By Ugochukwu Oputa
On October 1st 1960, Nigeria became the Biggest Free Black Nation in the world. The Country’s prospect was so great that on the 5th of December on same year, Sir. Abubakar Tafawa Belewa the then Prime Minister of the New Nation was the cover page of Times Magazine.
As a Nigerian that was born about 3 decades after independence, I only got to read about some of the remarkable incidents that had took place in this “promising black Nation”.
Just like me, the Nigerian Millennials never got to experience first hand the First Nigerian Election, The Second, The First Coup, The Military takeover, The Civil War etc.
We heard stories of when the Naira was equal to one dollar, when Education was free and undergraduates had meal tickets. When travelling to London from Lagos was as easy as from Anambra to Enugu, and when we Malaysia came to our country to take palm nuts.
We heard about the gory tales of the civil war, but also we heard about how an Igbo man ran for elections in the West and how an Hausa man was an administrator down South.
We heard about how the Youths were the leaders of their time, the Young Bright Minds.
We heard of how the best of minds had the best jobs, and how the greatest names then were mostly those with the finest education. Then one sure way to success was academic brilliance.
Just like me, many Millennials were shocked to hear how polished the English & diction of Sir. Tafawa Belewa sounded when we saw video clips of him. For if it was left to his looks, we wouldn’t have guessed right.
Yes, some of us met the reign of General Babangida & Sani Abacha however, just like me, a lot of us where not fully “aware”. Most of us met great moments such as Atlanta ’96, when our football team won the Olympics, or the time the Nation celebrated the death of a dictator and our transition to democracy in 1999.
As Millennials, judging from the stories we hear of the past from the awkward but most times fun “in our days” discussions with our parents and older citizens, it begin to seem to us like we are the Unfortunate Generation of this country.
Almost everything we complained of now, seemed like it was better before. Even Power/Electricity.
We are the Nigeria’s generation that has watched our Naira crumble to the dollar numerous times, watched fuel price skyrocket before our eyes, even before we get to raise enough money to buy cars.
The Nigerian Millennials are the worst hit in the New Nigerian reality; a 27 year old Nigerian is still trying to “find his feet” but Gowon was already head of state at 32.
Back then, 30 was the prime age, but right now, a 30 years old Nigerian is____ your guess is as good as mine.
Looking at all these, can we say we have ourselves to blame or is it right to say the system failed us?
Are we performing all bad?
Well, we as Millennials have had our great times too and one we are proud of is our creative industry.
Although things might not be looking too good but we’ve excelled in areas of Entrepreneurship & Entertainment.
We meet the Good time of Tu Face who rocked the world with “African Queen”; we Produced the Wizkids & Davidos and the Burna Boys who placed our musics on the world map. Nigeria failed us and so we created “NAIJA”, the pride of the Nigerian Millennial.
Nollywood became a testimony, yet another thing to be proud of.
Yes it seemed like we were the Unfortunate Generation, but we came out with a bang and created fun for ourselves.
We created businesses, startups, music genres, culture & lifestyle. We sold our brand to the world.
We are living in one of Nigeria’s toughest times. However, it is accurate to say we are Nigeria’s toughest generation and vocal ones at that. The social media gave us a voice and we’ve reversed governments decisions through trends on social media.
Today, Nigeria hits 59, and I’m not sure if I should celebrate her or mourn her, but being true to the Millennial that I am, and in our almost carefree nature, I cannot not come and kill me self. We must find fun & be happy.
So, today, I pray that the biggest black nation in the world get to live up to its potential. The Prospects are there and it’s up to us to achieve.
Happy Independence Nigeria.
God Bless Naija! ✌?
Ugochukwu Oputa writes from Port Harcourt.