The Platform was conceptualized by Pastor Poju Oyemade to be the hub for intellectual discourse among the news and policy makers to tackle knotty national challenges plaguing the nation.
Year after year, it offers robust interventions and each edition is usually a delight to watch by journalists as well as citizens both high and low.
The May 1 edition for this year featured the Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi as one of the speakers with the theme: Is Devolution of powers the solution to Nigeria’s problems?
In his speech, Fayemi stirred the hornets’ nest by making a subtle attack on a core aspiration by the majority of the current crop of Nigerian youths when he said: “Don’t succumb to despondency, there is a lot to hail in this country. There is a lot to frustrate you, a lot to want to make you give up and pick that visa and go to Canada,” the governor told the youths.
“I know it (Canada) is a popular destination but you know what? There is also a glass ceiling in Canada. When you get to the top of it, you will now discover there is a glass ceiling there. This is the place where there is no glass ceiling, let us work towards making it a better place.”
Fayemi minced no words in urging the Nigerian youths to stay back home and contribute their ‘quota’ to nation building in a country that has no plans for them and doesn’t care about their existence.
Nigerian-British writer and literary critic, Adewale Maja-Pearce coined a word known as ‘Safety First Radical’ in one of his essays in ‘Remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and other essays’ to describe a radical who was insincere to the cause that he or she claims to fight for. He cited the examples of Che Guavara who left the comfort of a lucrative medical practice in Argentina to join his Comrade in arms, Fidel Castro to wage wars against the then government of Fulgencio Batista and after defeating him spread Communist ideals to the rest of the world. He paid the Supreme Price at the end of the day. Contrast this with the British-Pakistani writer Tariq Ali who turned his back on the plea y University students in his native Pakistan to return home to help dislodge the tyrannical regime of General Ayub Khan. Ali was even too afraid to leave Britain to attend a conference in France because at the time he had five more months left to be confirmed as a British citizen and was scared of not being allowed back into Britain in the heady days of 1968.
Fayemi as a 24 year old left the shores of Nigeria for the United Kingdom on economic exile. Before his sojourn to the land of the erstwhile Colonial Masters, he had worked as a journalist with City Tempo owned by the veteran journalist, Sonala Olumhense and was owed salaries for months despite the paper’s editorial success as it was a gargantuan commercial failure. So disillusioned was he that he swore never to practice journalism again. He became a British Citizen by marriage to his wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi who was a citizen by birth. He achieved success in the UK as that was where he bagged his doctorate in War Studies from Kings College London and was part of the pro democracy struggle which saw him tour the world for the revalidation of the mandate of the Late Chief M.K.O Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 Presidential Elections. He bought a home there in testament to some level of economic success.
The irony was that Nigeria wasn’t this bad. There was no Boko Haram or large scale banditry at the time and the unemployment wasn’t this bad. One could even get a job in a multinational or the government and in some organizations with just a Secondary School Leaving Certificate.
He expects the modern day youths in the midst of the rising unemployment – over 33% youth unemployment to Insurgents attacks by Boko Haram, Bandits attacks and the general climate of doom and gloom accentuated by bad governance and corrupt leadership to stay back home in the name of patriotism? Why the double standards? Why didn’t he stay back home in 1989? Why did he check out like Andrew? Has he renounced his British Citizenship in the name of patriotism? The hypocrisy of our ruinous political elite stinks to the High Heavens!
All through the ages, man has always migrated in search of greener pasture. Even the Israelites who to go Biblical were the Chosen race by God were perpetual migrants and the Jews today are scattered in their millions all over the world. Chelsea Clinton did her post graduate education in International Relations at Oxford. Was she less patriotic for not doing it in the US? Bill Gates cited his University scholarship scheme in the University of Cambridge. Was he less of an American by doing so? Many American entrepreneurs now establish some critical components of their businesses in India and China to take advantage of cheaper labour costs; are they now Apostles of treason? There is no platform for Nigerian footballers to reach the acme of their careers in the local league. Is it wisdom for them to remain at home in the name of fighting for a better Nigeria? What about health care professionals who are nearly always on strike? Will nationalism pay the bills and feed their families? In the US alone, four Nigerians have been appointed to sensitive positions by the Joe Biden led administration. Would they have stood a chance back home in the midst of federal character and the mediocre quota system? The entire nation is agitating for Dr. Isa Pantami to be removed from office. Would a Pantami have stayed put in power if he were in a sane country?
The system has failed Nigerians and many wealthy Nigerians are relocating for their sanity and peace of mind. There is nothing wrong with Nigerian youths relocating for a brighter future in a country that has constantly failed them. It was the same Fayemi who sponsored six bright young Nigerians for their post graduate education abroad while he was out of office after he lost to Ayo Fayose. Why didn’t he tell them to go to the University of Lagos or Ibadan? The way politicians play to the gallery is really nauseating all in a bid to score asinine political points.
What youth friendly policies has Fayemi put in place in Ekiti that would attract Nigerian youths to be domiciled in the so called ‘Fountain of Knowledge?’ What were his youth oriented policies as the Minister of Solid Minerals?
Enough of this assault on our collective intelligence!
Tony Ademiluyi is the Co Founder of The Vent Republic Media – www.theventrepublic.com and wrote from Lagos.