Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Youths are not smiling.

And the president said, let there be food, and there was. And he saw that the food was good, so he made it better by adding money.

Social media has been agog with news of the Lunch with the president. Was it right? Was it not right? Gloria Edozien, who attended the lunch but left before money was shared has an interesting piece on Bella Naija. Most of the comments do not condemn the lunch in itself, but the distribution of money to youths. The money is rumoured to have ranged from 50,000 to 150,000. Some group leaders may have received up to 500,000, it is said. A commenter asked why it was clouded in silence? I wonder too. Most of the invited youths blog and tweet every few minutes but apart from Tolu Ogunlesi who was several miles away, I did not see it mentioned until after the lunch. It sounds awfully suspicious, like they knew there would be more than just lunch. But twitter or no twitter, we still heard.

It is said that you cannot claim to be a thief until you have been in a position to steal and you didn’t steal. So since I was not at the lunch, was not offered any bribe, sorry, transport money. I will not point accusing fingers at anybody. I am however concerned that it is these same people who chewed D’banj and spat him out for accepting to interview the president. They said he was paid to do so, said he was not a true representative of the Nigerian youths. And I asked, who is the better representative? The bloggers, the twitterers, the ones who sit in the comfort of their homes and claim to be youth activists? While I am not undermining the impact of social media or anybody’s effort at change, it bothers me when these people feel superior to others. When they think that university degrees place them higher than the youth on the street. In my opinion D’banj is the better representative; he is hustler and has achieved much success in spite of.

I am extremely concerned about how our president is doling out money. There have been several gatherings of such in recent times and each time money was shared. 500 people were invited for the lunch, let’s say 400 got the minimum amount shared, that would be 400x50,000=NGN20,000,000. Imagine what this would do in equipping one General Hospital in the country? Could the youths not have said no, we don’t want money, use the money to buy ultrasound machines for hospitals etc and used their activism experience to ensure this is done? But in true Nigerian style, we collected the money, thereby justifying Government’s spending, tomorrow we ask that they be probed.

These youths may have smiled home with money in their pockets but there are several youths on the streets, homeless ,jobless, powerless and these youths are not smiling.

To be a youth activist, you must first be an altruist. Are there any still standing?