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Nigerian Youths and Nation Building:
It is often said, “A nation that persecutes her youths destroys her future”. This is highly indisputable because today’s youths are the leaders of tomorrow; our contemporary world believes so much in youths because they are tomorrow’s leaders.The youthful period is the age of adventure, discovery and unlimited possibilities. It thus sustains substantial hope for the future; it could also be an age of destruction if the human negative tendencies are not controlled.
The survival of a nation depends greatly on her youths as they ensure the continued existence of such a nation. As such, in building a nation, the role and place of youth cannot be underestimated. Neglect to the youth and their role is moving towards destruction. Nigeria, a nation of over 120 a million, the individual is blessed and talented, energetic, innovative and resourceful youths, capable of making an unquantifiable contribution toward transforming and building a strong nation.
In making a particular nation great, there are a lot of task and challenges that the youth of such a nation have to face. The Nigerian Nation more than ever before needs to be committed, fearless and vibrant Youth to salvage it from the precarious situation its elders had led it to. With the existence of activists such as Gani Fawehinmi, Festus Iyayi and the likes coupled with the collapse of potent students unionism and the absence of organised civil society, the ruling class is pontificating on the destiny of the whole Nation with impunity and unabated. Hence, no secure future for the ever increasing population of the Nigeria Youth. If the situation will change the Youth will have to be active in various fora they may find themselves.
They have to face these challenges neither because they constitute the majority nor because they have the wherewithal. This is only because children of a nation are not naturally developed to the stage of facing such tasks and challenges. The adult, on the other hand, has reached a stage where they are variously committed to so many causes that may not make it easy for them to channel the remaining energies in them towards attaining a national objective.
1.Youthful period: A stage that constitutes the determinant factor of life:
Through every stage of life has its predicaments that of the youthful period is more. The youthful period is a stage that constitutes the determinant factor of man’s lot in life. In other words, it is one where man becomes the architect of either his fortunes or misfortunes. It is chiefly marked or characterised with vigour, vibrancy, strength and liveliness. Though it is a bundle of favourable qualities, these values, however, could easily be abused if the youth fails to harness them properly. The failure to adequately explore these golden values of the youthful period is due to the “quick answer” tendency, which is the major thorn embodied in this period. This destructive tendency frustrates or deprives the youth of the strong will to endure or put up with stresses that must necessarily be encountered on the path to success. In effect, the youth may seek consolation in what he perceives as a short cut to success.
However, experience has shown that those sweet means that offer immediate or quick consolation give only pleasure but not joy or momentary excitement and not lasting joy. It is only those who with patience and endurance put up with the challenges, afflictions, failures, stresses, sorrows and woes encountered as youths on their way to the greatness that emerge winners. This is true indeed, for winners never quit and the quitter.s never win. Above all, God never promised us easiness all through: instead, he pledged to assist us to make the best out of the roughness of life.
2. . The roles of parents in building up the youths:
The roles of parents are many among them are the followings;
i.Parents are the first teacher:
Parents are the first teacher; they are the ones who gave birth to the youths, so their role is indisputable. Parents are supposed to teach the youths about the values in our culture, the values in our faith, in our families, the values in moral life and in all things.
ii. Parents are to caution their children against peer group:
Parents are supposed to caution their children and bring them up in such a way that they will not be used to cause violence, disturbances, as robbers, assassins or even as sex workers. But in a situation where parents themselves are not responsible, what will become of their wards? Today’s youths want to be led by example. Youths want to see you do as you ask them to do. Action speaks louder than voice, so, parents must be good examples to their wards
3.To explore the relevance of youth in nation building:
The followings are the factors that determined the relevance of youths in nation building;
i. Good educational policy:
The process of building a nation cut across different spheres of human life like education, economy, politics, sports and many others aspect of life oriented; toward raising a comfortable, formidable society. To explore the relevance of youth in nation building, one cannot but examine the different sphere of human life in relevance to their effect on youths. I believe with good educational policy, this will help both the youths and their nation in a long way of their developments.
ii. Encouragement of youths intellectual development:
By all standards, the youth of a nation are naturally set more than the other two age cadres in performing the task of nation building. For instance, adolescents are at a stage of accelerated intellectual development, which makes it easy for them to quickly grasp abstract ideas and easily imagine ideas and concepts. With this endowment, there is a lot that could be done to develop them academically and creatively. Since a nation needs to develop its citizens to be able to profit immensely from the existing resources in her domain, the need then arises that nation catches her citizens young so as to be able to nurture them for future greatness.
