Political Process Urban Youth Development In the Niger Delta

by Carl Collins Ogunshola Oshodi

In my earlier paper presented on the lunching of the Edo State’s Directorate of Youth Affairs and Social mobilization; part of the paper quotes as follows:

The problem of youth restiveness is a mirage until recently when a coalition of civil liberty Organization, NGOs, Government and other international agencies expressed largesse concern over Youth Global development as they collectively and genuinely seek to address the ills and disproportionate spur of Youth affairs in government and their apartheid in Nation Building; such as in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country, with regard to Militancy, sectarian and religious violence, Illiteracy, unemployment, disempowerment etc.

Generally speaking, several militants and youth leaders might not hold the ace on how the solution to the economic, socio-political and environmental problems of the Niger Delta region and its timid youth. However if the region’s leaders and representative of various organization are truly sincere in the ongoing peace process, their actions are capable of creating a vacuum in the economic mainstream and survival of our federal hegemony – Nigeria. In order to facilitate steady and speedy youth capital and human development; there is need to address the following:

a. Provision of sufficient mechanism and infrastructure to boost youth capital initiative and sustainable development.
b. Initiate programme for youth interactive sessions and intellectual model in the discussion of issues such as youth restiveness, the society and economic development of youths in nation building, an agenda that reflects on the youth.
c. Discussing and articulating programs to quell corruption, political irresponsibility among political representative, and inefficiency within government systems and weak social safety.
d. Solution to uplifting the meager status of the youths in issues such as hunger, illiteracy, unemployment and economic disempowerment should be resolved, and programs should be set up at various quarters to attend to these problems.

With the above paradigm, different strategic indicators should be put in place to assume its full mandates of youth capital development by ending restiveness, militancy, violence and all forms of crisis in the Niger Delta region, both internally motivated, nationally alleged, or some sort of ‘International Oil Conspiracy’. Although it is also pertinent to remark that at the root cause and effect of youth conflict in the Niger delta and elsewhere in Nigeria is due to the high incidence of state failures over time to address certain economic, political and sociological issues affecting and reflecting albeit Youth Development. National leaders instead of focusing more on the federal process that brings about equitable development across the nation. The National Leaders are over indulging in par aphelia Federal structure which is suppresses the concept of peace building, and reneging Youth development in Nation Building. The inability of the Niger Delta states to meet its primary social obligation notably youth and other socio-economic development provision and maintenance of internal order as well as its unconcealed order for misrule, epitomize a total failure of national leadership process and structure within and without.

Take the state of corruption in society for instance; there is hardly anyone who is not affected by it. The menace of corruption is very much detrimental to our national character and is more over the root cause of many social and moral problems, evident in the Niger Delta crisis and youth restiveness in the region. While the Federal and State government is aware of this trend, and therefore making frantic efforts to savage the situation, stakeholders in the region should also assist the government in their own capacity in the overall Youth in Nation Building affairs, through the Rebrand Nigeria Project. Youths could have been prepared and exhorted to rise against negative antecedent of economic degeneration we now find ourselves, but we have never tried to do so. Consequently, the new generation is also bogged down with the irresponsibility of our predecessors political leaders, who lacked the where withal to think and construct development policies for their governed – Youths.

Even though the youths of Niger Delta is wholly or partly marginalized and displaced, the historical pivotal causes of youth restiveness, which comprises of 96% youth force in Niger Delta region is nonetheless caused by the antecedent of greed, political ambition and individualized cause. This of course is an emphasis on the disunity that has rocked the region’s leaders, and basically for the lack of various established organization’s commitment in the region’s politics, as the leaders are not accountable and transparent; or simply, militant groups finds it difficult to focus on a common goal, vision and ideology of the region’s long national and economic deprivation over time, that makes the crisis seem even more complex, tactical and dangerous.

