By Tor Shiekuma Felix
Overtly, youths are the fulcrum of any surviving society. They are embedded with rich resources that every meaningful society would need for its sustenance. They are the nerve cells which accelerate the movement of a well functioning society. This group of people stands as concrete blocks needed for nation building. Without youths, societies can never flourish developmental wise and their existence is indisputably petrified. Predominantly, they represent the hope of their society. Moreover, they stand as the future of the society. Their relevance takes us to a cliché: “Youths are leaders of tomorrow”.
I actually engaged myself for quite a protracted time, considering why this catch-phrase is largely unrealizable in Nigeria. I also tasked myself to read the up-to-date National youth development policy and I was glad to have it that, Nigeria as a state has glaring intentions for her youths, but it is largely on print medium; no practical application. Our leaders made this cliché to be a singing chorus during their interviews and other official speeches, but all we are seeing is the opposite. It is quite exciting to state that nobody has ever objected the fact that youths are leaders of tomorrow, but when?
Right from when I was in primary school, my teachers taught me Nigeria’s former Heads of State, from 1960 till date. The same people that were being addressed as former Heads of State are still in government with grey hair. Does it mean our teachers were deceiving us? Or they are still in their youthful stage? No. Some have even made national assembly as their permanent abode, since we graduated from military rule. Nigerian youths have not in way gained privilege to govern this country in little capacity. May be we are abstract leaders.
Our leaders are now grooming and training undiscerning youths as hoodlum and thug leaders. Some have even made them women procurers. However, this is not the type of leadership we desire. We are zealous of leadership, which our youthful potentials would be highly utilized for the benefit of our dear nation. A negative leadership is globally accepted as a disaster to any country, and those anchoring this form of leadership do not wish well for the youths and our country Nigeria.
Our tertiary institutions are saturated with aged lecturers; most of them are living on contract because their service age has been exhausted. Some ancient professors moving wobblingly with trembling voice are still occupying offices; moreover, their eyes are no longer accommodating medicated eye grasses. Whereas, highly intelligent youths with good certificates; are roaming around the streets with grubby files. Universities authorities always complain of lack of employment opportunities, when inactive and indolent lecturers are still occupying offices.
Our government of Nigeria had given 35% employment slots to women. However, if youths are being acknowledged as nation builders, where is our slot? Youths ought to receive uncompromised 50% employment slot because of their fresh approaches to modern conundrums, but this is certainly unattainable. Akin to this is an age specification for recruitment or employment, which oftentimes favour youths but we are always left behind during selection process. We are the most hopeless age group in Nigeria.
Nigerian politicians are now using this cliché as a campaign strategy. During campaigns youths’ hope of becoming future leaders are reawaken by deceptive politicians; just to gain their votes. Immediately after elections, youths are abandoned and their stooges are used in place of general youths. This is our untenable plight in Nigeria.
I am self-assured that Nigeria is indirectly practising gerontocracy in place of democracy. This is more so because older men are the ones steering government machineries. As a youth, contesting for any political position is perceived as a felony, in fact, it is the same as using your own digger to dig your grave.
However, a future leader who is not groomed, nurtured and trained for the task ahead, tend to become a future destroyer. A disciplined, focused, and law-abiding youth can create a bright future for any nation. Conversely, a lawless, indulgent, ill-nurtured and violent youth is a great threat to a nation’s peace and security. So, since we are being disdained by our current leaders, they are directly and indirectly training future terrorists and saboteurs. Similarly, they are making Nigeria a hopeless country in the near future.
History has it that, Gen. Yakubu Gawon, who was the third Head of state of Nigeria from 1966-1975, ruled Nigeria at the age of 32 years (African’s youngest Head of State as of then). Although, it was during military administration but we still want this gesture to repeat itself during our modern democracy.
In the similar vein, a 20-year-old Scottish student, Mhairi Black, emerged as the youngest British lawmaker, in the just concluded United Kingdom general election, held on 7th may, 2015. He ousted the incumbent, Douglas Alexander, by a clear margin of 5,684 votes. Does it mean Nigerian youths can’t produce a lawmaker?
Nigeria’s population is predominately youth. Nigeria has a population of one hundred and forty million people (NPC 2006 provisional results which makes her the most populous nation in Africa). One third of her population is youths between the ages of 18 to 35 years. They constitute about 40 percent of the more than 140 million people of Nigeria. It is therefore a limpid message to Nigerian leaders that the future of Nigeria lies in the hands of the youths. If they are not coached, Nigeria will imminently be addressed as case-study in incompetency social vices. But, if youths are correctly taken care, Nigeria would definitely retain its appellation as giant of Africa, even of the whole world.
As a result of this, our government should explore every available ways to empower youths and nurse their potentials. Youths should form crux of their policies, initiatives and decisions. Predominantly, we should be given chance in government to make our dear nation global realm of attention.
To close the curtain of this discussion, youths are both agents of change and destruction. Youths must therefore be properly incubated so as to silence the spirit of destruction and preserve the future of Nigeria.
*TOR, SHIEKUMA FELIX, firstname.lastname@example.org