Nigerian youths
Nigerian Youths

The Role of the Youth in Nation Development

The youths are often referred to as the leaders of tomorrow. This is so because as developing children, they are expected to take over the mantle of leadership from today’s leaders after they have done their bit and then quit the stage. In all fields of endeavour, be it in Administration, Politics, Commerce, Religion, Military, Music, Teaching, Mass Communication, Technology, Navigation, Exploration and Exploitation, Sports and what have you, the youths are needed to serve as the lubricant for wheels of progress.

That is why a country devoid of responsible youths, cannot move forward. As young as they are, they act as catalyst for pragmatic governance. For them, however, to grapple effectively the challenges of the time, they have to remain focused, sift their needs from their wants, set out enviable goals for themselves and work towards them diligently. In realizing their objective, they should be law-abiding and patient in their pursuits. A good number of them, very often, come to harm because they want to rise suddenly in life, trying to use the lift, even when there is none, instead of climbing step-by-step, using the ladder. This ugly tendency has driven them to all sorts of vices, such as armed robbery, kidnapping, impersonation, examination malpractices, rape, cultism, prostitution, drug trafficking, cyber-crimes, et cetera. Youth clubs are good, as they provide healthy grounds for the young people to meet and put their act together and then make useful contributions to the society rather than engaging in unprofitable ventures. Sports clubs are good avenues for youths for realizing a sound mind in a sound body, as advocated by Greek philosophers. There, they achieve fame through active participation in one sport or the other. Religious centres and Youth Fellowship societies can be useful in molding the character of the youths. Thank God that many of them throng usually the places of worship for religious activities. For these places to make positive impact on the young worshippers, however, the shepherds should de-emphasize prosperity messages and highlight such qualities like honesty, humility, obedience, self- control, diligence, et cetera, that make for strength of character. God’s servants should be mindful of the saying, ‘The sermon that is lived is the best preached’. Their conduct should be in consort with their preaching for effective guidance. A situation whereby a servant of God is involved in sexual harassment of his flock, or found guilty of misappropriation of funds belonging to his employers, is a great disservice to God and humanity.

School teachers and university lectures should demonstrate a high sense of commitment and responsibility in shaping the future of the youths. They should not trade their probity and integrity for sexual pleasure with their students. We have, unfortunately, a high number of present-day graduates, who pass through the university without allowing the university to pass through them.

Parents should be role models to their children. In this regard, the maxim, ‘Example is better than precept’, should occupy their thoughts in their deeds and utterances. Unlike the young girls and boys who take delight in wearing revealing dresses, torn-jeans and sagging trousers, mothers in particular, ought to demonstrate more mature and responsible dress sense. They should allow their children to choose their careers rather than choosing for them. After qualifying as a medical doctor, a certain man dumped medicine for accountancy. He is a chartered accountant now and he is excelling at it. Being a doctor was from home, but accountancy was his choice. In any field of endeavour, it is excellence that makes one a star, not his profession.

Our politicians seem not to be helping matters. Some of them employ the youths as thugs during elections and thus expose them to drugs, violence, untimely death, et cetera. It is incredible, how after engaging them in evil practices for achieving political ambitions, they turn round later to tell the world that the Nigerian youths are lazy. In this not-too-young-to-run era, the elders should stop introducing politics to these young ones as a ‘do-or-die’ business, otherwise, it will remain a vicious cycle from generation to generation. The Radio Nigeria slogan, ‘Do not allow yourself to be used to destroy lives, the person using you, will never use his child’, is food for thought for both the young and the old.

Successive governments at all levels, should have plans to empower the youths to be more useful to themselves and to the society. To this end, commercial agriculture should be introduced in replacing the present subsistence farming, which is engaged in mostly by elderly people in the villages. Emphasis should therefore be on mechanized farming so as to attract the interest of the youths who are averse to peasant farming with all its drudgery and meagre resources. The teaching of Practical Science and Technology should be encouraged and made attractive to them as it is through good and adequate knowledge of Science and Technology that we can catch up with the advanced countries of the world.

The five brilliant Nigerian girls from Regina Pacis Modern Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra State, did Nigeria and Africa proud, when they beat several technologically advanced countries to emerge winners of the 2018 edition of the Technovation World Pitch competition in California, USA, in August, this year. Among other feats, their laudable achievement is a confirmation that the Nigerian youths are not lazy. It is also a proof that given enough encouragement, support and motivation, our youths can excel in any international competition, held anywhere.

Town planners should have the youths in mind when developing new towns. In this regard, adequate playing fields should be provided, where children can, at convenient times, go and give full expression to their physical and mental development. The present practice of converting almost every available space to commercial use, turns the youths to the roads and streets where their lives are exposed to danger. Absence of such facilities also tends to limit their horizon.

The youths should be helped to help themselves before they can help in building the nation.

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Chimezie Agwu: mcagwu@gmail.com; 07082882568