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“Education begins when you can ask why”
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“Education begins when you can ask why”

University students were reportedly among persons being harassed by a special police squad in Nigeria months ago.  While the reform of the squad has been announced,  Olawole Olakunle, 24, a Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, argues that university students chose silence over activism. He writes about the importance of speaking up on national and political issues.

A few months ago, I left the CivicHive in Lagos, a very troubled Nigerian youth after hearing numerous reports accusing the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of brutality and harassment of the citizens they swore to protect.

The allegations of harassment and the dehumanization of young people by this unit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF)  had by this time garnered national attention.clampdown on Nigerian students was reportedly taking place – not even on the streets anymore, but within the confines of their hostel rooms. One of those attacks is reported to have happened at Adekunle Ajasin University, in Akungba, Ondo State (AAUA). I had envisioned that the silence of the student community would eventually backfire – and it did. I believe the action of the police force was meant to instill fear into the young populace and create a docile community with a mentality that forbids asking questions for fear of the unknown.

The quality of our education is meant to eradicate fear when we face challenges. That means we should be able to approach the stakeholders in every aspect of our lives with courtesy – and without the fear of rejection or repression. The Police Force is an important stakeholder in our country. What then have we learned as Nigerian students in our respective colleges, if we could not have engaged such important stakeholders because of the “I no want wahala syndrome” (I don’t want to cause any trouble).

This syndrome has slowly eaten up our society beginning with the family, school, community, and spreading to our institutions. I believe even our government has been part of subconscious actions that have negatively impacted our ability to stand up to ask the questions that affect our lives when the need arises.

Education begins when you can ask why! It is my belief that the deafening silence of the student community has given credence to the many atrocities our nation has faced. The brightest minds in our society whose actions ought to channel the path for progress have been rendered docile. Not only does this docility suggest a bleak outlook for the labor force as a country, but also sends a subconscious message to the generation behind.

Alas,  with such a youthful but docile student population which ought to be the emerging voices for our generation but has opted for silence, are we doomed as a nation? Perhaps, our young people do not understand the importance of getting involved in the civic and political life of our country.

Maybe our young people are ignorant of its corresponding influence and how effective their involvement is in educating the coming generation.It’s indeed high time to put the shenanigans of, “I don’t want wahala” aside, and begin to concentrate on how we can effectively begin to influence our country with the education we have, thus creating the change we want. 

Times are indeed changing, and the approach to solving our present challenges ought to change too. Gone are the days of Thomas Sankara, and Fidel Castro’s armed revolution to change the destinies of their respective countries.  We are now in an era of taking democratic actions to provide revolutionary solutions. It’s the collective effort from different clusters in the society including student activism, that will make a difference.  

 

Photo credit: Kaizenify via wikimedia (license)
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About me: I am a writer and advocate for youth participation in politics. My passion for qualitative governance led me to join the Student Union Government, where I served as secretary of committee on ethics and privilege. I am also a volunteer and a member of the Young Active Network of VSO, Voluntary service overseas.

I am currently  the National Director of Student and Campus Micro-group for KOWA Party Nigeria, a political party with a youth in politics mandate.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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