By Aliyu Musa
Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world — with its youths covering a huge percentage of its population. This is a huge potential for the country. And adequately empowering the youths with the proper leadership and nation-building skills will go a long way in positively changing the odds of our nation and catalyzing the emergence of a renewed state.
The world is changing at the most rapid pace ever, and young men and women are the best set of people that can adapt to this change and leverage the opportunities these changes offer. For one to proffer a solution to any challenge, one needs passion, strength, capacity, and knowledge could with mentorship or guidance. Isaac Newton, the greatest mathematician and the most influential of all scientists of all time, said: ‘If I have seen a little further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of the giants.’ Also, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Sule, Nigeria’s permanent representative in the United Nations, while granting an interview on Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary said: ‘The best organization in the world is a combination of the old and the new. You need the maturity, the wisdom and the experience of the old and the dynamism and youthful exuberance.’ These attributes, when merged with the natural exuberance, vibrance, robustness and youthfulness of the youths will breed rapid global and national development that has never been imagined or expected.
Youths are viewed with two lenses. First the positive eyes and the negative ones. Others believe the youths are the custodians of the future. Hence, they deserve better than what they are having today in all points, while some think that the youths are not important enough to be given as little as listening ears, let alone the powers to solve our problems, that they see the youths as the creators of the problems instead. We will not consider this second category, for they prove they aren’t excellent students of history. Mr Ban Ki Moon, the United Nations’s Secretary-General in his 2007 International Youth Day speech said that: ‘It is high time we stopped viewing young people as part of the problem and started cultivating their promise and potential.’ Nigerian youths have their homemade testimonies as well.
Nigerian youths are recognized as vigorous, enthusiastic, and energetic. They are full of untapped potentials and unzipped reservoirs of knowledge and ideas. They have these qualities despite being vulnerable because of the rapid change they go through, usually unfavourable ones.
Many Nigerian youths have proven themselves effective, capable and up to tasks given to them. Both locally and globally. We have Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development, a young man who’s leading a social transparency accountability network of young men. His team has saved Nigeria 3.5 million USD in 2019 alone. He declined a 100 million Naira bribe for a project he was tracking through his Follow The Money initiative. This is just a single young man in the civic space. We have hundreds of others.
The advocacy for youth inclusiveness in governance and decision-making processes has been extensive in recent years. Despite these campaigns and movements, seeing youths at the helm of leadership is yet to see the light of the day. Because they (the youths) are yet to be well represented in governance, the old folks are yet to give them the trust and support they need to use the tenacious, burning passion of development and progress in them. A good number of the youths must have gotten the calculation wrong. One doesn’t just call for change and progress, one works for them. The campaigns should focus on walking the talk.
Our youths should change from being merely desperate for leadership to being uncompromisingly thirsty for leadership skills and knowledge. They should work on grooming themselves with enough leadership capacity, awaiting them eventually. Attend as many leadership workshops and seminars as possible. Getting a mentor for leadership is a skill and one gets better as any skill with practice and the guidance of a coach. Look for as much leadership fellowship trainings and apply for voluntary positions in your field of choice as possible, even if doing so will cost you your resources, they are worth that, for they are the best vegetative lands that you’ll sow your seeds of growth to have the bumper harvest of the skills you’ll need to feed your hunger and quest of development.
The 21st century is characterized by a lot of distractions, thus, focus has become a hurricane task to the young chaps. Youths, rather debate on controversial trends of no value than to discuss progressive ideas. They had rather debated on the flamboyant lifestyle of celebrities than to work on trailing to become one. Social media has made it easier for us to meet our mentors, role models and like minds. Using that opportunity will boost one’s capacity and skills. For today, one’s network is one’s net worth.
As previously pointed in this piece, Nigerian youths are commonly energetic and enthusiastic. There’s nothing wrong with them naturally. These positive features will not give the desired results without the youths getting the proper platforms and guides. Sadly, the youths are deprived of these privileges by those on the higher echelons. So, they should be empowered with the right amount of skills, proper doses of mentorship, and specified platforms. Until then, the population of youths that this country has will be of no significance to us.
Nigerian youths are the element and agents of change for the emergence of a new Nigeria. They should be treated as the custodians of the nation’s future that they truly are and as the trustees of posterity that they are. Until then, our vision of a new Nigeria will be a mere dream. I believe the emergence of a New Nigeria is achievable with youths at the forefront.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily