HOW WE YOUTHS CAN RESTORE NIGERIA
To get a good grasp of this topic, it is instructive to have a working definition of what the concept youth means and who is actually a youth.
Youth, according to Wikipedia, is the time of life when one is young, but often means the time between childhood and adulthood (maturity). It is also defined as “the appearance, freshness, vigor, spirit, etc., characteristic of one who is young”.
However, United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, “Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age-group. But, according to the definition given in the African Youth Charter “youth” means “every person between the ages of 15 and 40 years”.
PROBLEMS OF YOUTH IN NIGERIA
Since we know who a youth is, it would amount to putting the cart before the horse if we delve into how youths can restore without understanding the circumstances that an average Nigerian youth has to grapple with.
For the records again, about 25 per cent of Nigerian youths are unemployed either as skilled or unskilled workers. Also recall that youths make up to about 65 per cent of the Nigerian population.
Put differently, these numbers mean that insecurity in the country will be very high. It also means that crime rate will be very high. Are you surprised that we have insurgents to contend with in the North east, dare devil armed robbers and militants in the West and kidnappers in both the West and South East. How about the south south? Each region of the country is facing one issue or the other arising from youth employment. Also recall that FG is yet to contend with the militancy and oil bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
I will not belabour this honourable house with explaining other problems confronting today’s youth but lest we forget, peer group pressure influence, poverty, drug abuse, inadequate of lack of good home training and the of course the get quick rich syndrome that has permeated the nooks and crannies of our nation.
HOW WE CAN RESTORE NIGERIA
There are a thousand and one ways that the Nigerian youth can help restore Nigeria’s lost glory. For a clearer comprehension of the subject under discourse, the role of the youths will be discussed in sectors.
Suffice it to say that ignorance is the biggest sin committed by the many 21st century Nigerian youths.
EDUCATION: Whether in the hinterlands of Arochukwu, or in the metropolitan Aba, the role of a youth first is to understand that the future of a nation, his nation depends solely on him or her. If he is well motivated that the sky is his starting point. He will not just excel but he will stand among kings and queens. In so doing, he understands that he does not need to cut corners to achieve anything. He understands that examination malpractice has no place in his inner being. He will work hard to achieve good grades, even though he has no sandals or engaged in hawking plantains or anything before or after school hours. Failure is not part of him. The attitude of parents wanting to do everything for their wards including paying for malpractice and writing examinations ought to stop. The role of a youth is to be confident enough to tell his father and or his or her mother that they should trust him enough to do things for himself. If he or she fails, he should also be strong enough to take responsibility and see it as another opportunity to right the wrongs.
POLITICS: The 21st century youth ought to be even more political aware and participate in political events. Gone are the days when youths are handed 1000 naira to vote for a particular godfather or candidate. No. Todays youth have to do better. Join a political party., Attend political awareness meetings. Be attentive. Ask questions where necessary. Monitor proceedings. Support a candidate based on your convictions not based on financial interests. Track budgets. Monitor projects and report your findings. Build a formidable structure at the local level. At the grass root level monitor the progress of your leaders. What are they doing? praise them when right and Criticise them constructively for the ones they are not doing right, and OFFER SOLUTIONS. Nigeria will not get better with people castigating government. Offer development solutions. Speak out for quality. Speak out for justice. Speak out for fairness. Hold government and government officials accountable. Ensure they are transparent in their dealings with people, for we must rise against corruption in all ramifications. In fighting for these causes the Nigerian youth will move farther in restoring not only the dignity of governance but the respect the country deserves also.
BUSINESS/ AND COMMERCE: On the flipside, it beats my imagination how a very large chunk of the youth population is unemployed yet Nigeria is blessed with large land mass uncultivated. Agriculture is the easiest means of getting quick and legitimate money for any youth. It gives the Nigerian youth an opportunity to have two or three sources of income. Youths must be patient to learn a trade or get busy by tilling the land. The returns on investments are plenty. It will reduce crime. It will also empower youths. The multiplier effect is even much more because it will open up more opportunities for others in t he production chain. An idle mind, the Holy Bible says in Proverbs, is the devil’s work tool. Being gainfully employed will help restore Nigeria to her glorious days as youths will have to stand on their rights rather than expect peanuts from politicians who have corruptly enriched themselves.
RELIGION AND ETHNICISM: In a multi religious nation such as ours, the Nigerian youth has only one thing to do in this line – to be more tolerant and understanding. Most ethno/religious crisis and bloodletting that has taken place in the country could be avoided if we are more understanding and tolerating. Do not forget that the number of youths that participate in these crises far outnumber the number of pot bellied men and old men. If we treat each other with respect and understanding, separate religion from politics, the country’s development will come at a very fast pace.
Conclusively, it will be in the interest of the youths to work towards ensuring a better unified well Structured Nigeria as it will benefit all and generations to come. The present generation has little or nothing to gain from a Nigeria of today, owing to the way the system is structured. We have misleaders who have also travelled to countries where things work and they have seen these things work, yet they won’t let things work here because they benefit from the rots they bring. It is up to you and I to say no to these people and ensure things work for us. Let me use this opportunity to comment on our brothers from some of the northern states who have stoned their elected representatives for one thing or the other. But it does not end there. You can start and pursue his recall from either the senate or the House of Representatives. Only then will they sit up. And we too on our part must lead by the examples we desire, to make our living an inspiring one.
Engr. Emma Uchechi Adimoha
(State Rep, YLAN Abia State Chapter)