By Bemdoo Hulugh
Former Vice President,Atiku Abubakar asked the other day on tweeter that “how can we get more young Nigerians involved in politics?”. With this question,it is obvious that young people have not been very much involved in politics. For me it is not only in
politics,young people are not involved in most aspects of nation building in this country. They are suffering from political,economic and social exclusion.
With our over 80million youth population which is more than the population of South Africa,we have rendered 70% of them jobless. This means 70% of Nigeria’s youth population are suffering from low self-esteem,do not feel accepted by society,may end up not utilising their talent and have a high possibility of ending up in poverty. It is more painful to know that as we leave our youths idle,Japan has embraced robotic sciences to compliment their ageing population. According to a research by the British Council and Harvard School of Public Health,youth and not oil will be Nigeria’s greatest asset by 2030. It is too obvious we can’t move forward as a country unless we address the problem of political,economic and social exclusion of youths in Nigeria.
In this same research by the British Council and Harvard School of Public Health,it was also warned that “If these young people are healthy, well educated, and find productive employment, they could boost the country’s economy and reinvigorate it culturally and politically. If not, they could be a force for instability and social unrest”. This explains the danger that lies ahead. Now we must understand that boko haram,Niger delta militancy,kidnapping,political thuggery and cultism have all come to be because of lack of deliberate efforts to usefully engage young people. This must be taken care of before its too late.
First of all the issue of unemployment must be tackled immediately by formulating and implementing policies that will provide jobs for young people. We should focus on building an economy that will gainfully employ people and not one that is referred to as the biggest economy in Africa with the highest number of unemployed youths. As it stands today,so many young men can’t get married,many young people of more than 30yr are still dependent and nobody seem to care. This cannot continue,a frame work must be put in place to make sure young people are gainfully employed. There is no other alternative.
Secondly,our educational system and most especially tertiary institutions must be repositioned. They must be changed from just certificate awarding institutes to a breeding ground of ideas. In this century we all know that ideas and not certificates rule the world. America today is a great country because of her ability to nurture and attract talents. They nurture talents through their think tanks and universities. Most technologies the world has embraced today are American inventions. While in Nigeria on the other hand,our universities specialise in awarding certificates. It is normal to hear people say they are going through school to be qualified for promotion in their places of work. Overcrowded lecture rooms are now the other of the day as students sit on the floor to receive lectures. It has become a normal thing for primary schools,secondary schools and tertiary institutions to be closed down for up to a year in the name of strike action.This must be treated urgently because for Nigeria’s youth to compete,they must be equipped with sound education. For no country has been able to develop beyond her level of education.
Lastly,we have succeeded in building a society that the opinions of the youths are hardly considered. I remember in the university when our Vice Chancellor will always find it difficult accepting the suggestion of the Student Union because to him they were not old enough to even be his children. I have heard stories where people have been told that a salary scale is too high for them not because of qualification but age. No matter what a youth have to offer in the political space,they are likely to be limited as Personal Assistant(PA),youth leader and some similar positions with little or no responsibility. The system has been structured in such a way that those who may have something to offer are isolated and relegated to the background because they are “too young” and should wait for their time.
Company commanders in the Isreali Armed Forces are 23yr olds who are are in charge of 100 soldiers and 20 officers and sergeants. These kids take responsibility for a territory against terrorist infiltration. But if this was in Nigeria of today many will say they are too young. Jesus Christ died at the age of 33,martin Luther King Jr led the montgomery bus boycott at the age of 26 and died at the age of 39,Franz Fanon wrote his first book “Black skin,White mask” at the age of 27 and died at the age of 36 and our own Chinua Achebe wrote “Things Fall Apart” at the age of 27. The roll call is endless. Excluding or isolating young people in the name of they are ”too young” or “they should wait for their time” is a waste of human resources and Nigeria can’t move forward till the existing problem of youth exclusion is solved.
Bemdoo Hulugh is An Active Citizen,He Writes From Makurdi
You Can Also Interact With Him On Tweeter @bumy04