A lecturer, public peace advocate and nation builder, Mr. Tunji Ajibola, has identified lack of care from government and parents as the cause of youth restiveness and other crimes bedevilling Nigeria today.
Ajibola, chief executive officer of Learned Partners Professional Services, is also the convener of Young People Life Skills Training Series Nigeria and Project One Million Youth NG, Lagos. He advocated that, for Nigerian youths to be kept away from crime, government must make social welfare and the Federal Ministry of Youth functional for young people’s capacity building, reformation and empowerment.
Ajibola, who was speaking at his office on his inspirational moments with youths, said he was ready to assist government in procuring solutions to problems associated with young people and reforming them to become good citizens.
Said he: “Presently, the conditions of our youths are pathetic because they are directionless and moving like sheep without a shepherd. This is no fault of theirs. The estimated Nigerian population of over 200 million is said to consist of 70 per cent of young people. This consists all the classes of young people. Young people in early school, secondary school, young people in apprenticeship training, artisans, undergraduates, fresh graduates, working class and other young people, whether married or unmarried. Young people in this context could mean infants, teenagers and those that are between 19 years and 40 years.
“Problems associated with young people include restiveness, crime, touting, thuggery and other anti-social behaviours. They are very prone to these anomalies because of their naivety, daring conduct, strength and lack of efficient social orientation or integration structures.
“Of course, schools, trade centres and work-ready training centres have been established to equip the young people for the good of the society, but we need to do a critical evaluation of the established system of youth development. Much has been said about our educational system, that there must be a shift towards churning out job-creator graduates rather than jobseekers. For those who are into trade or apprenticeship, government must provide transparent financing. It must be easy to access, not attaching stringent conditions to it.”
For young people prone to restiveness, Ajibola said government should create community-based security structures and give young people security responsibilities. To tackle the menace of thuggery and other young people with anti-social behaviour, the state youth ministry, in collaboration with the welfare unit of every local government, should be given the task of holding regular outreach and enlightenment programmes. The motives should be reformation.
He spoke further: “Youth is a stage of life that comes with exuberance and high energy. As a result of this, young people are prone to experiment with all kinds of bad behaviours, if not properly and constantly monitored. Adults who are into crime, cultism and other vices exploit the naivety of young people to recruit them.
“I remember when I was about 20 years old, an elderly person leveraged on my innocence to recruit me into advance fee fraud; he would come to me, extract information from me about my extended family members living abroad. He sold the idea that it was the right business to do.
“As a lecturer, in the midst of young people regularly, I have discovered that some of them who took to crimes and cultism were recruited ignorantly.
“Parents, government and the society have their fair share of the blame. Parents these days are no longer available to nurture their children. The pursuit of wealth and financial responsibilities have consumed parents, thus, some of these youths have missed parental guidance. Broken homes are another cause. Where both parents are not together, young people hardly fare well, except by the grace of God. Research has shown that most of the so-called hooligans and hoodlums are products of broken homes.
“The Nigerian society is not also helping matters. Gone are those days when people would not want to relate with you when the source of your wealth was questionable. These days, our society worships money. We celebrate people as long as they have money. There is a breakdown of moral and social norms.
“On its part, government has not been proactive in youth development. I was surprised when I visited Lagos State Ministry of Youth Development during Governor Ambode’s tenure. I found it difficult to believe that there were different departments, like youth counselling, training, and all that. And there were youth who needed all these attention out there.
“Anytime I pass through Oshodi and other motor parks, I feel for our society because these are the training grounds for robbery and other crimes.”
The activist urged parents to realise that whatever money they are trying to make that would cost them the neglect of their wards was not worth it.
He said: “Most of us are what we are today by the proper upbringing that our parents and communal living in those days gave to us. Every young boy or girl needs good parental upbringing to be a responsible member of the society. Parents should balance the role of making ends meet and nurturing their children.
“Religious institutions and other agencies saddled with these responsibilities should embark on regular enlightenment on the consequences of divorce, juvenile marriage and unwanted pregnancy. These are ways we can reduce the increase in the number of hoodlums.”