Uche Kalu’s Video: A Belief in Igbo Optimism

Indeed, young people are demanding an even playing field on which they can play in the social world. Therefore, it becomes essential to afford everyone access to an equal or level sphere to participate and prosper in the economy of Nigeria.

Yesterday, I watched, in utter amazement, a video broadcast, which was posted on the modern media of a protest in Ohafia, Imo State of Nigeria. As the rally was taking place at the army or the police station, a young man, Uche Kalu, repeatedly voiced his name as he passionately narrated what was transpiring. I watched youths protesting and extolling their frustrations in the face of oppression, murder, and disillusionment. Although Nigeria, like virtually all other nations, is struggling with the COVID-19 virus, it appears that the soldiers or the police were arresting and jailing the youths. Kalu’s description of the incident leads me to, once again, believe in Igbo optimism. Despite the hardships and carceral developments, in the video, he expresses hope and optimism.

The fog of terror often meted out against these young people is alarming. At the same time, they are massively unemployed, even though most of them are college graduates, and that many others probably have acquired high school diplomas.

I feel it is necessary to emphasize that the problem the youths are experiencing is not only the jailing in their communities but also the mayhem that is regularly directed against them. The fog of terror often meted out against these young people is alarming. At the same time, they are massively unemployed, even though most of them are college graduates, and that many others probably have acquired high school diplomas. When you add the problem of economic deprivation to the constant harassment of detention that they experience, the pressure almost always leads to some counter-response, like peaceful protests, which, in many cases, are due to frustration or anomic social conditions.

Young people find themselves living in their respective regions, which are, generally, characterized by circuit surveillance of impunity. Yet, they are, routinely, chastised and banished from their lands.

One author recently wrote that youths facing massive unemployment had become an endangered species in their homelands. Correspondingly, such youths in Nigeria are treated as wasted commodities. Luckily, they are not violent even if these Igbo youths are the young people most affected in Nigeria as the descendants of subjugated parents, who suffer economic deprivation at higher rates than the members of any other ethnic group. In different areas of the Igboland, and as one tries to drive from one place to another, roadblocks are abundant. Young people find themselves living in their respective regions, which are, generally, characterized by circuit surveillance of impunity. Yet, they are, routinely, chastised and banished from their lands. Further, the difficulty in driving on bad roads and having to make frequent stops add to their frustration and sense of insecurity.

The vital question here is whether our young people in Igboland are component members of the social contract, or have they been treated as only disposable children, who are repressed and contained? Has Nigeria become a retributive state in which the young people in Igboland have become the primary targets? A critical review of Kalu’s video reveals a scenario in which occupied young people are protesting and liberating other youths caught in the net-widening web of hegemonic surveillance and suppression. The authorities must consider the consequences of monitoring young people in a democratic society. It is evident that to protect lives and properties from the menacing destruction of kidnappers and bloodthirsty thugs, members of society must be willing to surrender, if necessary, some elements of liberty. However, such sacrifices must not be limited to one region of peaceful people; instead, a holistic public response predicated on the cooperation of the masses, is paramount in this pursuit.

This dream, and the opportunity to live well and to peacefully coexist, must be made available to everyone. Indeed, young people are demanding an even playing field on which they can play in the social world. Therefore, it becomes essential to afford everyone access to an equal or level sphere to participate and prosper in the economy of Nigeria.

Perhaps what should ensue is the acceptance of all Nigerians as citizens of the Nigerian polity. In the video, the young people are demonstrating, categorically, that enough is enough. They cherish their freedom. They assert that they will no longer tolerate the rapes of their sisters and mothers and family people by the welding fingers of AK 47 “wannabe” “Soldiers of God.” For Nigeria to become one nation, as we all wish it to be, all Nigerians must strive to become part of the social contract. Every Nigerian, including Igbo youths, must share equally in the Nigerian dream. This dream, and the opportunity to live well and to peacefully coexist, must be made available to everyone. Indeed, young people are demanding an even playing field on which they can play in the social world. Therefore, it becomes essential to afford everyone access to an equal or level sphere to participate and prosper in the economy of Nigeria.

The government, on the other hand, could seek partnership with business leaders by supportive subsidies for development and youth empowerment. Youths from different parts of the country must be shielded from the discriminatory practices associated with, or which have arisen as a consequence of, the so-called Queen’s English Language.

I posit that, alone, the government cannot solve all of these problems. Private entrepreneurs could equally pursue capitalist endeavors that are designed to grow the Nigerian economy and could include, for example, the development of more professional soccer, tennis, and basketball teams, and create many other professional and commercial entities that could employ young people and provide them with opportunities to compete with pay. The government, on the other hand, could seek partnership with business leaders by supportive subsidies for development and youth empowerment. Youths from different parts of the country must be shielded from the discriminatory practices associated with, or which have arisen as a consequence of, the so-called Queen’s English Language. After all, Boko Haram insists that “western education is evil.” All young people must have equal opportunities to join the various security agencies in Nigeria that includes the Army, Police, Corrections, Customs and Immigration, and other Justice Systems, and the numerous other affiliated organizations. Nigeria will enjoy peace if it ceases its selective punishment proclivities against its oppressed populace. The Igbo youths are optimists, and they will eventually survive and grow.

■ Dr. Onwudiwe, a Professor of Criminology at the Texas Southern University is a columnist with the WAP