Tunde, (other name with held) a six-foot-tall youngster had all going well for him until he met a friends who indulges in unconventional activities that the society frowns and disapproves of totally. The friend initiated him and they were both neck deep in the intake of drugs from a local dealer who supplies almost the whole of the neighborhood with the illicit substances.
Emeka gained admission to one of Nigeria’s topmost higher institution and his parents and the entire Umudiora community were all proud of their son only for him to join a cult group called Vikings and after a while, a cult war broke out and his life was cut short by a brutal bullet; Emeka a promising youngman who would have taken his community to a greater heights, rather he let them down through nefarious cult activities.
This is the reality of youth development in Nigeria in recent times and it is worrisome that the authorities and religious bodies are not doing enough to sensitise youths on the dangers of peer pressure. This is even more evident with the erosion of values and breakdown of communication between the young ones and their families in most cases not to the negligent nature of parents in reality but because of the economic situation of the nation which has become so tasking that even a 9-5 job hardly guarantees the basic necessities of life.
Nigeria’s youths are the strength of the nation as they represent the total productive force of the economy and the nation’s youth population is growing at a geometric pace.
A lot has been written and said about the level of vices and criminality associated with Nigeria’s youth population. While it is being touted that unemployment which has been a perennial challenge for the nation to manage is said to be one of the reasons why vices and crimes are festering in the polity yet, there are other factors too that have bedeviled the nations youths from achieving the level of successes that their counterparts in many parts of the world have attained. Nowadays, we have youths engaged in electronic fraud popularly known as “Yahoo Yahoo”. In fact, celebrity youths are not left behind in the wire fraud crime.
The case Obi Invictus, Hushpuppy and many others came to mind as one recounts occasions when Nigerian youths have brought opprobrium on the Nigerian nation through the activities of these elements. These aforementioned youths were seen as role models and even Nigeria’s political actors and other notable personalities have related to them only for the truth about the source of their ill-gotten wealth to be exposed and come to think of it, these guys activities were exposed to the world by foreign security and financial intelligent arms of foreign countries thereby tarnishing the already battered image of the country within the comity of nations.
The United Nations and other non-governmental bodies dedicated to global development like USAID, DFID, Norwegian Aid Council, British Council, and the Commonwealth of Nations among others have tried to invest and contribute their quotas to the development of youths in sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria which boost of massive population.
Yet, the effects of these programmes by these global governmental and NGOs are yet to be seen in taking the youths away from vices and crimes. In fact, if anything, the situation is getting worse by the day. The Nigerian political class, educational institutions, religious bodies and parents have a lot of work to do in changing the narratives regarding the issue of Nigerian youths and the propensity to take to crime and drugs consumption.
Starting with the family, it is well known that the economy of the nation is unstable and the quest to keep food on the table has necessitated the absence of parents from their children’s lives. Yet, this is not an excuse for the neglect of these young adults. Parents’ primary duties is that of teaching their wards the values befitting a just society so that such individuals can be an asset to the nation rather than a liability.
The rat-race for financial well-being itself is commendable but in a situation when youths constitute a nuisance to the peace of the nation, then wealth gained from working hard would be washed down the drain because such wealth would be channelled into less productive ventures like beefing security, management of correctional centres and other places like rehabilitation centres in the case of youths who venture into drug usage.
Another place where the issue of the well-being of the youths are to be taken very seriously is the instructions from educational institutions. In the early period of western education history in the nation, the youths of those days channelled their energies into attaining new heights and the results we could see in people like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Zainab Alkhali, Sophie Oluwole, Mabel Segun, Pat Utomi and many others who were beneficiaries of western education in the 1960s, 70s, and to some extent, The 1980s.
The rot that sent education to the doldrums began steadily in the early 1980s and in fact, the book by Eddie Iroh, a former director of programmes with the Nigeria Television Authority wrote a novel on “Expo 77” which explained the erosion of Nigeria’s educational values following leakages of examination questions.
The same goes on in our Ivory Towers. Lecturers who are supposed to be seen as role models solicits sex for grades from female students while for the males, financial favours is the order of the day with the lecturers. The educational sector needs a total restructuring whereby students, lecturers alike would follow the principles of attaining knowledge based on merit and not on things that would demean the sector.
The religious bodies are also complicit in the degrading of values that have led the Nigerian youth astray. While values and religious instructions are important, Nigeria’s many religious centres; traditional, Christian and Islamic centres are complicit here. How? The activities and behaviour of our many religious leaders leaves one confused with their ways of life. Materialism is the order of the day and it is affecting the psyche of the youths that for them to gain respect, acceptability in the society is by becoming rich crime and vice which they would flaunt with the blessings and encouragement of the clergies.
Obi Invictus, who was convicted by US courts was a financial advisor in one of the many new generation churches in Nigeria where the clergy was blind to the source of his wealth but entranced with the fraudster’s ability to “Make it” as a young man, a billionaire before the age of 30 when he actually was destroying people’s lives across the world with his activities.
The political class; Presidency, state and local governments are some of the worst culprits who have helped to lead the youths astray. During elections, the youths, many of whom are jobless, skilled and unskilled are used as political thugs and when they are given weapons to intimidate voters, opposition members, after the elections, these weapons become and are used to terrorise the society. The case of Offa Robbery comes to mind. The robbers were linked to Saraki according to investigations. This has been where the governments of the nation failed the citizens.
What is the result we have today, Nigerian youths instead of greatly developing along with the potentials available to the nation are rather becoming liabilities for a developed society. No wonder Nigerian youths who have the means and opportunities are leaving the country in droves. Those without means but who are ready to leave try to cross illegally through the Sahara Desert into Europe through North Africa and they end up as human guinea-pigs or sex slaves for the females.
The Nigerian political class in recent #Endsars and #LekkiTollGate incidents have just seen a bit of the frustration of Nigerian youths and if something is not done urgently, the nation is sitting on a time bomb that would explode very soon. Boko Haram, banditry would be a child play when Nigerian youths become totally uncontrollable.