The Place Of Youths In Decision-Making In Nigeria

by Carl Collins Ogunshola Oshodi

Young people make-up two thirds of the Nigerian population and we are unarguably faced with numerous challenges ranging from unemployment, HIV/AIDS, Mass illiteracy, lack of educational opportunities, poverty, and a myriad of other challenges. As a result of which so many youths have largely become involved in counterproductive activities nationwide, thereby fostering the calibrated effects that is resultants to the dangers of social vices bedevilling the very fabrics of our regional and national unity. Youths are the foundation of a society.

In the past, the country has made several attempts to address the issue of how best to harness the creative energies and dynamism of youths for overall regional and national development. However, the strategies for implementation of some of those policies have not been observably effective, due to a variety of well-known reasons. The result is that a significant number of youths have become delinquent in spite of the well known fact that they constitute region’s only real hope for a great future.

The UN Programme on Youth defines youth participation as the active and meaningful involvement of young people in all aspects of their own, and their communities’ development, including their empowerment to contribute to decisions about their personal, family, social, economic and political development. Effective youth participation means that young people are not seen as passive recipients of national resources or the root causes of society’s problems. Instead they are seen as stakeholders who make an important contribution to their countries’ development and whose involvement must therefore be appropriately nurtured and cultivated.

When talking about participation/roles, it is important to look closely at the nature of roles
– where success is measured not only by its scope, such as the number of young people who participate, but also by quality. The nation’s ministry of youth empowerment and productivity has identified different levels of participatory findings, that the higher the level of participation, the more control, influence and responsibility young people will have on the outcomes. The Federal Government must not allow for a “hope gap”, where youth fall into a cycle of unemployment and start to believe they will not emerge from it. Young people’s involvement in finding solutions to unemployment is essential, and for that involvement to exist, the hope for a decent job must be kept alive.”

let it be reiterated forthwith of the possibility of a lost generation if urgent measures are not put in place by the designated ministries and stakeholders to have a youth inclusive agenda in national policy making and implementation. while not also oblivious of “today’s generation of youth – the largest the country has ever known, and the vast majority of who live in urban centres has unprecedented potential to advance the well-being of the Nigerian youths.

Furthermore, there is a global economic crisis which has hit the Nigerian youths the hardest and many are understandably discouraged by rising inequalities, especially unemployment. A large number of graduates and school leavers have no immediate prospects and are disenfranchised from the political, social and development processes. Without urgent measures, we risk creating a ‘lost generation’ of squandered talent and dreams.

It is also pertinent to call on governments, the private sector, civil society and academia to open doors for young people and strengthen partnerships with youth-led organisations. Research also indicates that the youth can determine whether this era moves toward greater peril or more positive change. For peace, political and economic stability of the Nation, the Federal, State and local government should support the young people of this nation so that they can grow into adults who will bring up yet more generations of productive and powerful leaders.

Around the world and in Nigeria, young people have less access to opportunities than older people. There is a serious gap in expectations which can lead to resentment. On every continent and in every country, there are serious issues surrounding youths that go unattended. At the same time the ineffectiveness of the system coupled with the barriers to participation and expression can lead to protest and even violence as is being witnessed the world over inclusive of Nigeria. Until the issues impacting youths are addressed wholeheartedly and the systems of participation are improved, young people will continue to protest the status quo and violence may continue unabated even in the face of the highest allocation of funds to security and defense institutions.

§ The world’s population reached six billion people in 1999 and according to the United State Census Bureau seven billion in March 2012. The United Nation however, estimated that the world population reached even seven billion in October 2011
§ 85% of the 1.2 billion young people worldwide, ages 15-25, live in developing nations.
§ 500 million young people live on less than $2 per day
§ There are 100 million street children in the world
§ There are 186 million child labourers under 15 worldwide
§ 171 million children ages 5-17 work in hazardous conditions worldwide
§ 8.4 million children are involved in the worst forms of child labor as defined by ILO Convention 182, Article 3
§ 1 million young people die each year due to preventable causes
§ The World Health Organization estimates that 70% of premature deaths among adults are largely due to behavior initiated during adolescence, such as smoking and HIV contraction
§ 10 million youth live with HIV/AIDS
§ The population of Nigerians below the age of 35 comprise above 60% of the population
§ About 50% of Nigeria’s population is opined to be unemployed and 70% of those whose are unemployed in Nigeria are young people.
§ Over 200,000 Nigerians apply for American Visa every year (The Punch Newspaper, 2006), majority of who are young people. Young people often want to travel to other countries to seek better employment, education and means of livelihood (State of the World Population Report, supplement on youth, 2006).

Youths are critical stakeholders in decision making and development processes. Many international frameworks have continued to point to the important needs and challenges of young people in Africa and across the world and strategies to effectively address them have been developed. The most recent is the African Youth Charter which was adopted by African Union heads of State and Government in July 2006. The youth energy, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and the security of a nation. Through their creative talents and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainments. In their dreams and hopes, a nation founds her motivation; on their energies, she builds her vitality and purpose. And because of their dreams and aspirations, the future of a nation is assured.

In the face of the socio-economic, financial, political and ethno religious crisis that continues to plague our country with disastrous impact on our nation’s economy, social lives and which has also pose a grave danger to the peaceful coexistence of our region and country Nigeria, the Federal government and its partnering stakeholders should include the Nigerian youths in policies and decision making processing, such as relating to management of development dynamics and affairs of the country. This inclusion will create a multi-dimensional approaches towards non-violent, economic development, as well as deliberate widely on the state of the Nigerian project with a view to building bridges and breaking barriers.

The time for “talk” ha

s passed and implementation has become our password.

The time for “handouts” has also passed and investment by youths in their own future signals the best strategic approach to lasting solutions to poverty, ecological destruction, political exclusion/crisis, ethno-religious crisis, moral disintegration, unemployment, underdevelopment, retarded economic growth and social chaos.

The youths are a major stakeholders in the transformative force, creative, resourceful and enthusiastic agents of change, whether in public squares or cyberspace; and stakeholders in the youth and child development industries must not take this on a kid glove. This is essential for building sustainable peaceful and prosperous societies, noting that young people are a wellspring of ideas for innovation. They are today’s thinkers, problem-solvers and catalysts for peace. We should not forget in a hurry that the youths are often the world’s strongest advocates of justice and dignity. But they need good jobs, quality education and access to culture for all, as well as an inclusion in National policy formulation, dialogue and development process. Therefore, the youths need to be heard and they need to be included in total governance.

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