• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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The Nigerian youth: Caught between apathy and ambition

The Nigerian youth: Caught between apathy and ambition

Nigeria is a country with a lot going on, and young people face many challenges. From big cities to small villages, they deal with social and economic problems. Every day can be overwhelming, and it’s hard for young people to know what to do with their lives. There are two main paths they can take: give up hope or try hard to succeed. Every decision a young person makes affects not just them, but the whole country, for many years to come.

The main issue is the significant gap between the effort invested and the rewards reaped. Unlike in many other parts of the world where hard work is praised and duly rewarded, Nigeria often devalues the sweat and toil of its citizens. Take, for instance, a recent national essay competition targeting university undergraduates. While the initiative is commendable for its aim to cultivate intellectual growth, the prizes on offer—a laptop here, a smartphone there—seem scarcely proportional to the intellectual exertion demanded. This discrepancy not only undermines the value of diligence and dedication but also perpetuates a cycle where the incentive for hard work is diminished, leading to a disheartening disconnect between effort and reward.

This opinion article is a microcosm of a larger problem: Nigerian society undervalues mental labour. Scholars face tough demands – long hours of research, carefully building arguments – all requiring significant time and effort. However, the rewards for these contributions often fall short. This creates a culture that glorifies shortcuts to wealth, overshadowing the value of hard work. This undervaluing not only hurts the importance of intellectual pursuits but also discourages people from seeking knowledge and innovation.

An economist named John Stacey Adams has a theory that helps explain this problem. He says people naturally want to feel like they’re getting what they deserve for their work. But in Nigeria, it seems really hard to achieve this balance. Look at teachers, doctors, and government workers. They put in a lot of effort to help the country, but they often don’t get paid much or get recognized for their hard work. This is unfair and discourages people from working hard and being creative in all areas of Nigerian society.

This lack of reward has serious consequences. Faced with low pay and no recognition, many graduates abandon their fields for quicker money-making jobs. This trend, with talented people leaving professions like teaching for fashion design, shows a major flaw in how Nigeria rewards work. It’s not just unfair, it’s a huge loss for the country. Nigeria loses valuable skills and expertise when it doesn’t value its workforce.

But all is not lost. The recognition of this imbalance is the first step towards positive change. By realigning our societal values to prioritise the fruits of intellectual labour, Nigeria can pave the way for a future where ambition triumphs over apathy. This could involve a multi-pronged approach, including increasing wages for educators, doctors, and other skilled professionals.

Additionally, celebrating academic achievement and innovation through scholarships, awards, and public recognition can create a cultural shift that values knowledge and hard work. Let us heed the lessons of nations that have successfully nurtured human capital and upheld cherished ideals of rewarding dedication.

For in the hands of the Nigerian youth lies the power to shape a brighter tomorrow. Empowering them through quality education, mentorship opportunities, and fair reward systems will unlock their full potential and ensure that ambition knows no bounds in building a better Nigeria.