At different times in the Nigerian political history, youths had played pivotal roles for the upliftment of our nation. For Nigeria to be democratically independent and to secure freedom from colonialists, the youths play the pivotal roles. For the country to be entirely free from the civil war that ravaged the nation between 1967 and 1970, youths were occupying the highest echelons of the Nigeria Army and they exhibited patriotism to the country. For Nigeria to return to a full-fledged democratic dispensation, the youths were at the forefront of the war against military usurpation and continued domination of the country’s governance.
It could be aptly inferred that, a group of people that had all these landmark and heroic contributions needed to be accorded respect in every facet of our national life. Before now, Nigerian youths were considered the pivot on which the politics, economy and social lives rotate. When, how and where then did they lose the focus and respect earlier accorded them? How then did a group that rose meteorically to the top and dominated the polity for decades were suddenly relegated to the background?
During the colonial days, the Nigerian Youth Congress (NYM) was a powerful pressure group that gave the British colonialist sleepless nights. They advocated for the inclusion of blacks in governance and it was speedily granted when the heat was becoming too much on the colonialist? Today, rather than focus on these things that could promote our nation and make it a potent force to be reckoned with globally, the youth are now concentrating energies on those things that could defame the nation. Most of those carrying out insurgency and insurrection in the North East, banditry in the NorthWest, kidnapping and robbery in other geo-political zones are youth, most of whom are highly educated and knowledgeable. They now prefer to be thugs to moneybags and political warlords and used to perpetrate all manners of nefarious activities than to engage in productive ventures.
Most disturbing is the recent trend of event in our nation, where cases of cybercrime, fondly branded Yahoo-Yahoo is gradually becoming a fad. To our consternation, youth engaging in this demeaning business were doing it overtly. Some were even proud enough to flaunt their wealth around and could boldly pronounce himself a Yahoo boy wherever he goes. This substantiated further the level of degeneracy in our youths and the well-entrenched decadence in our society.
Though, one could agree with the fact that Nigerian youths have been so neglected by government at all levels. Again, it could be said that they have been badly traumatized by the geometric increase in level of unemployment in our society. But from time immemorial, Nigeria had been having challenges and the generations of youth at that time did not mortgage the nation’s future or compromise their personal integrity. Could it be said that there were no challenges confronting the nation when the likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamidi Azikiwe, Chief Anthony Enahoro and others were fighting colonialists and agitating for independence for Nigeria? Time has come for Nigerian youths to scheme and regain their pride of place in the politics of the nation.
I quite agree with that widespread belief that for youths to bounce back to reckoning, they needed the backings and supports of governments. They have to be empowered politically and financially. Some governors were already conscious of this and they are already devising means to effect policies and programmes that are youth-oriented.
In Ekiti in particular, Governor Kayode Fayemi has demonstrated to be incurably committed to making the youth the focus of his government. Some programmes like Youth in Commercial Agriculture (YCAD), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), youths advocate programs, Ekiti State scholarship scheme which can be earned up to PhD level, Ekiti State peace corps, volunteer programmes and others, reinforced the substantial efforts being made to make youths relevant.
In the composition of the state executive council and membership of the state House of Assembly, Governor Fayemi also demonstrated his love for the youth by ensuring that youths got up to 40% components to boost their relevance. Knowing fully well that women who are in the youth category were being subdued by their male counterparts, certain percentage of political positions were reserved for them at every stratum of government’s structure in Ekiti. In fact, this is not less than the 35 percent affirmative recommended globally in this regard.
To also trigger youth’s interest and consciousness in nation building, Governor Fayemi has set a machinery in motion for the establishment of Ekiti Knowledge Zone, where youths with profound and outstanding intellectual and vocational capacities can be showcased and possibly enterprises to the world through the act of role modeling to the coming generation. The Nigerian society has come to the realization that any nation that neglect its youth will collapse, because the new order around the world is youth empowerment and recognition in the scheme of things and Nigeria as giant of Africa is circumspect of this and cannot afford to be left out in this sector.
With the look of things, youth are gradually becoming a force to reckon with in Nigeria. But it imperative to advise that they should shun social vices and key into various profitable schemes being introduced by government to bolster their productivity in the society, failure to do this will make them lose relevance and go further into the abyss of de-recognition in governance and other decisions-making areas.
The viewpoint was written by Dalimore Aluko, Assistant Principal, Ikere High School, Ikere-Ekiti, 08066181583