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How to avoid generational irrelevance

June 3, 2009

I thoroughly enjoyed three recent back page columns. One thing strings them together: the idea that civil society needs to be more involved. A generation of Nigerians ie, in their 30s and 40s, think – with the end of military rule – constructive criticism in a democratic era is moot. Then again, we seem to be adopting an attitude: if it’s broke, don’t fix it, wait for another generation to sort it out.

Fine, heckling leaders (politicians, bureaucrats and corporate bosses etc) can be like hitting a stone wall. But maybe that’s because our criticism is more destructive than constructive. Or is it our intellectual lethargy; the depth and breadth of our criticisms fail to flail? Thank goodness for the likes below, their views resonate. Let a 1000 constructive critics bloom!

Q: And sir, how do you think your generation has performed?

A: My generation has been an utter failure. My generation are the very embezzlers and traitors to the national cause that we’re discussing… Onwuchekwa Jemie, Crime without punishment (3), BusinessDay, June 2nd 2009

Civil society especially professionals, under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Professionals, should within a week launch a site, say,, where we can all begin to debate life after Yar’Adua and offer solutions. That’s the opportunity in this crisis. Azubuike Ishiekwe, Life after Yar’Adua, The Punch June 2nd 2009

So the citizens of Nigeria will have to reclaim their sovereignty from those who have hijacked it. They will have to return to citizen activism. They will have to join political parties or civil society organisations. They must write letters to the editor, op-ed pieces or newspaper columns and insist that their voices be heard.

They must write letters to their legislators and follow up with more vigorous actions if no response is received. Nigerians will have to insist that elected and appointed office holders account to them for their performance in office. They must insist on recovering their lost sovereignty. Opeyemi Agbaje, Deepening our democracy, BusinessDay, June 3rd 2009

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