Nigerian youths and the challenges of nation building

By Muhammad Ajah
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Have we suffered in their hand
Because we choose to live on promise?
Pause! Are we not like the sand
In number and worth? Lo let's promise
We can change this land for good!

The youth, no doubt, constitutes the largest percentage in any existing society across the world. Therefore, it is axiomatic that the youth should be the strength of the nation. But this category of the society is associated with several challenges that expose it to be the most turbulent as well as most beautiful part of life.

Most of the problems associated with the success or failure of our youths lie largely with our perception of life itself. Some of our youths feel that life is just as they see it; that means that they cannot affect anything by themselves. Some others feel it is a course where they have to display certain inborn powers and characteristics to attain additional requirements to that which may not just come by itself; that means that they can changes certain things by themselves and still have the original life. The third group feels that ��the earth suffereth violenceā€, thus one must get his own life on the same footing; that means that violence and do-or-die are the surest means to attain a fulfilled, daring and happy life.

The greatest problems that face many of our youths are these: the inability to discover the talents which God has freely given them. There is no gainsaying the fact that God has created every man for a purpose. This inability to discover, earlier enough or lately, the purpose for which they were born, has rendered most of the youths useless or put them in confusion which in turn leads them to tow the wrong path.

Secondly, the inability to develop the talents even when they are discovered is also a great setback to our teeming youth population. Statistics has shown that a large chunk of Nigerian youths are very talented but such talents are unfortunately laid waste.

Two things are responsible: poor background which hinders the youths from establishing on their own, and the societal ill which seems to lockup any direct developmental plans for the youths from federal and state governments. Huge sums of money are said to be spent yearly on youth development, but such monies only end up in the pockets of those entrusted with the jobs and also in press announcements.

Another problem with the youth is their inclination to easy life. Despite the high level of poverty that strikes hard across the youths in the country, a visit to enjoyment spots in the cities or even villages will authenticate this claim. Many of our youths will lavish their paltry savings in clubs and gambling. One becomes dumbfounded to see a mechanic buying ten cartons of beer and such sorts on credit to satisfy an imaginary lust of self esteem and assertion.

There is also the lackadaisical attitude of the wealthy Nigerians to assist the young talented youths for fear of the known and unknown, the known being that the young may become a master and the unknown being only personal to the individual. Some of the wealthy Nigerians have become so miserly that they would only engage the youths in dirty herculean tasks and pay them with intoxicants. I know that in Anambra State, a wealthy man can only attract accolades while boasting among his mates based on the number of youths he has empowered. This is a laudable disposition that is worthy of emulation. It is believed that if half of the wealth in the hands of the Nigerian big shots is invested in the country and especially in the developing towns across the country, the youths will be engaged and thus be changed for good. And on a serious note, if only one-third of our youths are properly engaged, empowered and utilized, the ugly faces of youthful excesses would be buried.

There are ways out of this continuous waste of talents among our youths. First and foremost, let the government at all levels establish effective talent-hunt department to be directly under the Presidency, the governor and the local government chairmen. The National and State Assemblies may enact a law on the operational status of such department. In enacting such law, stiff penalties must be outlined to guard against a situation where the governors and council chairmen will turn the establishment into cultists-gathering venture for re-election purposes. Youths should head such departments and substantial amount be budgeted for its operations. Can't this be given a trial?

That is on the part of the governments. But our youths must brace up to the present situation and learn the possibilities of life. They must shun violence and the hydra-headed devil of corruption, sloth, greed, hatred, tribalism and even complacence. There is a byword that nothing good comes easy. As a believer that life is worth living, they must know that riches, power and all that is good come from God Who often tries men before granting them success. Therefore, God's time is the best.

Moreover, they cannot ignore the fact that not all that glitter is gold. Some of the youths want to be rich overnight without following the due course. They have to embrace the reality that some of those who are seen as great have either suffered before reaching where they are today, or have towed the devilish path which gives them great discomfort and untimely death. Some of them do not sleep in their homes or even enjoy the wealth they have acquired through bloodletting.

Our youths should learn and be encouraged to begin with the little they can. It is the gathering of sands and pebbles that a mountain becomes. Stories abound where men of strong faith and determination began life with very little and gradually climbed to the peak, creating a prosperous family and society within their reach. Being too much in hurry to make fast wealth has often had negative results as one falls into the hands of 419ers some of who are equally the youths.

Some of our youths also seek enjoyment so much that they would lavish any financial opportunity that comes their way. And when such opportunities fail to come any more, they will dire to dine with the devil for it. Why must a Nigerian youth engage in armed robbery, militancy, kidnapping, prostitution, thuggery, and all surmountable vices to seek this transient but luring life? The future of this nation lies in the hands of our youth and the earlier they realize it, the better.

All in all, there are three major things with which a nation can easy develop: knowledge, money and the people, predominated by the youth. In Nigeria, we have them all in abundance. There is money everywhere though there is little properly utilized. There is knowledge everywhere in Nigeria to the extent that due to its underutilization, there is brain drain. Other countries including underdeveloped countries are enjoying the sweat of this great nation. The knowledge tapped, developed and saturated by many Nigerians are being used outside the country. This should stop.

As for our youths, let there be a day created by God Almighty when each will pause and ask what he or she has offered their parents, the society they live in and the nation at large. Nigeria cannot afford to continue to waste its money, knowledge and youths. Together, our youths can build this country even for our posterity. But the leadership has undone them.

Muhammad Ajah wrote from the FCT, Abuja ([email protected], 08055247005)

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