Harness youth potential for national development
Recently when Nigerian president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan presented the 2011 budget to the joint session of the National Assembly,he pointed that N50 billion will be directed to tackling unemployment. Swiftly, I thought if that was not just a political statement as usual, it will go a long way combating the greastest evill confronting the youths who are about 60 percent of our total population and would commence the journey of harnessing the young people potential for national development.
Considering the richness of youthful heritage and potentials which have not been adequately harnessned for our national development, the youths who are generally refers to as the people between childhood and adulthood are eligible for some special teatment under the law and throughout the society around the world.
Youth, a period of physical and psychological development from outset of puberty to maturity is the active and productive population of any society. Good learning potential,zeal,energy,ideals and resourcefulness are the specific characteristics of youths. Undoutedly, youths are the “engine room” and “main asset” of the society because they are creative and innovative.
Historically, in all walks of life, young people have utillised their potential to conribute greatly to national development. They are revolutionary tool in all facets of human endeavours. Starting from the pre-colonial era, the youths in the three pre-colonial political system in Nigeria worked assiduously in governing the society.
In Hausa/Fulani political system, youths serves as the law enforcer called police headed by “Dogari”. The Igbo political system recognised the youths much, tagged the “age grade”, they help in village administration, public duties, defence of the village, maintainance of law and order and implementation of policies formulated by the council of elders. “Aremo” a youth in the Yoruba political system assisted Alafin in the administration of Oyo empire and the “Odo” a group of youths also assisted in maintainance of law and order.
At the period of colonialism, youths vigorously helped in resisting colonial domination with thier proto-Nationalism ideology. Formation of National Youth Movement ( NYM) and West Africa Students’ Union (WASU) groomed youths to be political leaders and political agitators which later resulted in independence of 1960.
After the independence, youths participated actively in governance as Lt. Colonel Yakubu Gowon took over the leadership of Nigeria at 27. His administration was significant for preventing Nigeria from tearing apart, creation of more states and universities. General Muritala Ramat Muhammed was also youth when he was ruliing Nigeria.
In the field of science and technology, the young people are not found wanting. In the Federal University of Owerri (FUTO), the students of the department of Mechanical Engineering in 2007 built a car named Formular 1. Some students of recently at University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) built a car exhibited in last few weeks. Also Ayodele Obajeun and two other graduating students of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile Ife in 2009 discovered what could make an end to kerosene expolsion.
These and other unparalled valour of the youths had displayed to make Nigeria a better place to be are just few monumental landmarks of the young people towards the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria. All these achievements are rooted in the youthful cultures of exellence, hardworking, ingenuity, dedication, determination, sincerity and resourcerichness.This is the reason why youths are the backbone behind the development of any great country.
Realising the enormous potential of the young people, the Federal government of Nigeria decided to use the youths specifically the corp members for the forthcoming general election as voters registration personnel and electoral officers. If this large amount of young people are use as election personnel, the strenght they deploy to election rigging and other electoral malpractices act will be diverted to moving this nation foward.
Over the past, Nigerians have sought to build a virile economically developed nation, however, the efforts at development have been complicated by the country’s termendous poverty and uneven distribution of resourecs. To solve these problems, the poeple at the helms of the country’s affiars have been looking outward to the international development partners for solution in form of financial assistance. This as not helped the situation in any way but has compounded our problems.
I think with the rich youthful heritage, we have terrific opportunities ahead of other countries to explore for income generation and translate the generated income into infrastructural facilities through our manpower resources. This would result in several developmental strides that would bring about not only economic development. But what do we do and where do we begin?
To achieve this laudable objective, there must be a heavy investment in youths and youthful activities and the youths should change their attitude towards change.
At first, there is a critical need to find solution to unemployment which had resulted in all sorts of uncultured habit among the young people such as cyber crime (yahoo yahoo), prostitution, kidnapping, armed robbery, political thuggery etc This is because advancement of the youths will have a proportionate effect on our national development. Do I need to remind us that the graduation of the Asian Tigers, particularly China, to developed country was YOUTH DRIVEN?
Having invested heavily in education, we can move to the next stage of competing our youths head to head with their foreign counterpart across the globe. This would include making available research facilities and equipment, provision of basic infrastructure and much on Information and Communication Technology(ICT).
The informal sector which produce artisans and craftsmen should be look into. Centres for youths empowerment and entrepreneurial acquisition skills should be established to train youths in various vocational fields and capital should be made available through financial institution at the end of training to make them small scale entrepreneurs in their own area of interest as the Lagos state government is doing current in some centres in the metropolis because any busy hand will never find solace in restiveness and violence.
Significantly, at the long run, harnessing the youth potential for national development will have colossus impact on the young people which constitute about 60% of our total population. Since these young people are in all facets of living, the effect will be felt in all spheres of our nation and would make Nigeria a place to be as all forms of societal ills will be sent packing and our standard of living will be improved through expatiated development. Remember, youths are the leaders of tomorrow.