According to Webster dictionary, hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. It could be termed as aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design, and much more. There is hope for Nigerian youths because they are very ambitious, resilient, intelligent and rugged. Nigeria has about 182 million people and about 60 percent of the population are youths. What an advantage both to youths and to the nation at large! Nigerian youths have a great opportunity to roll the dice to themselves in terms of political involvement, economic advantage and social promotion of the country.
To all Nigerian youths, both at home and abroad, I would like to affirm you and to let you know that the eyes of the world are on you to turn Nigeria from a developing country to an advanced one. According to President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” For Nigerian youths to have a sustainable hope, they must understand three things: their position, perceptions, and promise.
My father was my icon. He always prayed I would be useful to God, to the country, to our town, Eruwa, and to the family. I did not understand then why he had to place the country before the family, but as I travel around the world, I could see the importance of having a good name. No wonder the Bible says, ‘a good name is better than silver and gold.’ I am proud to be a Nigerian. Making my country proud is making my family proud. One depends on the other. So it has been embedded in me that I have to be useful for God, and to be useful to the nation. I made it a point of duty to help within my capacity to make my community better than I met it, both in the United States of America and in Nigeria.
Nigerian youths are very creative. They must position themselves as dreamers and visionaries, but in order to position themselves, they must first build. By nature, human beings are builders. We build cities, families and relationships. To build anything in life, it is imperative to have a design. We have to consider the needed materials and how long it will take to build, which is the time frame. While Rome was not built in a day, it did not take forever to build Rome either. There must be a blue print that a builder should follow. Your blue print is your passion. What do you like to do? What keeps on coming to your mind constantly in terms of what you can do to make life better for someone else? Find out who has done what you are passionate about. How did they succeed, or what made them fail? Evaluate the cost of it. Is it worth dying for? Weigh the cost versus value. Will this cost more than its worth? Gone are the days when having college education means having a white collar job.
In 1960, South Korea was one of the poorest nations on earth. Today, South Korea is one of the wealthiest countries. How did it happen? The educational success of present day South Korea is not a matter of curriculum and educational technique only, but how education is embedded in the fabric of the Korean society, and this is a great lesson that any developing country should emulate. The educational system in South Korea does not simply reflect a practical need to train an efficient work force; rather, the education tends to define “self” in relationship to the groups — family, lineage, and nation.” If Nigerian youths can believe that their position is to help revitalise the economy of the nation by what they can do to help the whole group instead of accumulation of wealth for their own benefits, or for the benefit of their immediate family, then there is hope for them.
The second thing I want to highlight is the perceptions of our youths about the nation and about themselves. If the whole world believes in you and you do not believe in yourself, it amounts to nothing. Many Nigerian youths run away from the country because of poor management of resources by our corrupt leaders. However, what the youth do not understand is that they are in better position to turn things around. He who has the pipe dictates the tune. The youth should perceive themselves as being able to dictate the tune. Do you perceive yourself as an element of change or not? If you are not a part of solution, you are definitely a part of the problem. Standing aloof and condemning the government is not the solution. Do you get involved in governance?
President Barack Obama, a man of purpose, who turned down a higher paying job because he wanted to help a poor community in Chicago, is a good example. He strategically-positioned himself for the opportunity to locate him one day. Nigeria has issues with electricity. There are dams that youths can pull resources and talents together to build in other to solve the problem of electricity in the country. During the great depression in the United States, when people were killing themselves because they had lost hope of recovering from their loses, Mr. Hendson Ford, against all odds, started an automobile company. He decided that every man — rich or poor — should be able to own an automobile, and that decision dropped the cost of the automobile significantly. Mr. Ford had interest in mechanical engineering while he was in school, he married his passion with his ability and when opportunity arose, it collided with his passion. He did not wait for government to do things for him; he rather helped the government by providing jobs for the people, which in return, helped the economy of the country.
Can you get involve without being paid? If you cannot serve others, you cannot serve yourself. Considering a right material for building a structure is paramount. What type of material are you? Are you the material that will solidify the structure, or the one that will burn the structure down? What type of people do you move with? Birds of the same feather flock together. As a youth, you have a better chance if you move with people of like minds. Nigeria is a land that you can sow your talent and your resources.
In conclusion, the hope of Nigerian youths lies in having 100 per cent literacy, which would enable them to position themselves for opportunities. Also, youths should perceive themselves as the hope of the country, and they need to see the country as a promising land.
•Olagunju sent the piece from New York, USA.
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