The Creator knows the power in youth. That is why He expects them to serve Him while in that age bracket (Ecclesiastes 12:1): “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
The youth are the backbone of a nation. Youths are the hope of the country. Society is often populated more by youths. Political leaders ascend their positions by seeking the support of youths. Religious leaders seek the vibrancy of youths to evangelize. Mohammed Yusuf, founder of the lslamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, enticed youths to form his sect by indoctrinating them.
Leaders from generations past to date capitalize on the innate abilities of youths to articulate and propound effective policies. Youths are the sustaining power of every family and government. Be that as it may, the power of youths can be channelled and abused for negative purposes that are inimical to society and even an entire generation. Truly, this generation exhibits tremendous capabilities of the youth. From technology to sports, science, religion and politics, youths of this age have been on very high performance level, winning medals and honour for Nigeria. On another hand, they can also be easily manipulated not always for good purposes but for evil ventures, as has been witnessed globally over the years. In our own environment, since the advent of the colonialists, youths have been targeted for indoctrination in ways that are often opposed to their culture.
This manipulation of youths has continued to the present day. The question is, when will the youths extricate themselves from the manipulative stranglehold of politicians and evil leaders in society? Or are the vibrant youths incapable of saving themselves? This very group that is very intelligent and restless often submit themselves to imbibe doctrines that tamper with their soul and mind and wrongly accept to be strapped with deadly explosives that, when detonated, will end their lives and all their potential.
Meanwhile, the persons who sold the deadly idea to them is alive. Some youths acquire illegal firearms, instead of education, and plan to rob people of their possessions, instead of embracing hard work.
Some loaf about aimlessly like street dogs, forgetting that hard work pays. Because of their activities, some of the youths are endangered species and a present danger to society. The immediate examples are the bandits and terrorists that now hold sway in the northern part of Nigeria. Of course, these are closely related to their terrorist colleagues known as Boko Haram.
These youths have sold their souls and minds to their master, the devil. They heartlessly kill innocent and helpless citizens, steal what does not belong to them and they destroy properties wantonly. And they do not care.
Sadly, many youths in Nigeria increasingly lose focus and allow wicked politicians to use corrupt money to buy their conscience, recruiting them to be ballot box snatchers, thugs and hired killers. They become tools of disorderliness during elections and other national activities.
Youths have energy that can be channelled for good. They ought to have conscience. This is where government should rise to its responsibilities in our society. It is only a responsible government that can help them to be better citizens. It is not a mark of responsible governance for the government to abdicate its fatherly role to provide and protect citizens, especially the youths, only to turn around to accuse the youths of laziness or taking to crime. Many Nigerian youths have died because government has abdicated its role by looking the other way. Instances abound where the government and its agencies funded by Nigeria’s resources and tasked to provide for the youth abandoned them to fate to languish in various foreign prisons.
If one should ask: How many youths of America, Britain, France or China can be found in any foreign prison without prompt intervention from their country? That is being responsible. When you as a father ensure the safety of your children, you foster good children, good youth. It is an unfortunate narrative that Nigerian youths were recruited into the Boko Haram terror sect without any proactive intervention or response from the central government.
There is no record that security agencies that were constitutionally mandated to provide security responded beyond resorting to force.
Unfortunately, the lackadaisical position of these agencies in charge of internal security has cost the country the death of thousands of youths, some of whom would have been leaders at various levels in the country.
The same lack of proactiveness created the loophole that warranted the easy access of bandits into all the forests in Zamfara, Katsina, Bauchi, Kaduna, Benue and Niger states, killing, maiming and kidnapping students and eminent citizens for huge ransom.
It is the nonchalant attitude of the central government and its security agencies that enabled the herdsmen to go on rampage on farmlands across the country, which has resulted in the national scarcity of agricultural products, thereby causing price hike.
Had the central and state governments heeded their constitutional roles, there would be “free” education for the youths at most to secondary education level. More important is the establishment of industries that ought to absorb the large population of youths. Was it not economic instability and insecurity that caused the exit of companies that assisted Nigeria to provide employment for its teeming youths in the past? These include companies like Dunlop, Michelin, Leventis, PZ, UTC, Bata, Mr. Biggs, Kingsway, etc.
Today, the activities and injustice of government that supposedly tilt towards states that are perceived to be “enemies of state” are manifested in immediate clampdown without reversing the noticeable injustice.
Sociologists are quick to advice that injustice, like smoke, if not addressed will eventually transform into fire and later into an inferno that could after all be unquenshable. Regrettably, the youths are on the receiving end of the policy lapses that force some of them to either escape to foreign countries or stay back, determined to either eke out a meaningful life or embrace criminality as opium.
Security File advice
This writer, as a crime-cum-security journalist, has covered issues related to the activities of armed robbers, kidnappers and terrorists.
He has been detained on the orders of two Presidents (Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar) twice and had been detained by the Nigeria Police (Lagos and Enugu), Nigeria Security Organization, now the Department of State Security (DSS), and the Nigerian Army (twice in Enugu and Makurdi).
He has covered wars in Nigeria and outside the country. He has interviewed several high-profile armed robbers and kidnappers (Check the book “Confessions of Notorious Armed Robbers in Nigeria”). As King Solomon puts it, “Vanity upon vanity, all is vanity.”
As a journalist with over four decades of active reporting, out of my vast wealth of experience talking to and writing about criminals, I humbly submit to Nigerian youths that crime and criminality do not pay, they only attract shame to oneself or, eventually, lead to death.