Apart from this, the youth have the opportunity of acquiring as much knowledge as could enable them to become familiar with their environment, and skills and competence of adapting the available resources in their domain for personal and general use. This is why it is important that they join hands together in waging war against examination malpractices and all forms of crimes in our educational institution.
iii. Promoting Self-reliance and non-dependent of the youth:
If a nation develops her citizens to the extent of being able to harness the available material resources in her territory, desired social change and economic emancipation will be possible in such a country. Youth and adolescents of a nation are expected to participate in any project worthy of increasing the economic development of their country. This they do by engaging in a particular career, which can enhance the economic progress of the country as well as be promoting their own self-reliance and non-dependence on others for their livelihood.
4.The roles youths in nation building:
The roles of youths in the present situation of our country are many among them are the followings;
i. Youth are to play the role of the "eye" and "ear" of the government:
Youth and adolescents are expected to play the role of the “eye” and “ear” of the government, as was the case of the Young African Pioneers of Nkrumah’s Ghana. The main role played by the youth was to glorify the activities of the government. They did not in any way stain the image of the country; neither did they in any way bring disrepute to their country, Ghana. Rather, one of their cardinal objectives was to strive for the well-being of their country by developing a wholesome personality, reporting any threat to the government no matter how small or insignificant, standing clear of any corrupt practices as well as desiring the best for their country. These are some of the roles that today’s youth/adolescent need to play in order to lift Nigeria above on to the pedestal.
ii.Youth should play the role of guarding the integrity of their country:
One other role that the youth of a country should play is jealously guarding the integrity of their fatherland. For example, they should pay their tax and engage in the development of their community. They should serve as the ambassadors of their country through their utterances and deeds. By so doing, they obey the laws of their country, adjust to its social norms, strive for their country’s well-being and should be ready to serve in any capacity as long as they have the ability to do so.
iii. Youth should not engage in such activities that can detribalize the entire Country:
Youth are expected to play roles in any structural set-up. For example, Nigeria youth can engage in such activities as would detribalize the entire country. This they can do by engaging in objective political activities, which is devoid of any petty jealousy or ethnic chauvinism. They should champion the cause of a united Nigeria and prevent its disintegration as being clamoured by some Nigerians and already predicted be a section of the International community. Youth are expected to perform is to lead the creative and productive life so as to give the nation her rightful place in the scheme of technological development among other nations.
iv. Youth should face the task in rubbing the Nigeria clean of the entire smear:
Nigerian youth of today have a gigantic task to face in rubbing the country clean of the entire smear with which it is already stained. Added to this is the fact that Nigerian youth have a significant role to play in defending the territorial integrity of the country by being vigilant, reporting all signs of the threat to the nation’s security and being ready to go to war anytime the need arises for the country to do so.
v. Nigerian youths must not be the consumer of ideas; they are expected to be able to produce creative ideas:
By virtue of their training, every Nigerian youth must not be a consumer of ideas. Rather, they are expected to be able to produce creative ideas, creative interactions and creative abilities. Youths and adolescents in a country are expected to play the role of “Pressure Group” so as act as checks on excesses of government and its agents. In the recent past credit must be given to the Nigerian Students Unionism in this regard but over zealousness hooliganism and the bane of cultism which characterised students unionism this day had robbed them of this noble role.
5. The challenges facing by the youths and the solutions.
Challenges facing by the youths are many some of them are;
Unemployment is a social conundrum with serious implications on the citizen, family and the society at large. In many third world countries, unemployment is the root cause of myriads of societal ills plaguing these nations. In Nigeria, nearly half of the entire working class population is either unemployed or under-employed. But I believe, even if the government or the private companies do not employ them, they could employ themselves by using their talents.
