By Sani Mohammed
The youths represent a virile segment of every society’s population, which is usually a category of young and able-bodied people. It is often the transitional stage between infanthood and the relatively acknowledged old people. Every society and its subgroups have their idea of what constitutes or qualifies one to be called a youth, which varies from one place to another; one group to another; one person to another.
Hence, too many perspectives and definitions of the youth as a concept. To round off on the issues of fluid definitions of youth, a closer look at some authoritative definitions will help us to understand better. The African Union Summit 2017 with a thematic focus on:” Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investment in Youths “defined youths as those below 30 years of age. The United Nations defines youths as those young people who fall within 12 -24 years brackets. In most contemporary climes, some people see youths as under 45 years, while some see it as below 55 years.
The Nigerian National Youth Policy classified youths as those within the age bracket of 18 to 35. Notwithstanding different notions of who is a youth, the most critical thing is that the youth constitute the most active category of every country’s population. Hence, it will be reasonable to say whatever impact the youth of a country impacts the nation. No wonder Adolf Hitler once remarked that “if you capture the youths of a place, you have captured the place.”
Based on the foregoing notes, the fate of Nigerian youths has not hitherto seemed to be pragmatically designed by policy action but subject to the reactionary Dingdong nature of our policy decision-making process. There had been many well-intentioned programs for the youths in Nigeria like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, skill acquisition centres by Local, State and Federal Governments. The National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was ambitiously and insightfully designed to tackle youth unemployment; at present represents bold pioneer steps by the government to demonstrate to the Nigerian stakeholders that government job opportunities are no longer capable of providing employment to teeming youths. Many state governments also try to make agriculture attractive to youths. While all the efforts are laudable, one continues to wonder if the youths of Nigeria have really taken their deserved stage of history. Have all the efforts of the past and current governments since independence yielded the desired objectives for the youths?
Where is Nigeria youth standing among his global contemporaries? If our youths are considered laggings behind, what is/are responsible for this? How can we make a difference? The answers to these questions are not far-fetched solutions that will unlock the missing link in the Nigerian youth questions. Here I come!
The impacts of the youths who constitute the driving force; represent the greatest energies of the society. Ideally, he should be seen taking a holistic lead in our social, cultural, economic and political activities -not just one aspect of it. These holistic needs in one package represent what makes the youths of the first world many steps ahead of their Nigerian contemporaries.
The Elections of Emmanuel Macron to the French presidency in 2017 has sparked off a global atmosphere of youth-led political leadership as an idea whose time has come. Our genuine concern in this social psychology is to go beyond the temporal emotions upon which we are basking the success in Europe and reasonably introspect at what are the whole factors of livings that make the success of youth leadership realistic in our society-eg mentoring, education, economic well being, and social change (conducive atmosphere). The Youth-in-power phenomenon hadn’t been a strange thing in our politics until lately. Obafemi Awo was 37, Ahmadu Bello was 36, Nnamdi Azikiwe was 40, Anthony Enahoro was 27 when they fought for Nigerian independence. Yakubu Gowon was 32 when he assumed office as the Nigerian Head of States; Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo were 38 and 39years respectively when they mounted the seats of governments as military Heads of States, Salisu Buhari was a 29-year-old Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pat Utomi was made a presidential adviser at 27.
The renowned clamour for youths’ return to leadership ascendancy is undoubtedly inspired by contemporary youth progress and activities around the world. The world is no longer a global village but a global home. Suffice to say that our youths have been the hub of our social and economic struggles and lives. Our society cannot make any genuine reform unless the youths are impacted. Empowering the youths has to start by educating them, making it easy for them to acquire knowledge by which they can help themselves to survive economically and to be law-abiding citizens. The youths need a mentorship system that produces a lot of spiritual leaders that make leadership recruitment easy. Leadership goal should not just be a political office, but business, churches, mosques, academic, social groups, dispute resolution etc. It is the evolution of activities in different spheres of leadership that prepares one for political office.
Whereas the Nigerian landscapes have been bedevilled with many crises since our return to democratic government in 1999. We have Egbesu boys, Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta(MEND), Oduduwa People Congress (OPC)Boko Haram, kidnappers, yahoo fraudsters, community base cultism, Sharia riots, herdsmen killings and reprisals, electoral riggings and violence to mention but few that were mainly perpetrated by the youths. This crisis left a trail of thousands of fellow Nigerians killed and millions of property destroyed. It is evident that morality, conscience and empathy are either non -existent in most of our youths or have taken flight.
