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By Wale Odunsi

It is a truism that today's youths are tomorrow leaders; this fact is unequivocal. Overtime, we have proven to be an efficient tool and an integral part of any (serious) nation. The physical and intellectual dexterity we possess can never be overlooked. To buttress this, analysts say that the productivity of a nation depends largely on its youth. However, here in Africa, it has been a case of bitter tales; deplorable events suggests fait accompli. While counterparts in the developed world can boast of enormous opportunities and facilities to aid, we curiously lag. Our leaders have shown little political will to pivot the abysmal lot. If you are reading this piece and hold a dissimilar view, it is either you have lived all your life in the diaspora or purely naive.

It was Napoleon Bonaparte who said “a leader is a dealer in hope”. Obviously, this postulation almost do not ascribe to leaders in this part of the world as most do not square retailers of hope. Their common myopia, rascality and sit-tight syndrome are some of the scary idiosyncrasies that has brought us to this level of little cognizance in the comity of nations. Not many will argue that 'third world countries' as we are often regarded, live in anguish and in some cases abject poverty even in the midst of abundance. Most erstwhile regimes in Africa failed to put in place solid youth development-oriented initiatives that would have freed us the ostensible shackles. Graft, bigotry, disdain, lack of zeal and clear-cut vision continue to hamper successive governments from vigorously pursuing/achieving laudable programmes.

The enduring aspiration of the African youth is facing up to adverse circumstances instead of waiting for a miracle to change the situation. We are not unaware that the needed solutions will not just drop from high heavens. But the question is: Do we have the enabling environment? Indeed it is an ignominy that many decades after gaining independence from colonial masters, the continent at this time and age is battling with basic social amenities and infrastructures! Till now, albeit human resources and natural blessings abound, countries record unappealing gross domestic product statistics. Uncertainty pervades good standard of living; the battle against killer-diseases is yet won despite grants/aids from donor countries/agencies; inflation rate soar at will; access to equity, fairness and justice still a daydream; alarming index of unemployment; concept of self-dependence gradually erasing; dismal performance of undergraduates/graduates. Er, need say more? It is pathetic that all pointers give cause for worry. What manner of governments would not know that a penurious youth foretells catastrophe!

The current circumstance seem helpless but not hopeless. Our leaders can redeem their image (if they find congenial) by displaying more purposefulness and determination in the discharge of governance. The first step is the immediate convocation of an African Union convention with special and unflinching attention to the youth. A charter must be put in place where the rights of the African Youth must be distinctly spelt out. A follow up to this should be that all member-countries as a matter of urgency, include content of the charter in their constitutions while individuals with impressive tracks and impeccable character be appointed to manage ministries and agenicies overseeing youth affairs.

Ideally, the recommendation by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that twenty-six percent of countries' annual budget be devoted to education ought to be respected in view of the fact that it seeks to improve quality formal education. It is not only mind-boggling but also dispiriting that authorities flouts the directive; an apparent contempt and flagrant impunity despite being signatories. This is not unexpected since their wards get the best education in western countries to the chagrin of the citizenry and detriment of their nations at large.

Decidedly, the cankerworm that has eating deep into the fabric of our society-corruption-is worth and must be included in the list of crimes against humanity. The reason is not far-fetched. Stealing public funds which is the norm theses days, amounts to denying the people whom the looted monies are meant for, the right to a better living. Already, a pressure group in Nigeria, CEASE CORRUPTION (CC) has initiated the move. It is imperative to send a stern signal to the ruling class that they cannot eat their cake and have it. The world-body will do the youth a great justice by seeing that this clarion call sees light of the day. The time to halt executive brigandage and lawlessness is now!

Lastly, double-efforts must be geared towards enusring the right policies are implemented lest the 'bright future' we yearn for turn a pipe-dream. To be a force to reckon with, it will take more than the usual earth-shaking prayers and ample good luck wishes to better our fortune. What is expected is a conscious but genuine resolute to confront the current challenges headlong. The youth on the other hand must ensure Bertrand Russell's philosophy that “extreme hopes should be the response to extreme misery”. Hence, we must never give up. If and only if we get our acts right, it is feasible that African countries will in the near future emerge as world powers.

God knows everybody but not all of us he (God) will make known to the world.
By: Kyei-Afrifa Ma Germ