The Youth and the Nigerian Society

by Carl Collins Ogunshola Oshodi

There is a popular saying that our youths of today are the leaders of tomorrow; this axiom no longer holds political and economic water; in fact, too much has happened and they youths of this country has been patient enough. Knowing well they are the most dynamic and productive segment of the population in the country, with about sixty two percent constituting the labour force. They are also a bridge between the young and old in the age distribution of a demographic analysis. Therefore a society that fails to empower and protect its youth cannot socially and economically progress.

In Nigeria the unemployment rate is still very high despite government “rhetoric”of improving the economy. It is highly regrettable that our youths have not been giving their fair share of the wealth of this country, because our political leaders and community elders, have not shown any practical sensibility towards the youths’ interest; since they have always brought their selfish interest before others. And as such the political and economic domination of the youths has always been their agenda.

This explains the social and economic marginalization of the youths. Consequently there is a rise in the agitation for a better future by the youth, resulting in what may be termed a social or political rebellion against their political leaders in some communities, because they have lost confidence in them.

In recent times, our once respectful, disciplined and hardworking youths have earned some uncomplimentary remarks in a society that has rubbed them of the better part of their life, with little or nothing to show for it.

The agency of the government (Federal Ministry of Youth Empowerment) whose responsibility is to build the capacity of the youths at various levels, has not only initiative kangaroo policies and programs, it has rather made a mockery of its institution’s function. On the other hand, In the wake of Nigeria’s Independence various bodies and like minded organisations harmonized to form unions and umbrellas bodies to support the growth and success of the new Republic, Voluntary Youth Organisations merged to form the National Youth Council of Nigeria, in August 1964 the council was formally recognised by an act of parliament as the statuary umbrella of legitimate Uniformed and non-Uniformed Voluntary Youth Organisations in Nigeria; with its 36 state chapters including FCT and 774 LGA branches and affiliate VYO’s. The Council is so recognised in the implementation Strategy of the current National Youth Development Policy (2001).

As apex body, the NYCN is charged with the overall objective of policy formulation and implementation on issues bordering youth development in Nigeria. It also mobilizes all nationally recognized voluntary youth organizations, state youth council chapters and local government youth council branches to engage in activities that are of benefit to them and the nation at large. Youth, according to the youth policy status, acknowledged youths as persons between the ages of 18 to 35. The NYCN is managed and govern by 23 national executive committee (NEC) members.

The fundamental question herein is, could this body be said to represent the entire Nigerian youths, when thousands of youth-led organizations are excluded from participating in the all-inclusive governance, policy formulation and implementation process?

The attitude of some of Nigerian youths are only expressions of their reaction to the unfortunate situation of lack and deprivation they have found themselves. Relatively, youths in this country have played their role in the process of nation building to the extent of their endowment. Rather than the past and present governments complimenting their effort, they rewarded the youths with neglects in all ramification.

Also, youths can be credited with their immense contribution in the struggle against military dictatorship in this country to enthrone a civilian government. Evidence abounds during the Obasanjo, IBB and Abacha Junta policies, a situation the herculean NANS fought to a stand-still. For the purpose of actualizing a democratic government, there were organized demonstrations and enlightenment campaigns, which resulted in the killing of some students and other individuals as a price for good governance, it is important that this should not be forgotten so soon by the people and government of this country.

As a result of their dynamic and active nature, political parties have recognized them such that they have youth leaders as members of their executives at all levels. But, ironically the recognition is not for government to formulate, a practically effective policy in the youth’s interest to arrest the hardship facing them, but mere theory. After all, at every election youths accounts for a large proportion of the total votes casted.

>From all indications youths are not only leaders of tomorrow, but also a coefficient for determining the leadership of this country at whatever level. Unfortunately the youths have not been able to represent themselves adequately, without doing the biding of one leader or the other; even if it is at their own detriment. Hence a social cum political analysis suggests a generational imbalance in our society. Upon the face of their limitless advantages, they are the people on the field, campaigning for electoral votes, voting, serving as pooling agents or clerks etc. regrettably many of these youths do not seem to know the implication of supporting the wrong people to hold political offices because of the monetary gratification, which they receive from politicians.

At this juncture, one would not fail to indict our political leaders and elders for the social cum economic hardship suffered by the youths. But the youth must themselves be reminded that they share in this blame that is responsible for the ugly situation confronting them, since they have chosen to be like pawns on the chessboard of the political class. Some of them are bodyguards to bad leaders, thugs and executioners for some politicians, accounting for the series of political assassinations in the country.

Incontrovertibly, some of these youths started leaving a life without control at an early age and as such there is the tendency for them to be misdirected and also get themselves involved in campus confraternities and street gangs. As members of such informal groups they are influenced and introduced to drinking, smoking, stealing and the use of hard drugs together with some other social vices, which makes them very violent and aggressive and often involves in fracases with individuals or rival groups resulting in the loss of lives.

This menace can be contemplated in the interest of our society, because it serves as a platform for breeding criminals. Hence government crusade against crime has not been successful and this is not only associated with the ineptitude on the part of government, but the inability of the security agencies to curtail the large turnout of graduates from this informal school of criminals.

Without prejudice, this situation is only expected where majority of the people refuse to be part of the leadership selection process by voting for the right candidates. And eventually to be un-favoured to have irresponsible leaders without the mental and analytical skill to make good projections supportive of good policies and programmes, which has obviously translated into bad government.

