Why The Nigerian State Should Value Her Youths


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Why The Nigerian State Should Value Her Youths


Nigeria Youth Organisations

Memorandum To The National Political Reform Conference


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 radical reforms.

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 Alleviation.

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 encourage entrepreneurship.

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.



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