A very obvious gap is the lack of political education, as the youths become exposed to whatever social current that blows their ways. Our political future is indeed in danger going by the decline of the pristine attitude to win by superior logic and merit, rather than winning by muscles (violence), emotions, blackmail and falsehood. The brutal politically motivated killings as consequences of electoral violence in Rivers State in 2015 and 2016; Northern Nigeria 2011 place a question mark on the maturity of the perpetrators for political leadership. Mentoring seems to be competing with solo life ventures as everyone is carrying his cross; young people attach themselves to the political elite not to learn good virtue and avoid mistakes, but to do anything available for survival. The elites, instead of preparing the youths for leadership rather prepare to do their (elite) bidding. The elites hardly execute most dirty jobs but youths.
Mallam Aminu Kano of a blessed memory canvassed a relevant logic: “let superior logic(argument) wins, and social equity is enthroned”. The educational system at present is fraught with many inadequacies. The curriculum syllabi of our university and education system have no vital provision to make it a necessity that some challenges of our political system need to be addressed by academia. Objectivity, logic, argumentation, humanity, love and God must be taught to the leaders of the nation. These are the binding cords for our national integration, political maturity and socio-economic transformation. It is regrettable that at 60 years of independence, over 100 universities, polytechnics and colleges of higher learning; 45 years of NYSC scheme for national integration, we are still living with mutual suspicion, hatred, ethnic and religious bigotry and collapse of good cultural values.
The cultural gaps have been identified in the 2nd Republic by the 2nd Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari by response Ethical Revolution, General Buhari/Idiagbon regime War Against Indiscipline (WAI)etc. As the youths flex out their muscles in all directions to recreate for our economic and social survival, the gap of ethics must not just be filled but must be filled with a system that will maintain and promote it. Hence the system (discipline) is filling- the gap between the guide(ethics) and practices. These are the pitfalls the youths must avoid as they grope for the deserved leadership status. The first Republic Minister of Education, Aka Nwachukwu told the graduating youths at the first convocation ceremony of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1965:
“This nation will come under your feet, not to trample or destroy, but to build, nurture and sustain; and above all make it a pleasurable abode for mankind”.
On the basis of the foregoing, a brief outline of the Youth Economic Advancement Program (YEAP) is articulated;
1. Marriage of Schools-Industries program: industrial parks shall be built all the universities, polytechnics, monotechnics shall have their students engaged in industrial paid jobs, development of school innovation prototype machines or discoveries. The Nigerian Expert and Academic in Diaspora Scheme (NEADS) shall be revived through the National University Commission(NUC). It was pioneered in 2005 AD by Professor Gabriel Oyibo with homecoming lectures to address the Nigerian University on Gagut breakthroughs and path the way for economic transformation through science and technology. Gagut is scientifically yet to be reputed represent the key formula to understand and explain the universe; the greatest power to create and uncreate after God almighty. It is the ultimate human discovery embedded in the mathematical equation which Albert Einstein, among other scientists, couldn’t solve until their passing. The God Almighty Grand Unified Field Theory (GAGUT) of Professor Gabriel Audu Oyibo was adjudged to be the most significant human discovery; the most incredible power to create and uncreate in the universe after God Almighty summed up in Gij,j=0 shall be invited as a proven expert who designed fighter jets and rockets for United States Airforce and NASA. Any machine can be created with the Gagut formula. Philips Emeagwali is also to be invited over to help midwife the transfer of over 100,000 IT jobs being outsourced from the USA to China and India. The government will make just USD 450million available for this project. The Gagut discovery can create 20 million jobs in 2 years.
At the level of secondary education, the National Board for Technical Education shall partner with entrepreneurs to drive the production of commercial goods, artworks. There shall be a zonal and school exhibition with the National office of Technological Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) fully participating.
2. Outsourcing economy -Foreign Direct Investment (FDI): Many of the United States and European firms outsource millions of jobs, especially to India and China, where labour is relatively cheap and affordable. Many Nigerian Experts in the diaspora shall be engaged to get the Nigerian share of the dollarised outsourcing market. Target is 2million jobs.
