Youths as future leaders of tomorrow: Are we there yet?

(By Kolapo Abidemi)

The Nigerian government is still using antiquated approaches that are antithetical to the principles of sustainable development as regard the policy affecting the youths. The National confab which comprises recycled crops of aging politicians whose interests are not predicated on issues affecting the Nigerian youths have further substantiated this fact. The confab should have been youth centred, providing avenue of expression and civic engagement.

IF we recall the popular catch-phrase: ‘Youths are the future leaders of tomorrow ‘ made by our leaders of yesterday who are still voraciously clinging on to the baton of power, we wonder when exactly is the future going to arrive for the youths. Unfortunately, this has robbed the youths of their potential, their ability and responsibility to be the leaders of today, thus subjecting them to a state of passivity, ineptitude and gross irresponsibility towards promoting national growth and productivity.

  The fundamental component and major investment of society that remains underutilised and neglected are the youths. It is the youths who are the bedrock for effective and sustainable development. Young people are in the critical and uninhibited process of learning and inventing, therefore if they are given incarnate responsibility, they will accept the challenge and will be a driving force in making a progressive impact in our economy.

  In this present day and age, a typical Nigerian youth seem to have discarded the core values and principles of moral dignity, intellectual pursuits of excellence and the need to integrate themselves in the collective responsibility towards national development.

   In my days as a youth corps member, I went with zeal to make a long lasting impact in the place of my primary assignment but I was shocked to see the youths frustrating all efforts to welcome change and progress. Majority prefer to tread the path of shame and dishonour by engaging themselves in inglorious vices such as oil bunkering, pipeline vandalisation, kidnapping, political thuggery, prostitution, etc. I was also shocked to see the youths being taught ‘Olumba Olumba ‘ in a Christian religious class. Are these the future leaders of tomorrow?

   The national youth development policy (2001, P.1) asserts that ‘‘Youths are the foundation of a society. Their energies, inventiveness, character and orientation define the pace of development and security of a nation. Through their creative talents and labour power, a nation makes giant strides in economic development and socio-political attainment. In their dreams and hopes, a nation founds her motivation on their energies; she builds her vitality and purpose. And because of their dreams and aspiration, the future of a nation is assured.’’

  Conversely, with the high level of indiscipline, religious extremism, ethnic jingoism, political shenanigan and other vices being displayed by our youths who are considered the future leaders of tomorrow, is the future of our great nation not at stake?

  Unemployment in Nigeria today has become every youth nightmare. It is no longer about going to school and graduating or learning a trade, but about how to face the reality of graduating and joining the brigade of the unemployed youths.

   The Nigerian government is still using antiquated approaches that are antithetical to the principles of sustainable development as regard the policy affecting the youths. The National confab which comprises recycled crops of aging politicians whose interests are not predicated on issues affecting the Nigerian youths have further substantiated this fact. The confab should have been youth centred, providing avenue of expression and civic engagement. There seem to be a new face of emerging challenges seriously affecting the youths and this may cause a drift to anarchy if the government refuses to beam the searchlight on issues affecting the youths.

   The government in advanced countries has placed high priority on matters regarding the welfare of their youths and their policy has in some way positively affected the young people by institutionalising many youth centered organisations primarily focused on reflecting the views and serving the needs of the young people. They provide a space where young people can organise for action to meet community needs and experience group processes, strengthening youth vigilance in combating corruption through advocacy and networking.

  Our youths should begin to view themselves as the leaders of today capable of creating incremental changes by making their ambitious ideas a reality today rather than waiting for the future. The Nigerian youths should begin to embark on a transformational process by creating a political paradigm shift strong enough to sweep away our aged economic predators through unrestricted creativity, inspirited action and ardent activism. The future begins now!

Dr Abidemi wrote from Kots Integrated Services, Lagos. bideklink@yahoo.com

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