I was discussing with a bosom friend of mine recently, we engaged each other in a very heated but concise analysis of the happenings in the Nigerian political sphere today. While we were juxtaposing the kind of youths of those days, with the present day youths, my friend made a statement that really struck me. "I think the youths of today are comfortable with their current predicaments" he said.
I was trying so hard to grasp what he meant by that. I was about asking him to explain when, he quickly cut in and said, "remember the Ali must Go movement that we were told about in school?, i knew that that was a rhetorical question. We both studied political science in the university, and during our days in the student union, we heard stories of the day Nigerian students changed the face of unionism for ever because of 50 kobo.
"Ali must Go" is a slogan used by Nigerian students back in 1978, who were protesting a 50 kobo increment on their meal ticket, by the then Minister of Education Ahmadu Ali. The students where protesting an increase from 1.50 naira to 2.0 naira. I know some of you my dear readers are already shocked by this, yes there was a time when federal owned institutions fed their students 3 times a day for a small token. The students were expected to pay just a small percentage, while the federal government will cover the remaining cost.
This increment did not go down well with the national union of Nigerian students, led by the dogged and fearless Segun Okeowo. Mind you, the purported increase in meal ticket price was not directly from the supreme military council, but rather it was the brainchild of the ministry of education back then.
This is where things really got interesting, the way and manner in which the Nigerian youths united to protest the purported increase in meal tickets has been hailed as the Renaissance of student unionism in Nigeria. Students from all across the country united under one banner and spoke with one voice, they were fearless, and determined to resist any attempts to exploit the youths.
My friend's argument was that, if youths back then in 1978 could unite even when the country was under military rule, what is stopping the present youths from uniting under this present democratic dispensation?.
The reality today is that youths are no longer interested in engaging in a meaningful association that will Champion their course, even in the midst of high unemployment. The youths have failed to realize that if they can be united under one voice, then they will be able to reshape the entire political and economic landscape of this dear Nation of ours. The students union we have today is filled with leaders who have allowed themselves to become tools in the hands of the political class.
The "Ali must Go" movement should be a mirror, and a reference point for students and youths of today. We are the leaders of tomorrow, but that tomorrow may never come if we continue to become social media youths, instead of architects of our own future.
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