ROLE OF THE YOUTHS IN UNDER-DEVELOPING NIGERIA; THE WAY FORWARD. By Mercy Olajumoke Ipinlaye 500L Law, Bowen University

Before independence in 1960, Nigeria was formerly under the British colony. She became a republic in 1963 and ever since then the leadership of our nation has been administered by basically two major types; the military regime and the civilian administration. Currently, our nation’s leadership is under a civilian administration with President MUHAMMADU BUHARI as the commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with about 156 million citizens in population which keeps increasing every moment a child is born.

It has been over five decades since Nigeria was set free by her colonial masters.However, it has been argued in different quarters that there has just been little or even almost no difference as to the development and growth prior to the independence and now. What we have been experiencing overtime has been the toss of power from one person to another under different political parties and administration both across the state and federal level in the country.

Nigeria has been popularly known and referred to as the giant of Africa but considering the almost stagnant position of our development and growth in major areas and aspect of our economy in relative comparison to other countries that also got independence as almost the same time we did. It is obvious and clear that we are backward and have not achieved major feats compared to other countries.

We know that all fingers are not equal but why should ours be the shortest in the midst of adequate and overflowing natural resources that nature has blessed us with? Major developed countries that have less of the natural resources we have in abundance here are well developed and still growing at very fast rates with suitable and accommodating economy to live in.

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Despite the sufficiency of our resources, it is ironic and saddening that our state of the economy is getting worse day after day. It has gotten to the height of it that our people are deserting the country out of the state of despair and anguish. Trying to look for greener and suitable pasture in other neighbouring countries. In the process, they either get killed or are sold into slavery. As recently seen in Libya where a lot of our countrymen who out of desperation entered illegally into Libya and ended up being auctioned out as slaves even in this era. But should they be blamed for wanting something better when the state of the economy in their home country is nothing to write about?

A lot of people die daily due to the lack of inadequate facilities in hospitals. So many cannot afford a full square meal and many more citizens are without appropriate shelter. Only the rich ones are able to offer their children and wards quality education in private schools. This is because even the quality of education in proclaimed government schools is in a state of horror.

The unavailability of adequate medical health care has helped in increasing the mortality rates in our nation. Many children are always out on the streets during the school hour simply because the fees for their education cannot be afforded by their guardians. Parents who are being owed salaries by the government of the day after so many months of working under the same government. They cast their votes for during the elections; while the government blame their previous predecessors for not having and saving enough funds in the reserve. Even in the midst of plenty, we still lack the basic social amenities which include; food, clothing and shelter.

Factors affecting and deterring the growth and development of Nigeria as a nation is not only limited to the lack basic social amenities or the inadequacies by the government of the day to provide adequate infrastructures instead of embezzling and misappropriating funds meant for the development of the nation and the benefits of the masses. The role of the youths in under-developing Nigeria is another major factor contributing to the slow development of our nation.

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), those who fall under the age bracket of (18-35 years) are regarded as youths. At this age, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that the human strength is always at the peak during this period and such strength is to be utilized.

It is no news that the youths constitute seventy percent (70%) of the country’s population. Yet no single youth within this age bracket is in the rein of affairs. None is manning any major position in the political affairs of the country. Instead many of the youths prefer to be used as political thugs by the older people who are handling the political administration of our country at the cost of the peanut token they are being given at the end of the day.

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While other youths appear to be disinterested in the political affairs of the nation because of the belief that their votes do not count or matter at the end of the day even after they take their time to vote for the right persons of their choice just like what happened during the 1993 general elections of M.K.O ABIOLA. This belief has led to the political apathy we have among our youths today and even among the older people.

Some Nigerian youths seem naturally less concerned about the state of affairs in the country. Especially with things related to nation-building. Some just nurture the belief in their subconscious that there is nothing that can be done to salvage the situation. Thereby, they pretend Nigeria is not their home and follow up on what happens in other foreign countries. Even fighting for the rights of other people in other countries as often seen in on the social media. When the truth is that most people do not even have an idea of what is going on in the country should they be asked or interviewed. We see our youths using various hashtags for situations of other countries when the same is going on in our home country. No one seems to notice or care and either it is noticed and just being neglected because it has not affected our personal lives or families yet.

