NIGERIA, A NATION THAT SUPPRESSES ITS YOUTH - BY CHARLES K. JIDUWAH

I am a bit perturbed that the topic I am about to discuss, is ironically centered around the inclusion of Nigerian youths in politics, and this might be deflected to a meaningless direction if not given a proper consideration which is of utmost necessity.
The idea to pose my keen awareness and observation of political history regarding the marginalization of youths from politics and the overall resentful mood the youths have deeply sunk into cannot be concealed any longer. The silent cries/flaming worries for many years of youth dehumanization are the alarming issues we must address with expedient. We have for years craved for youth inclusion in governance, this has been worryingly ignored. Instead we see evidence of youth displacement and misdirection on the increase.
Paradoxically, the current participation of youths in the political life of the country is meager, as relatively compared on the weighing scale of the early 70s and 80s when youths were in government as ministers, Personal Assistants (PAs), SAs and SSAs to president/governors is left hanging and dangling from a ridiculously precarious height in the balance.

To further express the worries with a throbbing heart, the youth is the very first section of the population to shoulder all the shortcomings of bad governance on the notion that all the political mess of the country bears its impact in the future and the future primarily belongs to the youths. With regards to the magnitude of this issue left burning in the ashtray, it's like the embers of our spirit which despite the marginalization, the political spirit is not entirely depleted.

I am terribly concerned not only about the marginalization of the Nigerian youths but also the otiose activities the youths are primarily involved in. It appears to me that the otiose activities of these same youths are tantamount to suicide in oblivion and that could be seen as a life of non-productivity.

Today, we have a minister for youths who is a man in his 50s, the key question is how he can identify with young ones considering the age difference which cannot be squared up. In Delta state, for example, we had a woman in her early 60's as the commissioner for youths. What I still wonder is how she deals with 21st century issues about youths when she is having fusty and contrasting motherly views. 

These days, when government or politicians muse about youth empowerment and development, they only talk about sewing machines, brick machines, tricycles (keke), motor bikes (Okada) and sports. They don’t talk about empowerment as mechanism to develop the mindset, purpose driven goals and thinking outside the box. We should be talking about mental/infrastructural developments as well as how to stimulate economic activities.

So many countries today have since realised the importance of young people in developments, examples are China, Republic of India, Poland, Republic of Ireland to mention but a few, India today is reaping the benefits of ICT hot zone because of her youths embraced Information Tech and communication, Poland is an emerging power hot-base in Europe, because younger generation are in charge of government affairs, it will be noted that the government of Poland encourages young men and women to bring in ideas that will further develop the once poor nation. 

Taking a closer look at the Republic of Ireland economic gains which started in early 90's (Celtic Tiger) I had the opportunity of discussing with the then Prime Minister Mr. Bertie Ahen at the formal launch of ACTIVE CITIZENS, about the future of the country, he said the youths are the future because they bring in the ideas that have shaped the country's economy.

To sum this point, I am disgruntled from a standpoint where the government is unwilling to accommodate the youths who can give a fruitful and healthy assistance by strengthening the national impetus in the political landscape. instead they are denied the boundless opportunity to blossom and often left in a neutral position to decay in their expediencies. Imagine where we have people above 40yrs as Local Government Chairmen/Women, Special Advisers and Special Assistance, Commissioners and Ministers, does this mean that a young man or woman of 25-30 of age cannot perform together with the older generation???

Why don’t we expose the youths to governance, so they would learn governance and become a voice in the nation? I have opted to raise this issue out of conviction. The low level of contentment and the high level of frustration the youths are enduring, which must be drastically reduced, has fully convinced me as an area of burning importance.

Many people, whom I talk to, harbor the view that our youths are not fully capable of orchestrating a national growth and that is the main factor in demoralizing the youths not to think about politics, let alone get involved. Indeed, the youths can bring about an essential change which gives us a fundamental shape in the various aspects of life of the nation- politically, economically and socially. 

The notion of change could be likened to a positive transformation, though glacial has always been more attractive to the youths than the older population who claim to work with the notion and in the spirit of bringing about a fundamental change. This is the rationale behind the fact that the youth is an all time dominant component in initiating the idea of changing the way the nation is driven in various aspects.

To leave the root cause of marginalization unquestioned from every perspective is at the expense of ignoring the very important issue that is hovering in the air, the why of the problem is interwoven and what has to be done vis-a-vis this problem. A peaceful revolution will paint a clear picture by reinstating the spirit of politics that once flourished among the youths.

I dream of a day when our country’s leadership will start to think of Nigeria's future and not her present. It cannot continue to ignore and short-change 70% of the Nigerian population. It is too much of a risk with dire consequences for the future of Nigeria.
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