many Nigerian youths are morally deficient. They are not interested in government policies, they are not interested in reading newspapers, and they are not interested in what the government is doing. They abhor hard work but are engrossed in the acquisition of wealth. They want to drive the best cars, be seen in the best circles and adorn the best apparels. Most male youths in Nigeria are greedy and lazy, heaping all the blames on the government. Either they are into internet scam, kidnapping, armed robbery or other forms of roguery to make money. Most female youths in Nigeria are morally retarded. They present a façade of innocence but behind that facade lays serpentine guile, willing to debase their womanhood for a plate of food. They do not believe anything can be achieved without a wilful defilement of their womanhood.
To pass exams, to get employment, their bodies are the answers. They are innately greedy, want to use very expensive phones, wear very expensive wigs and indulge in all manner of vanities to be seen as living a good life. As Nigeria celebrates her independence, what role should the youths play towards achieving a country of their dreams? Of course, there are intelligent, precocious youths in Nigeria, there are hardworking youths in our country, there are youths who are committed to good behaviour, excellence, modesty, and a champion mentality. The reality is that they are outnumbered by their irreverent counterparts who unfortunately make efforts daily to deplete the population of the good ones. I have met youths of all-round brilliance, character and outlook but worryingly, these youths are few. On the other hand, the deviant youths are everywhere; they are in all corners of society. The youths who are positively inclined are under pressure daily, one hopes that they do not collapse under constant pressures from their marooned counterparts. While the good youths are in their hundreds, their disoriented counterparts are in their millions and this portends grave danger for the future of the country.
Many times in the past, we have blamed parents and government for the fate of the Nigeria youth but the time has come to also look inwards and have a second look at those who call themselves youths, those between the ages of 18 to 45. Within this age bracket, you find people who are grossly established in the culture of wealth by all means, those who worship at the altar of mammon, the god of wealth.
While their country boils, while the government diminishes their future by increasing VAT and taxes, while the country is faced with all manner of chicanery by the government, many Nigerian youths look away. Either they are maniacally following a TV reality show, or they are showing a reprehensible addiction to European football, or even imbibing foreign values in terms of indecent dress code, speech manners and other oddities. Nothing can be more absurd. This is in a country that lacks the youthful force to protest police and SARS brutality, this is in a country that lacks the youthful base to protest the flaunting of court orders by the government, and this is in a country that lacks the youthful anger to resist the rape of the judiciary. It seems that the days when youths forced a change in government policies are long gone.
Some youths lucky to be in tertiary institutions are disasters. Many undergraduates and graduates can’t string simple, correct English sentences together, they can’t defend their course of study and will always give merchants their projects to write for a fee.
Those of them who go into music sing utter rubbish, obscene lyrics that bother on sex and love without any social mobilization undertone like the days of yore. Nigeria is in a mess given the kind of youths we have these days. It appears that the Big Brother reality TV show is a ploy to engage the Nigerian youth while the serious business of state is carried out clandestinely. Parents should do more, teachers should do more, and religious institutions should also do more to retool the value system in our society.
In this period of independence celebrations, the Nigeria youth must stand up to be counted. In all parts of the country, youths should legitimately form groups and associations, demanding from elected politicians and government officials, accountability to the people. Nigerian youths should look beyond insipid crumbs from the tables of corrupt politicians, they should refuse to be compromised by short-term lucre in exchange for their long-term future. The Nigerian youth must have a voice in what is going on both at the state level and national level. The aluta continua mentality which saw to the abrogation of many obnoxious government policies in the past should be revived and maintained. The future is not tomorrow, the future is now.
Dr. Adiele writes from Lagos via