For instance, a Corps member should think of what to do that is capable of generating money. Likewise, the secondary school graduate could also learn a trade pending the time he/she will be admitted. Whatever trade(s) he/she learn can be useful in the future.
ii. Laziness is another challenge:
Laziness is another problem attending to today’s youth. They are no longer interested in working. Youths don’t’ want to stress themselves any longer. The youths of today have forgotten that “a lazy hand brings poverty” all you hear from them is “people are making it in life, I must also make it”; they want quick and cool money. They now believe that leadership is for fraud, even in the Church, all they want to do is to make money either by fraud or any other means provided they wouldn’t have to work.
iii. Problems of grabbing unproductive:
Other problems are the problems of grabbing, taking, and unproductive and so on. They consume the nation when they are supposed to contribute to nation building.
iv. Ineffective educational policy:
“If you are planning for years, sow rice, if you are planning for a decade sow trees. If you are planning for life time educates a person,” thus says a proverb. Education is of paramount importance in nation building, the fact remains that any nation that neglects the education of her youth is moving toward national collapse. But in Nigeria, our educational sector has been neglected, unfolded, resulting in the frequent strike and prolonged closure of the school. Our teachers are not better than beggars the best of the product of our institutions, those who can do us well are leaving our shore for greener pasture overseas.
The institutions that are supposed to breed youths of intellect, purpose and honour are now a breeding camp for assassins, prostitutes, armed robbers. Under such condition, it is better to talk of national degeneration rather than nation building.
v. Poor governance and management of both human and natural resources:
Talking politics, which deals with proper governance and management of both human and natural resources for the good of the society. By virtue of what it is, politicians ought to be leaders in our society and as such youths should be given a say in politics. But because technocracy is missing in our political dictionary, the old politicians are not willing to introduce youths into the political system. And as a result, new ideas are not flowing in. George Elusion says “wherever intellectual worth is depressed and despised, that society is cursed and wherever the genius of the youth is menaced or constructed that society is doomed.” Nigerian youths are used as thugs and political assassins by a group of bandits who present themselves as politicians. Instead of contributing toward nation building through politics, the youths are being used to destroy the nation and main lives by politicians who ought to have retired to their rooms.
vi. Bad economy situation:
Economically, our great country is progressing from grace to grass as the economy worsens daily. Day in day out more and more companies is folding up. Poverty and starvation lead many to robbery and our young girls are now hawking their bodies for sale or rent age as the case may be. The only things we could show for this is the trophy of having the greatest number of the prostitute in Europe. Under this condition, it is senseless to talk of the positive contribution of Nigerian Youth towards building a society.
1. Youths should learn responsibility and accountability in all their doings. Accountability goes beyond the case of money; youths should be able to give the account of how they use their time, energy, power and their resources, even their talents.
2. They should also differentiate between needs and wants, needs are few but wants are many. And as such, they should take care of their need and forget their wants. Youths should also be very familiar with their faith so that they can excel.
3. However, today’s youths don’t want to be involved in trade and occupations like these just because they are graduates. Therefore, they cannot go to the farm, they cannot learn a trade, they cannot struggle to survive, and so they must be fed. I believe youths should understand the language of time and interprets it appropriately.
4. Youths going into politics should go with good intentions. They should know that they are going in there to better the lots of the people, not to make money. Youths should also know that politics is different from the unionism they practice in school. In fact, the idea of unionism does not help the political situation of our country.
Youth going into politics should have the fear of God, love of their people as well as good intentions. They should not allow people to derail them. They should not go for the money but to give joy and happiness to their people and stabilise our economy
Conclusively in nation building the role of youth is highly indispensable,however, youth are expected to play such roles as highlighted above and , in addition, fervently pursue such goals as establishing meritocracy in the society, acquire the right attitude to the dignity of labour, ensure political stability and promotion of technological advancement, promote economic buoyancy in the society, engender selfless service and harmonious social life.
There should be leadership training for adolescents. This could be achieved through the N.Y.S.C scheme. It is only by effectively performing such roles that a nation could be progressive and her citizens emancipated. In fact, the role any country expects her citizens to play in the affair of the country is multifarious and depends on the national aspirations, objectives and direction of such a country. Where the Nation is vision loss and its leadership egocentric and lack focus its youth should be proactive and prevent the leaders from mortgaging their future.
Jooji Inocent, Perspectives on Socio- political values in Nigeria. Ibadan Daily Graphics Publications, 2006.
A Critical Reflection on Nigeria @50, Enugu Kingley's Publishers,2010.
© 2017 ODEWOYE FRANCIS SUNDAY