Friday, April 29, 2005
The laudable decision of the present administration in
convening the National Political Reform Conference, affords Nigerians
yet another opportunity to come together and negotiate a new Nigeria of
our dream. It would therefore be tantamount to another squandered
opportunity if we do not sit together and take a critical and in-depth
look into the social and political malaise that has retarded our growth
and hindered our development as a great nation.
Permit us to state critically without fear of
contradiction that the overall success of this all important talk-shop
cannot be guaranteed, without a radical appraisal of the travails of the
Nigerian youth. We must never fail to recognize and have at the back of
our minds that any constitution which does not seek to adequately
guarantee the development and well being of her youths is manifestly
defective; as the youth constitute the most important segment of the
Nigerian populace by virtue of its size and the fact that they are the
future leaders of this country. It is therefore as a matter of fact that
any constitution which does not seek to adequately guarantee the
development and wail being of her youth is manifestly defective; as the
youths constitute the bulwark of the developmental capabilities of any
country. Previous constitutions of Nigeria have failed to address this
critical aspect, and where they have attempted to formulate youth
developmental policies, the implementation has been usually haphazard on
the one hand or at best half-hearted on the other hand.
A well articulated and practical policy will therefore
not only see to the development of Nigeria’s future, but may also serve
as a panacea to a host of youthfully motivated societal ills. For
example, armed robbery, use of drugs and drug peddling, prostitution,
cultism and financial crimes amongst a host of others. A well motivated
and carefully implemented Youth Policy will ensure a decline of these
vices, whilst guaranteeing that the immense productive energies of the
youth are carefully channeled towards programmes that would impact
positively on the advancement of our country and the self actualization
of the youth. We must always bear in mind the old proverbial adage that
"an idle mind is the devils workshop".
A well motivated youth is one who sees a rare hope in
his country. A youth should witness a more cohesive and united country
as a sine qua non to a peaceful and stable polity, where freedom to
life, speech and pursuit of happiness is a prerequisite to hard work.
A motivated youth is one that looks forward to a
corruption free and transparent government which guarantees equal
opportunities for all, and ensuring that the right to the selection of
leaders lay in the hands of the populace by eradicating fraud, while
providing for the total independence of the Judiciary in order to ensure
fair administration of Justice. We demand as a right, a government which
lives up to its social responsibilities of the provision of the basic
amenities of life such as good road, affordable healthcare, qualitative
and affordable education, affordable communication, a genuine approach
to poverty alleviation.
As a consequence of the afore-mentioned, government
must have a deliberate policy for Youth Empowerment through amendments
to the constitution in the areas of electoral reforms to ensure greater
youth participation in governance. These include, but not limited to,
lowering of age requirements for participation in organs of government;
e.g. Legislative and Executive branch elections. Quotas should be
provided to encourage youth women and the physically challenged.
Legislation must be put in place to curb the indiscriminate and
unlimited use of money during elections as a means of creating
opportunities for youth participation in elective offices, whilst
ensuring that money is not unduly used to engage youths in conducts
which subvert the electoral process.
Reforms in our educational policy should be embarked
upon to make our institutions, Centres of Excellence, thereby ensuring
the best education for our youths by the provision of adequate and
modern facilities and a conducive and clean environment. This will
provide for a balanced life end will hasten opportunities for fast
employment upon completion of tertiary education.
A re-orientation of our moral values should be
incorporated in our educational system from primary to tertiary
institutions to inculcate in our youth a high and acceptable standard of
behaviour, at the same time, placing a check on the twin menace of
cultism, use and peddling of drugs in our academic environment.
Consideration may be given to the introduction of Campus Police whose
primary assignment would be to tackle these vices in institutions of
higher learning. The creation of Technological Schools, well equipped in
every state will ensure the training of skilled manpower, which should
be geared towards the facilitation of self employment. Affordable
education and scholarships should be provided to give equal
opportunities to the less privileged.
Sports development should be given an added impetus so
as to encourage excellence. A system of adequate reward ought to be
pursued to reward those that excel, given our population; there is no
reason why the best sportsmen and women in Africa and indeed the world
should not be found in Nigeria.
National Youth Service Corps should be strengthened
and made to play the double role of training and educating the youth on
the expectations of society, at the same time be a vehicle in assisting
to find employment opportunities for graduating youths.
A policy to curb prostitution, child trafficking and
use of child labour, should be encouraged, as these activities provide a
conducive atmosphere for the acquisition of very dangerous social vices
which may in turn undermine the security and well being of our Country.
The Nigerian youth deserves access to affordable
medical care. There is no gain saying that good health leads to high
productivity. To this end, our healthcare delivery system must undergo
Our teaching hospitals must be elevated beyond mere
consulting clinics. They must be equipped with the latest equipment to
enable them deliver. It has become imperative to put in place an aids
policy to check the scourge. As a matter of fact, youths between the
ages of 15 — 29 are the ones mostly affected, thereby technically
dealing a heavy blow on the future work force of our country.
Employment is the key to Youth Empowerment; therefore,
a good Job Creation Policy is imperative to ensure that enough jobs are
created yearly to guarantee employment to every youth that is capable of
working. This will discourage brain drain, while encouraging maximum
utilization of our productive capacities for the development of our
country. There are three major reasons why unemployment for the young
can be particularly harmful:
1. Early unemployment in a persons career may
permanently impair his or her future productive capacity;
2. Barriers to employment can block young people in
the passage from adolescence to adulthood, which involves setting up a
household and forming a family;
3. High levels of youth unemployment may at an
aggregate level lead to alienation from society and from democratic
political process which may give rise to social unrest.
It must however be emphasized that the question of
Youth Employment cannot be meaningfully tackled if it is not linked to
community development, enhancement of standards of living and Poverty
Legislation prescribing harsh penalties and punishment
for social vices such as drug use and peddling, cultism, armed robbery,
financial crimes and others must be put in place to serve as a deterrent
on our youth. Conversely, a system of reward for hard work and
excellence in various fields of endeavour, including sports must be put
in place to inspire excellence amongst youth.
A regime of welfare packages including unemployment
benefits, access to scholarships, ability to secure low interest loans
devoid of cumbersome credit requirements should be made available to
Finally, the Ministry of Youth charged with the
formulation and implementation of youth programs and policy initiative
should be given greater impetus to continue to advance the cause of the
youths, and meet the challenges of our ever increasing vibrant youths of
this country. To this end, it is advocated that more resources should be
made available to the Nigeria Youth Organisation to enable it become
more, responsive towards it obligations vis-à-vis the Youth.
In conclusion therefore, the Nigerian Youth must have
a voice and must be given a greater say to contribute In the way he is
governed end allowed to play a greater role in leadership and governance
so that at all times, he is properly equipped to assume the mantle of
leadership, which inevitably must come someday.