Nigeria’s generations: Past, present and future

Nigeria has undergone several diminishing labellings such as a rich but poor country, squalor in the midst of affluence, a country that is not worth dying for, Africa’s failed asset, state without nation and what have you.

These negative, yet authentic and reliable indicators, are the darkness of our fatal disappointment and major failure to make the country great and improve our bad living conditions despite its tremendous human and natural resources. They are bad descriptors for our development flaws and how our generations have been shaped all these years.  

We have traversed the vast terrains of history, politics, economy, national integration and other odysseys which have continued to be reflective of the essence of our existence in addition to being entangled in mixed  predicaments. But it seems we always refer to the past as better than today. And if tomorrow comes, we will glorify today like a deity. It is suggestive that we have lost faith in attaining a better Nigeria or we have unanimously carved out a niche for an impending doom to occupy our psychology.

We are relentlessly descending from the point of development to the point of underdevelopment as entrenched in our public mood, global status and what is pragmatically on the ground at home. Who carries the blame? The discerning mind accuses all of us as being indicted. From leadership to followership, from Southern Nigeria to Northern Nigeria, from the extreme end of Port Harcourt to another extreme end of Kano, Akure to Benin, Umuahia to Makurdi,  we are all guilty.

The greatest question is, how are we going to halt, if not revert this perpetual deterioration? Think about our generational evolution and how it affects our collective existence with a view to ascertaining our prosperity or otherwise. Generations come and go .Some are self-destructive while others are self-constructive. Some are a blessing whereas others are a curse. Some are wasted like mountain of refuse, others are as useful as a training tool. But the greatest generation is the one with enduring legacies. It lives forever in the minds. The worst generation is the one that neither inspires nor prospers.

Both successful and unsuccessful generations derive their status when they rightly or wrongly align with all the key issues  vis-a-vis the prevailing socioeconomic and political, and cultural manifestations. Their viability or the contrast rests on well defined and articulated core values, focus and functions, which are partially or holistically adapted to the emerging trend. While some generations are founded on weaknesses of the past without national vision and consciousness, others are transformative, compelling and struggling to evolve a paradigm shift from complex to simple, from general to particular. 

Generational evaluation has to do with a conflict of ‘what’ and ‘who’ idiosyncratic elements. ‘What’ is all encompassing while ‘who’ is a narrowed projection. The generation that aspires to preserve future generations is influenced by the ‘what’ variable. The generation of the ‘who’  is an endangered entity. The ‘what’of a generation is capable of overwhelming its  circumstances, while the ‘who’ of a generation is overwhelmed by the circumstances.

The late Balarabe Musa captured our predicament when he was unjustly impeached as the governor of Kaduna state, “We are today living in terms of great changes, the old order is crumbling fast, new systems of life and activities are emerging….”  What are some of these changes? Is the average politician not more concerned with consolidating power than rendering services? Is the average business tycoon not accumulating wealth without according it moral values? Is our average bureaucrat not enmeshed in self- esteemed worship? Can the average imam or pastor exonerate himself from creating human ‘gods’ rather than submitting to the omnipotent God? Is the average Nigerian not rendered helpless, made to collapse without intervening  forces?

Every generation has its own history. This is an orchestrated chemistry and symbiotic relationship. History, generation and the people form a family. One cannot exist without the other. They are a filled space of striving for the evolution of nations and individuals, of national values and systems, of constructive practices and processes. Frantz Fanon teaches us that every generation must have a mission to fulfill or betray. Thus, generation is all about changes and challenges and how we are prepared to address them.

The first generation of post independence Nigeria was very formidable. Its leading protagonists ensured that it revolved on personal integrity, intellectual discipline and proportional love for the country. It was this excessive passion for Nigeria that prompted the late Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to express his fears of seeing a country that would be like a hell for the majority and a heaven for a few.

The first generation of post independence Nigeria did all it could to realise its full potential that would be premised on accountable leadership which would be a milestone for development. That generation wanted to invent a new Nigeria of durability and reliability. The same generation had all its expression in public character and integrity. The heroes of that generation fought all the external obstacles and the obstacles within themselves in order to achieve a state of perfection. 

Since it was the first generation of post independence Nigeria, it had  the strength and confidence to break away from the remnants of colonial establishment, face the consequences and re-write history. But eventually, it never achieved a meaningful end as it was destroyed by the barrel of the gun. That unfortunate event ushered in the genesis of Nigeria’s lingering religious, ethnic, political, economic crises which have continued to hold the country to ransom.

One of the greatest threats to the next generation is the prevailing social media abuse. It is a boosting industry that is laying a chaotic house for the next generation. Its overwhelming potency is a dangerous signal because many users promote hate speech and other related anti social vices. It is a surest way to national disintegration and dislocation. Our social media has lost social value and viability. It is practically an anti social media dominated by generational decadence. It is a virus against unity, humility, empathy, reasoned thoughts, valued judgment, moral cohesion, etc.

Transferring the cumulative mess of this generation to the next will not be cumbersome. However, what will be difficult for the next generation is to liberate itself from the failures of the current generation.

Abdullahi writes from 


Jigawa state via 

[email protected]


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