Another role of the youths in under-developing Nigeria today is the way money is being made through illegal means and criminal ways. The priority of some of the Nigerian youths to is to make money at all possible cost damning all consequences whatever it may be. Every now and then youths are being caught in illegal and criminal acts such as; importing and exportation of hard and prohibited drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and heroine from one country to another just to make money. Some even engage in money rituals thereby killing their fellow humans to make money. Nearly every day, there is always a news report of young people caught with human parts for ritual purposes. Also, some youths also engage in internet fraud, stealing and parting away with people’s money through the use of the internet which is also known as cybercrime.

The over-reliance of the youths in the educational sector is yet another contributory factor in the under-development of the nation. The major belief that once you earn a degree or two and you are well educated, there is no need for vocational jobs as it is considered dirty and meant for those who have never seen the four walls of an institution or had any formal education. This should be considered as a mistaken belief because anyone can take up a vocational job or handwork and develop their personal skills or talents.

The youths are always waiting for a “white collar job”. When they already know that the jobs are unavailable. Even the jobs available are not enough to go round for everyone. The youth consider the “white collar job” as being classy and of the high standard. While a vocational job is being classified as being of the lower standard or even dirty job. The truth of the matter is that in Nigeria today, most people who opt for vocational jobs are getting richer and even more comfortable than those in the actual paid employment jobs.

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We also have the issue of laziness and lackadaisical attitudes among our youths of today. So many young Nigerians who are able-bodied prefer to sit on their houses. Glue their eyes to their television screens to watch movies all through the day. Also, be on their phones chatting and keeping up with things on the internet that are not even profitable to them. When in fact they can acquire skills and earn a living through the internet through legal means. They wait for who to give them money when they can actually work and earn a living for themselves. When they do not get money, they dive into illegal means of making money. They even go as far as damaging the reputation of the country; forgetting that there is still dignity in labour and that being hardworking do not kill.

With everything that has been stated, the only way out is to proffer solutions. Also, look for a way forward to make our nation Nigeria great by finding a means to make it fully developed and stand out with other nations of the world as well. The solution lies in our individual minds and hands. As MAHADMA GANDHI said, a man is but the product of his thought”.

Firstly, the youths should realize that being a political thug to the old political leaders and taking sides with a political party or opponent would not solve the problem of the nation or bring development. It would only cause more chaos and bring about disruption to the peace of the state and the political affairs. If youths desist from being used as political thugs, there would be harmony to a large extent during elections and even after. They should realize that there are no permanent enemies in politics just different interests. Therefore, they should stop allowing themselves to be used for selfish purposes by the older politicians.

Secondly, if the youths want to be involved in the political affairs of the state, they should do it the right way. They should not let making money at all cost be their major priority. As a good citizen, the building and development of the nation should be in their best interests so as to leave behind a legacy for the forthcoming generation. All the youths should be interested in the political affair of the nation not by fighting themselves for political positions. However, by ensuring that they cast their votes for the people that are right and qualified as being in the leadership position and ruling the country efficiently and effectively and not for selfish reasons.

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The youth should also take it as part of their responsibilities to educate and inform people about the need to vote for the right persons. They should instil in them political education and their political rights to vote for the right person of their choice without any form of intimidation. Also, the right to be voted for as long as they comply with the adequate necessary requirements. Those occupying various political offices should ensure they provide and deliver the adequate services and amenities needed by the people. To do things that are necessary for the development and building of the economy.

Lastly, the youths should desist from any form of illegal activities. Activities that bring bad reputation to the country no matter where they may be or find themselves. They should know that they do not have to live in Nigeria before they do things that could cause under-development to the nation. Where ever they are, they should try and do things that will bring about the development of their home country.

Nigerian youths should also acquire vocational skills to develop themselves and the nation.

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