Unfortunately, this would encourage decadence in the society since parents and guardians cannot properly cater for the needs and wants of their children and wards as desired. Therefore the ability to effectively enforce discipline become suspect. The consequence of this is manifest in the increase of irresponsible and unproductive youths. This is indicative of an immediate problem, but worst still is the threat to the decency of the existence of the society, because of those who would not only be products of the same so

ciety, but be the leaders of tomorrow.

Government inconsistency in planning and policy formulation was made naked, where it is supposed to be the interest of government to ensure a society with an educated and articulate youths to enhance a better labour force. But unfortunately education has been made the exclusive preservation of the rich in Nigeria; considering the exorbitant amount to be paid as school fees both in Federal and State owned tertiary institutions, while the parents and guardians of the students are unfortunately the same workers and pensioners that would not have receive their salaries and other entitlements as when due for months.

Majority of the youths between the ages 18-35 years are the worst hit by this neglect, which is a contradiction of the older generation, that had things working for them; they enjoyed free education, bursary, and even somewhere trained abroad by government, got jobs before graduating from higher school or completing their vocational studies. In fact the economy was good, goods and services were relatively cheap and affordable. But today our youths can hardly find jobs and earn income for themselves, afford to pay for an apartment and get settled in life for obvious reasons.

Some of the youths subjected to this hardship, are those restricted by the social and political dynamics of our society to be underprivileged not to have relatives in the position of advantage or enjoy some form of supernatural benevolence. And only relatives to top public officers to a large extent would be employed, get contracts or enjoy any other economic benefit, and would have no cause to regret the day they were born into this country.

Quite unlike those whose dreams of a better society has become a mirage, since there is yet to be light in the tunnel. This is why some of them that are skilled and unskilled are left with no alternative than to migrate to other countries, where their services may be needed and rewarded because their own country is yet to appreciate their worth’s, regardless of some of the un-dignifying conditions that they may be subjected to in their new country of residence. And to say the least youth patriotism is as good as dead in this country, and this is exhibited in their apathy towards government affairs.

Although one may be tempted to excuse some of these youths for their activities based on the extent of poverty and deprivation in a country with so much wealth. Culminating into the cycle of poverty among them and manifesting a social class war in our society, responsible for the craze for wealth, because of the value the society itself attaches to it, regardless of the genuineness of it source. And to make a case for them simply because of illiteracy is a baseless postulation. Illiteracy cannot justify their irresponsible and indecent acts.

Without any form of prejudice some of the literate youths can best be described as collaborators with politicians resulting in bad governments, because not a few of them had had the opportunity to serve their people politically in different capacities and the activities left much is to be desired while holding public offices, with their disregard for procedures and show of shame. They end up promoting the old order since they could not deviate from the selfish and individualistic ideology of a few, rich and powerful cabals in our society that are instrumental to their political achievement.

Well, because of the over bearing effect of the social and economic hardship on the youths, they have lost the confidence of government and political leaders hence the culture of political violence and the quest for radical change is on the increase, as they desire a better future.

It is therefore imperative that for the realization of our youths’ desire, the vulnerability of youths, to the exploitation of the political cabals, contractors and jobbers must be frustrated and brought to an end by ensuring that their activities are guided by moral decency and good conscience, in our own interest and that of the society at large. Because a continual reliance on these discredited politicians, as political directional compasses is a path to destruction. The youths in Nigeria must therefore vehemently make a statement in their interest and the generation yet unborn for a relative wealth distribution and a better society.

Ideally, Pan-Africanist curriculum should be introduced into Nigerian schools to enlighten youths on the vital roles of Africa as a continents and their roles in the development structure of our nationhood called Nigeria. If all we do is propose meaningful solutions to these problems we would have done a lot. I am not by any means suggesting that we can resolve these problems on our own. I am merely saying that as Nigerian and legitimate members of the “Stakeholders Council” towards national restructuring, we deal with matters of gravity relative to ending the ugly menace called “Cultism” and not inconsequential issues.

This was the original path set out by the Nationalistic hoards like Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Saudana of Sokoto – Sir Ahmedu Bello. Nobody should put limitations on our potentials as Nigerians. There is a failure of leadership in continental Africa and Nigeria. Somebody must step into the gap, and there is nobody more qualified than the youth of this generation. Gowon became head of state in Nigeria at 32 years old.

Murtala Mohammed became Nigerian leader at 37 years old. Thomas Sankara, Valentine Strasser were all young men. Black scorpion, Benjamin Adekunle commanded the dreaded third marine commando during the civil war as a Brigadier at the age of 29 years old. Youth has its advantages, it is time to rise up to the challenges of their time. It is time to inspire our nation’s youths to reach for the stars. Consequently, as the world is now a global village, it is time to take advantage of the times and not to make a mockery or caricature of the enabling environment styled for the typical Nigerian youths who’s role is nation-building.

Philip Emegwali, one of the fathers or indeed the Father of the Internet has set the stage for young Nigerians. Nicholas Idemudia stated in his articles, that Africa is the richest of the continents, The day we open our eyes, look around us in Africa, appreciate our fertile soil, the richness of our flora and fauna, our mineral resources, wonderful weather, teeming human and material resources, we will fall on our knees in gratitude to a GOD who so loved the Black man that he blessed him with the best portion of the earth. On that day we will truly become men and begin the journey of reclaiming our position as the first-born and rapidly move towards surpassing the deeds of our glorious ancestors.

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1 comment

Adetona esther November 11, 2019 - 4:28 pm

I love this conversation about it


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