The fact that the Nigerian youth need to take responsibility as a prerequisite for faster development of the country cannot be over-emphasised. It remains one of the propelling latitudes to invigorate the country’s development in all ramifications. It has become imperative for the Nigerian youth to wake up from their slumber and take adequate responsibilities since they have been sidelined in the decision making and policy formulation process over the years by the elder citizens – most of them above 70 years – who constitute the government.
In 1992, at the age of 30, Liyel Imoke became the youngest senator ever in the history of Nigeria. Being a youth, his political credentials were substantiated, and he was thus thrust into national prominence. No doubt that Imoke is an icon in the history of Nigeria. Ironically, the youngest senator currently is Abatemi-Usman, who represents Kogi Central. He is about 41.
So, it is pertinent to ask at this point: what is happening to Nigerian youth who are identified as the leaders of tomorrow? Must the youth grow grey hair before they can pioneer the affairs of the country?
Recently, Tony Anenih emerged as the new chairman of the Board of Trustees of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), while Bamanga Tukur took up the chairmanship role of the dominant political party in the country. These are aged men who may have lost the agility and energy to carry out certain functions, albeit they are educated and experienced. Positions like that should be under the jurisdiction of able-bodied young men and women who have potentials and the momentum to affect the country positively.
More worrisome, the unprecedented passion of the youth is being hijacked mostly by the aged individuals who are the country’s decision makers. In one of the local communities situated in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia State, the efforts of the youth to bring forth transformation and economic development in their community had proved futile. The elders of the community became repugnant and recalcitrant as they employed all fetish manipulations to bring to a standstill the effort of the youth. As if that was not enough, they took the matter to court, stressing the young and inexperienced had come to take over what originally belonged to the elder.
Most of the factors negatively affecting the effort of the youth to really act as future leaders as anticipated include unemployment, threats from aged political leaders, corruption, monetary intimidation from prominent bourgeoisie and youth organisations, among others.
In Nigeria today, the youth constitute about 80 million of the population and a greater percentage of the unemployed labour force. More worrisome is that their population grows exponentially every year.
As part of the solution to this ugly trend, it will be pertinent for the government in conjunction with the National Directorate of Employment to make provision for schemes that will create an avenue for these youths to be employed; it is an obligatory task every responsible government should work relentlessly on. The desire to pioneer the affairs of the country burns inside the heart of the youth, but alas, they lack the financial momentum as a result of unemployment.
Furthermore, the incumbent political leaders who are mostly aged should aim at motivating the youth, not using their ill-gotten affluence to intimidate the youth who are striving to foster development and transformation. When a youth has the intention of contesting a political position, the aged ones become jealous and do all within their arsenal to decimate the zeal. Some of the political leaders are fast money-making machines that believe that money is the sine qua non to achieving all things in life, including power to manipulate others.
More importantly, the excesses of the various heads of establishments should be checkmated. Bribery, nepotism and favouritism have hampered the development of the nation. Anybody whom the crown fits should always wear it. If a youth is qualified to become a representative of a particular region, the stakeholders should not hesitate to follow suit. Money should never be a decisive factor to achieving any political position. It will definitely go a long way to motivate these youths, because the youth always have the perception that if they are not financially buoyant, then their dream will die off.
It is also believed that the youth are the foundations and pillars of the society. Their potentials, energies, inventiveness, and ideas define pace for national development and security for the country. There is this innate enthusiasm and zeal in the youth to serve the nation, and through their creative talents and labour, a nation makes enormous strides in socio-economic development. In their dreams and hopes, a nation finds its motivation, vitality, and purpose.
Bolaji Albudullahi, minister of youth development, is vested with this responsibility and should map out strategies that will be aimed at making the youth become more responsible; their voices should be made audible to the government. All youth organisations from various regions should pursue similar objectives. They will move mountains if they are very objective and work towards achieving it.
Justice Okamgba is a second year student from Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Imo State. He is on industrial trainning with Businessday
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