The youths: Yesterday, today and tomorrow (2)

(By Adebayo Ibrahim Razak)

The bright future of any country is always predicated on its youth force. A society with a mirage youth force is not far from an abyss of irreparable damage. It is, therefore, imperative that the government should not wait for a soothsayer before embarking on programme policies that can impact positively on the youths.

Continued from last Friday

Of course Nigeria has had her own fair share of meaningful youth/student activism, political participation and involvement in national development; from 1965 when students of the University of Ibadan barricaded the chambers of the Legislative House in Ibadan in protest against the results of the election won by the NNDP in the Western Region, believed to have been rigged; to 1971 when a student, Adekunle Adepeju, was shot dead by the police while students demonstrated over what they described as deteriorating conditions in their institutions; to 1978 when Segun Okeowo led university students in “Ali Must Go” demonstration demanding the sack of the then education minister, leading to the death of a student, Akintunde Ojo; to the 1989 anti-Sap and 1992 anti-fuel scarcity riots.

   Notably, Nigeria independence from Great Britain in 1960 was a brainchild and a struggle by notable Nigerian youths. These included Sir Herbert Macauley (1864-1946), who founded the Nigerian National Democratic Council (NNDC), Dr. Alvan Ikoku (1900-1971), Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-1996), Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987), Sir Ahmadu Bello (1909-1966), Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (1912-1966), Alhaji Aminu Kano, Mr. Joseph Tarka and Chief Dennis Osadebey.  Centrally, the trio of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Sir Ahmadu Bello would be subject of critical analysis and research.

    The bright future of any country is always predicated on its youth force. A society with a mirage youth force is not far from an abyss of irreparable damage. It is, therefore, imperative that the government should not wait for a soothsayer before embarking on programme policies that can impact positively on the youths. The challenges of the Nigerian youths are many. These have grown into a hydra-headed trouble which, if possible, may require a state of emergency. Nigeria youths are the direct victims of the current moribund economic situation. It is well known that most people involved in criminal activities today fall in the youth age bracket. Apart from unemployment, unfavorable policies and inefficient education system, other challenges the youths face are absence of basic attitude to think and excel and negligible parental guidance.

   There is no doubt that the political independence is essential for the upliftment of a nation, but it is not the end. Much is to be achieved on social and economic fronts. Probably, the political independence was regarded as the ultimate goal. Therefore, the contemporary generation of youths was not given any definite guide-line; with the result that they had no knowledge of their duties towards the society or the nation. To avoid further deterioration of the situation, it is necessary to guide the youths in the right direction, so that they may engage themselves in completing the unfinished process of upliftment of their nation. Thus, empowering young people to become involved in their personal development and that of their nation, and advocating youth development and participation as an integral part of development; mainstreaming youth development and participation throughout the nation’s Ministry of Youths Affairs operations, and promoting inter-organisational partnerships to advance youth development and participation should be on top of any government agenda.

  It is now obvious that the future of Nigeria lies in good leadership and fortunately, those at the helm are, without dispute, young leaders. Good governance, democracy, constitutionalism and nation building are shaped by the quality of a country’s politics. A nation will add a feather to its cap and the process of its development will continue if its ambitious, agile, virile and strong youths are guided in the right direction. The youths are powerful. They are agile and are inclined to work, but for them to achieve results they need proper guidance.

   Arising from the foregoing, it is obvious that after independence the successive generations failed to make decisions on youth involvement for purpose of continuity. The youths themselves must brace up to the present situation and learn the possibilities of life. They must shun violence and the hydra-headed evil of corruption, slothfulness, greed and hatred ethnicity and subscribe to the aphorism that nothing good comes easy.

Concluded.

Razak is the founder, University of Buckingham Africa Society

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