Let us give a helping hand to the young generation, uplift their morale to enable them to revive the national character and to carry on the process of national upliftment. It is also our duty and if we are indifferently disposed to it, we are certainly disregarding our duty towards the society and nation. Under such circumstances, we have no right to initiate peace process, because if we cannot find people in ourselves, therefore finding peace in others is impossible. Encourage the youth in nation building is something that is character oriented, and if our leaders in government despise these salient issues, then it is glaring that they are profiting from the violence, and the current national quagmire.

Psychologically, these issues of violence and crisis in the region which has claimed more 80,000 youths life since 1992 is not really because of the deplorable state of things in the region as evangelized by warlords; yes this is glaring, the people of the region are suffering beyond measure, or the inability for the youths of the region to partake in Nation Building capacity, nor the activities of other factors. But because the leaders and representative of the various groups in the region are against one another, which is motivated by some sort of internal power politick for the control of illegal oil marketing activities, other illegitimate and un-peopled affairs, and a high level card scoring scene in the region among politicians, and the power class.


From the above analogy and largesse, the reason for CLO, NGOs and government participation in the facilitation towards ending the conflicts in the region between militants and multinational corporations on one hand, Government and Militants/Youths Leaders on the other hand, and coalition of the willing to prevent further crisis in the region, which houses the leaders and representative from Multinational Oil Corporations, Stakeholders in the peace process, the Government, civil liberty organization and the international community on another end, is to put an end to the violence and under-development in the region. The State and Federal government demonstration of amnesty initiative is a welcome development, and should be embraced by all stakeholders in the area in order to sue for dialogue.

The political independence is essential for the upliftment of a nation, but it is not the end. Much is to be achieved on social and economic fronts. Probably, the political independence was regarded as the ultimate goal. Therefore, the contemporary generation of youths was not given any definite guide-line; with the result they had no knowledge of their duties towards the society or the nation. To avoid further deterioration of the situation, it is necessary to guide the youths in right direction, so that they may engage themselves with the task of completing the unfinished process of upliftment of their nation. The responsibility of preparing the background and creati

ng a congenial environment in this respect lies with the intellectuals and the leaders of society. But if the leaders through pride and personal ego fail to realize these facts, then we will continue to embark on the enslaved marigold problems.

Separately, the government, NGOs and CLOs have been trying to mediate and facilitate peace process in the area through several MDGs projects, sustainable initiative with communities in the region, and to negotiate with youth leaders, warlords; who because of lack of cooperation and misplaced agenda have been fighting themselves over ethnic, religious and political matters and not because of the plight of their people (Asakitikpi, 2007). These are indeed reasons why any form of peace process in the area has failed, why the Amnesty initiative of the federal government and genuine stakeholders in the Niger Delta will not work, if these leaders through a forum of sincere peace builders in line with government’s plans for development do not come together through consensus.

Asakitikpi went further:

“The headline which quote Alhaji Dokubo as stating that ‘we must control our resources’, suggest the he – Dokubo is not fighting for the rights of his people to have control their resources, but for powerful individuals like himself”.

Going by Asakitikpi’s analogy, it is to say that while there are no genuine youth leaders, other than illustrious personalities like Isaac Adaka Boro, Professor Ake and their likes; the manner in which some of the claimed freedom fighters, Militants (MEND) and co, Youth Leaders and their various administrative structures are composed is not to say beyond measure, unacceptable. Literarily we are all aware of the bunkering episode that brought some of these leaders to financial fame, and the criminal activities to convert federal and state laws into personal enterprise. One must quickly re-visit the differentiation between legitimate leadership structure and a mob operated scheme, which at certain time terrorized the inhabitants of their communities those who stood in their way of justices and legality. These Militants leaders that preaches irrelevancy of the amnesty package today were also instrumental to the building of the foundation along with militarized economic misnomer of the antecedent of military regime, the inability of a decent society across the region. Will it not be refuted with regard to the rationality of these leaders’ genuine course for development in the area, when they were actors in the vandalization of the moral and economic good of their host communities; while circumventing their people and playing the gimmicks with Multinational Corporations and shady government officials? In my Ernest opinion, those leaders that will reject the amnesty initiative of the Federal government are the real terror of the region, and they should face the full blow of the law.

