‘Make a move, ring the bell”; “Youth should take ownership of the corruption crusade” “Don’t mind your business”. A tiny sample of the hundreds of tweets, Facebook posts and comments prompted by an RNW-facilitated debate on corruption at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.
The event was organised in close collaboration with the Department of Communication and Language Arts. A call went out on the RNW Africa site and Facebook page asking visitors what they wanted to debate. There were around 300 responses, most of them from young Nigerians, and corruption was the theme that kept cropping up. It was agreed that the debate should strive for a constructive, forward-looking tone – and so the question Ending corruption: what can Naija youths do? was formulated.
A different debate
Young people in Africa, although they make up more than half the population, often complain that they are not heard. [media:image5] Traditionally in Nigeria and elsewhere, a “debate” will feature two older speakers, standing on a podium and addressing an audience for 45 minutes or more, with perhaps 3 or 4 questions from the audience at the end if there's any time left. RNW and Dr Ayo Ojebode, acting Head of the Department, were determined that this event would be different – that it would be truly a chance for young people to speak and share their views. There was an invited audience representing all the faculties and people were also invited to participate via Twitter at #EC4NY.
Local blogger Nwachukwu Egbunike agreed to cover the event and, as the following extract from his post makes clear, this determination to break the Nigeria-debate mould was successful:
“This was the scenario: about 60 young people – the gender spread, by the way, was balanced – seated in an interactive fashion. There were no high tables (the vanity that has been personified into a national lure). The seating arrangement had local validity (face-me-I-face-you). The two key discussants kept to the allotted ten minutes (non-Nigerians may be at pains to appreciate this little detail).
And wonders of wonders, the comments were not the typical blame-shifting and name-calling associated with a discourse of this nature. Rather these young fellows, from diverse disciplines, faith-based and social organizations, made personal introspections about corruption in Nigeria and what each person – individually – can do to end corruption in Nigeria.”
Click here to read the full post.
Debate goes on
It was, concluded Egbunike, “balanced calm analysis by youths”. Participants’ reactions to the event were also overwhelmingly positive, with many asking for follow up debates and further action. Local media also reported favourably on the debate. Closing the day, Dr Ojebode promised that “this is just the beginning”, and as the discussion continues on social media, RNW’s Africa desk will also be looking at how it can build on the enthusiasm and interest generated by the debate.
Below is a selection of comments generated online and offline by the debate:
Tim Melaya, discussant from GIABA: “Is Nigeria corrupt? Why? No need to emphasize the obvious. Corruption is endemic, etc. How about you? Are you corrupt? The issue bothers more on attitude... The policemen that collect bribes, the lecturer that collects money to pass students is corrupt, the student that cheats in exams is also corrupt. Look not at the great effects, look rather at the origin.”
Mrs. Adeoye, discussant from ICPC: “Youths should take ownership of the corruption crusade.”
Adeola Boluwatife, participant: “…Live a good life or have a clear conscience; you must choose one. An average youth wants a good life...”
Enamudu Victor via @enamuduvictor: “Am I corrupt? The moment you can’t answer that question wholeheartedly, you can’t point fingers. Wash your hands first.”
Idowu Temitope, participant: “[Corruption] starts from law enforcement agencies.”
Joy, student participant: “We mind our business too much in this country. Report offenders, make a move. Ring the bell!”
Wole Oladapo via @lexydek: “Youths say they can't fight corruption because they are hungry; not fighting corruption will not relieve the hunger anyway. #EC4NY”
Michael Tunbosun, moderator: “In less than 3 generations, 41% of the world’s youth will be in Africa.”
Scarlett via @FolabomiOdunsi: “#EC4NY …if you want to stop corruption, DON'T MIND YOUR BUSINESS!”
#Segun&theGang via @SegunOdejimi: “…Be the change you want. Michael Jackson sang: Start with the man in the mirror. #EC4NY”