Vividly, I remember the stomping feets while we sang “1st October, 1960, Nigeria got her independence, O freedom”. Fascinated by this lyric, every information I found regarding the history of Nigeria’s independence I read.I was captivated; I still am. What great heroes these men were! How could men so few achieve a feat so great? I yearned to be like them, I still do.
But how can I? I belong to a generation always referred to as “leaders of tomorrow”. Although now grown, it has been registered in my mind that I am a leader of tomorrow. Will tomorrow ever come? Oblivious, I still believe that the tomorrow I have heard about lies far ahead awaiting my arrival. But this is untrue, today is the tomorrow I heard about yesterday.
Of course, it was as I grew older that I came to realize the great past heroes like Herbert Macauley, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Ahmadu Bello, Anthony Enahoro and Tafawa Balewa played. These were men in their prime, men like you and I. Young, but having the wisdom of the aged (probably exaggerated, but lets choose to believe), probably short, but never shortsighted in vision, often shut up, yet speaking louder, locked up in prison for protesting, but never giving up on the dream; the dream to be free, the dream to walk the streets of a nation without the oppressive rule of colonial masters or any other form of oppression, the dream of having their voices heard, the dream to access equal rights with every other citizen of the country.
As the modern day activist Aisha Yesufu rightly said, “no Nigerian is more Nigerian than any other Nigerian”.
These were men like you and I, men from different cultures yet working together to mould one sculpture, men blessed with diverse tongues, yet singing one song; the song of freedom. This is the Nigeria our past heroes laboured for; this is the time Nigerians need to arise to the notion that her differences build her up, not tear her down, for we are better together.
It is now, more than ever, that Nigerians need to lay down their weapons of regions and religions. If the present state of Nigeria with citizens against each other because they speak different languages or are from different religions was all our past heroes thought they fought hard for, then we can as well say they never should have bothered fighting in the first place. If the current political state of Nigeria is all they worked for; with Nigerian politicians being the highest paid in the world, while the masses die of hunger and the office of the citizen is not respected, if they knew their struggle for freedom would lead exactly to the situation they tried to run from, with protesters demanding better being imprisoned and tagged as thugs, they wouldn’t have bothered, and Nigeria would probably have been better off without being independent.
But, there’s more. There’s a generation who long ago were referred to as leaders of tomorrow, tomorrow is here, and they are here to lead. There’s a moral army rising up, an army that demands justice for the common man, an army that reveres the trader as much as they revere the President, an army that is becoming the voice of the voiceless and a defense to the defenseless.
The Nigerian youth will not remain redundant in the leadership of this country, we will not be referred to as potential leaders who never had the chance to lead. This is a generation that desires greatness and has chosen to get there by serving. Compatriots are arising to obey Nigeria’s call. Just a little ahead lies Nigeria’s freedom.
About the Author
Ruth Abi is a final year student of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She has a flair for writing and discovered she also has an eye for detail while serving as the Chief Editor for a group in school. This prompted her to start Ruthy’s Ink; an upcoming brand that offers editing and writing services to clients, while creating awareness of common grammatical errors made in English language and their correction.