This is indicative of Alhaji Asari Dokubo’s recent nationwide activities as per the crisis in the region, and his docile and incurrent acumen to fully comprehend the dynamics and sincerity as an in-depth mythology of the peace building and Youth development initiative of the region. The reason for this exercise is, for both the Federal Government, MNCs, NGOs, CLOs and Militants Groups to admittedly compensate the people of the region of the havoc melted on them, for the long years of economic degradation, political marginalization, economic deprivation, and barricading terror weighed on them by both Military operations of the Federal Government in their drive to eliminate Militants, and Guerilla warfare on them by Militants.

Tentatively, the good news is, the government has started making frantic efforts to ameliorate the plights of the people in the region most especially youths of the region, through youth sustainable development initiative, under the umbrella of “Youth In Nation Building Initiative”. Imperatively, all organizations and groups in the regions’ interest should be centered on development and articulate visions, strategies and projects for the youths in terms of nation building initiative in line with the Rebrand Nigeria Project (RNP). Whatever strategy that would be employed to bring about peace, stability and sustainable youth development in the nation building initiative should gain the utmost attention of the government and other stakeholders, and it must therefore take cognizance of the empowerment of the youths in order to redress one of the root causes of social, political, economic and psycho-social instability. And the values of decadence, that is, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and all their attendant vices should be attended to by declaring a state of emergence in this project of Youth Development in order to encourage nation building capacity.

Through Nation Building, empowerment of Youths in its entire ramification is likely to lead to human capital development which in turn is expresses to reduce the tendency towards anti-social behaviours that affects societal norms, ethics and values. Youth development is not about increase capacity in terms of knowledge and skill acquisition as pronounced in so many organizations’ mission statements nowadays, rather it equally requires that individuals have access to capital so that their means of livelihood could be sustained and realized. A decent society where there is a wide gap between the rich and poor creates the condition for desperation and the undermining of societal values as individuals will do anything possible to avert poverty by any means. This should be discouraged by creating a forum for filling these society gaps, such as government’s concentration on youth development in nation building, as they are the leaders of tomorrow, and the workforce of present and very near future.

The tendency of serving personal interests is increasing day by day. We have unwittingly forgotten that the progeny will ultimately suffer. It is applicable to other problems also. One does not remain young for long. A generation can never build a nation in their life time. The energetic youths of course can complete the task in hand in phases. One generation completes one phase of work, the next one is prepared to carry it further and so the third…It is a continuous process of continuity. But after the completion of the first stage of development, if the posterity is not prepared to take over the task in hand, or loses direction and go astray, the situation will remain unchanged as it is today. If the youths lose their way or direction, it would become very serious and alarming and the situation of course has brewed violence, and the crisis we are spending Billions of Naira in Security votes today; monies we would have used in developing youth sustainable projects over time, is now devoted into fighting violence..what an irony of a Nation.

Yet again, strategies on resource mobilization to support potential youth election candidates, civic education with a special focus on the critical role of youth, networking and coordination of youth activities to form a platform where we speak in one voice and push our agenda, working with media for the benefit of youth and building their capacity as leaders who work with and for the people they represent and thus, the community at the grassroots. The national and regional focus and scope of leadership should not be limited to politics and national level; it should transcend boundaries into regional and international levels. The Youth through its several agencies and bodies should be able to have competent youth representatives in such bodies should reflects youths affairs, national policy implementation and political education of in preparation and pursuance of future leadership. It is imperative to adapt universally accepted value systems, broaden their knowledge by exposing ourselves to what youth leaders and leaders from other age-groups and countries are engaged in, learn and adapt what works best.

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