3. Entrepreneurship and job compensation: efforts shall be made to ensure all those that work in factories as casuals or permanent staff are given adequate living wages, pension compensation and a health insurance scheme. The private security companies’ staff compensation scheme is relatively poor. There is a high disparity between what most security companies receive and what the personnel are paid. There is every urgency to investigate job compensation across boards and enforce humane response measures both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy. Government shall accredit some NGOs that have made their marks (good impacts) to assist in mentoring world-class youthful agripreneurs in view of the agricultural revolution. This is to create world-class competitive products that bring revenue directly to the budding entrepreneurs.15million youths are to be targeted on either full time or part-time.
4. Compulsory Health Insurance: the biggest threat to everyone’s ability to contribute his quotas to national development efforts is sickness, accident and impairment. As a result of poor economic backgrounds, many youth live by faith—no provisions for an eventuality like accidents, terminal diseases like Cancer, kidney problems, etc. Health insurance shall be made flexible, affordable and compulsory for all those that have reached 18 and above irrespective of where you work. There shall be ghost and crowdfunding health insurance programs for the indigent, destitute and unidentified persons in times of emergency. One should imagine if the cost of health is taken away as a burden off every youth and their sponsors or guardians. The Nigerian environment Will be more conducive.
5. National Reorientation: The National Orientation Agency(NOA) shall be mobilised to partner with the Federal and States Ministry of Education to start their(NOA)orientation programs at all levels of education: primary schools to the universities. Objectivity, logic, debates and all applicable forms of civic education shall be taught. We shall ensure that psychologists and sociologists are engaged in all schools to assess and prepare the children for nations building. Corruption and financial crimes that are prevalent in our society are products of fear of poverty, dominations or habitual motiveless stealing called kleptomania. This is encouraged by what sociologists called alienation. The fears and feeling of alienation has brought us to this sorry state, and we must tackle the problem from the root: schools and catch them young
6. Happiness Project: A ministry of happiness is not a stupid idea anyway. Nobody asks why comedy and motivation businesses are finding their feet in Nigeria ?. Why are people going to cinemas, hanging by the street, drinking alcohol to a stupor? Who has gone to hospitals to find out why high blood pressures are on the rise? Are the solutions to worries and fear material things only? Why have many people committed suicide over what others consider to no- big deal? Are we just looking at a hapless man who wants to take his life or the people he will put in a problem upon his accelerated demise?
The imperativeness of advocating for all citizens to be patriotic is the same imperative of making them happy and see hope even though the situation on the grounds suggest otherwise. Fear technically known by psychologists as phobia is responsible for the pervasive nature of poverty and domination, for instance, it is responsible for massive economic and financial crimes, greed, armed robbery in our country etc today The Happiness Project shall be executed through the National Orientation Agency (NOA). It will recruit motivational speakers, youth volunteers shall be trained as mentors; sponsor free books, audio. Psychologists, sociologists are deployed to focus on the family, social groups like clubs, age-grade, religious organisations, trade organisations s etc., foundation schools and high schools. physical and virtual clinics shall be established around the country to deliver psychosocial therapies for people.. This project is expected to achieve 20 million new patriots yearly. People who ridiculed the Ministry of Happiness project in Imo State by now should agree that former Governor Rochas Okorocha saw ahead of time on the project. Just a sound strategy was needed to deliver the vision with specific deliverables and timelines. This is very critical to our national goals of peace, integration and economic transformation. The Nigerian project needs the Ministry of Happiness now -very urgent and imperative -if we must live beyond 2023 General elections, current insecurities, massive poverty; already fanned ambers of regionalism and ethnicity.
7. Interreligious Studies: Our universities, polytechnics, and colleges of higher learning shall, as a matter of urgency, make Interreligious Studies a mandatory course for every student to graduate. This is to foster and promote Inter-religious tolerance. We have lost a lot of youths to religious intolerance
The above are highlights of specific plans to transform the country through youth empowerment. Our quest for physical, social and economic development will undoubtedly be catalysed if all the identified issues are addressed. The youthful Kogi State Executive Council members have to take note that youthfulness without energies, capacities and the will to galvanise the common good of the people, is mere social group solidarity like “na we we”. I hope Governor Yahaya Bello and Chief Edward Onoja make a difference in the ideal direction as the “New Direction”. “Charity begins at home”
#nottooyoungtorule #PovertyAlleviation #YouthUnemployment