It is International Youth Day 2014. A day set aside to discuss youth related issues through dialogue, conversation building among other channel. Africa is expected to produce the largest population in no distance time . This is based on United Nations’ estimation and forecast. If this comes to pass, Nigeria may likely take the lead in this population explosion. Yet as at today, there appears to be no concrete evidence to show Nigeria is prepared for the ‘Population explosion bomb’ which will make a lot of demands and requires several policy changes.
Infrastructures are at best nothing to write home about. The youth population in Nigeria cannot gain admission to higher colleges/Universities. Many with prerequisite qualifications for admission into Nigerian Universities are been turned down in hundreds of Thousands every year because there is no space for them. Very few adolescents in Nigeria today are fully fulfilled. Some will have to wait for two to three years before they can move ahead in their pursuit of education.
Thousands of those who made it to the Universities and who are able complete their studies have no hope of getting any meaningful employment. Those who can and have the means will re enrol for Master’s degree so they do not become stale or frustrated. In fact the compulsory one year national service after undergraduate degree known as National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is dubbed as ‘Now Your Suffering Continues’. It is obvious many Nigerian youths are now in a serious dilemma, a situation where living holds no future. Where everything is now based on luck and not proper policy plan that can give them a glimpse of hope. Many of them are frustrated and are living in pitiable, terrible conditions. In the midst of these, they keep seeing leaders who live in opulence. Leaders who live large in the midst of majority abject poverty.
Many of the leaders do not show any level of modesty. Neither are they role models to follow. It appears, many of the millenias are even doomed from childhood. Unlike before when parents create time to nurtured and model good character in the young ones, most of their parents are now saddled with need to search for income driven enterprise which can compliment what the husband is bringing in. Mothers who used to be there for the kids before are also in one career or the other which are often demanding like the man of the house. In some instances, most females are turning into bread winners especially in urban centres. House helps/maids are now in charge of raising kids, preparing them for the future while parents often come back home late every working days. In Nigeria of today, it is not uncommon to still find parents still funding their children expenses at the thirty years of age because the guy has no means. With this, it is obvious future employability may be compromised for many of the Nigerian youths. On the job experience, skill building will not be there. The possibility of this may become a serious economic burden on the family, state and Federal government at large.
In addition, the is a possibility of low self esteem issue for most young adults. Unlike their advanced world counterparts who have inbuilt, trained ‘self esteem explosion’ facing their peers and colleagues who are considered to have gone ahead in life become a great concern. This we have observed in many university Alumni associations. Many do not want to show up in such meetings when they compared their progress to old school mates.
There Is also high probability of ‘deskilling’ because most of the skills become dull, rotten after a long while of being out of use. In few instances, some of these youths may suffer from mental health related issues. This does not mean they become totally insane but depression may set in among other mental health related issues.
It is also obvious from the above that National development will be hampered. Since youths will be leading tomorrow when the crops of the present over 60 years who had remained in power since independence are long gone. What is the hope of Nigeria if majority of the average youth we have today become leader? Either through politics, which seems the easiest route, or through ‘paper qualifications’ which we seem to place high premium on for now.
If Nigeria must survive, there is urgent need for value re – orientation from what we have today where the end, whether crooked or straight, justifies the means? People with great values must stand up from behind the scene and become mentors for this generations of youth we have. Ask any Nigeria what is our national vision or value systems, many do not know. Leadership must cast new vision for this generation and be serious, committed to this. Enough of great paper documentation of strong vision that is not backed up with strategic action steps. Nigerian Leaders with vision must not allow personal gain of re-election into the office to become paramount by engaging in building ‘stomach infrastructure’. A new vocabulary in Nigeria political lexicon which means give to the electorates a peanut they need now so you can destroy their future through embezzlement when you are re- elected.
In education, there is also urgent need for change in Policy framework. A case where we focus on academic qualification over tangible experience in service delivery needs urgent re-evaluation. While we keep deceiving ourselves on paper, we can see behind the curtain how employers treat University graduates and their counterparts from Polytechnics and other vocational study centres. A future not prepared for will be a generation wasted.
With the level of technocrats Nigeria have all over the world, many wonder why this country is still where it is today. A nation considered around 1975 as one of the world’s future super powers is now in disarray. We have a new opportunity in choosing what we want to be. It can still be done within twenty years. We have examples in United Arab Emirate (Dubai). Nigeria, it is your turn. As youth though, we can initiate the change by refusing to be part of this present corrupt system, work hard with other future minded group to bring the change. It is over to us.