Opinion: Nigerian Youth And Nation-Building by Safiya Stephanie Musa

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It is common knowledge that the young people in any country represent the future of that country. Nations rely on the strength, creativity and versatility of their youth population to realize their national goals and aspirations. To ensure that the youths play vital roles in the development of the country, government initiates youth-focused programmes, policies and activities that would prepare her youths for the future.

The above follows from the fact that, no nation attains greatness either by accident or mere wishful thinking. History books are replete with inspiring stories of the painful sacrifices made by citizens in order for their countries to become great and successful. The greatness of a nation is largely a question of the individual or collective contributions of her citizens. Developed nations that we often talk about never became great overnight. Beyond envisioning greatness, they made adequate preparation required to achieve their goals.

Truth is, an average Nigerian youth knows what patriotism and service to fatherland is all about. The will or conscious resolve to do the right thing remains the problem. No nation realizes her potential without the inputs of its citizens, especially the youths. Beyond the forth and back arguments on how to ensure that citizens give their all to their country, government should as a matter of fact demonstrate the readiness to address real and potential challenges confronting its youth population. A disenchanted, helpless and hopeless youth is a  liability to the nation. He or she is akin to a ticking time bomb awaiting explosion. Any nation that fails to take care of its youth population risks a dangerous and shaky future.

Further, it is absolutely true that today’s youth are facing many challenges, such as poverty, HIV/AIDS, unemployment and drug abuse, but there also exist opportunities to gradually overcome some of these challenges. These challenges are not as difficult as we often see them. Henceforth, see yourself as a key player in the Nigerian project. This is the way to go. Remember, Challenges are stepping stones to greatness.

An average member of the political elite circle sees the youth as a means to realizing his or her political aspiration. They recruit the youths to harass, threaten and intimidate their political rivals. They arm these youths with weapons with which they foment troubles, especially during elections. Sadly, the moments elections are over, these youths are abandoned and made to carry their dislocated destinies in their hands.

Dear Nigerian youths, 2019, another election year is fast approaching. Let’s seize the opportunity to change the negative narrative about us. Let no desperate politician use you as a means to winning election in a dubious manner. Enough is Enough.

There are many ways that youths can contribute to national development. They can do so by excelling in any field they are involved in, be it teaching, mechanic or agricultural field. Working for one’s nation with total devotion and commitment is an obligation for every citizen thus the need to have orientation events for our youth to teach them what national service is all about. However, to ensure the active participation of young people in national development, they need to be supported and encouraged by the government, the private sector, the civil society and their parents.

One does not need to belabour the point that there are many young people who if given the required support can contribute meaningfully to national development. But bringing such youths onboard the development wagon becomes the responsibility of those in authority. The older generation who are in position of authority should mentor and groom the youths.

Having said that, it is also essential to note that young people must also believe in themselves; that they can become a big asset both individually and collectively to national development if they work hard. They must show interest in the day to day activities of their country. Nothing works until and when you take a walk and move it in the right direction.

The Nigerian youth must as a matter of fact take his rightful place in the journey towards realizing the country of our collective dream and aspiration. A situation of continued over-dependency on handouts and crumbs from the elite cannot take our youths anywhere, nor can it help them to meaningfully contribute to national development as expected. Beyond lamentations about the litany of challenges facing us as a nation, let us rise up and get involved in the search for solutions to our national woes now for a greater future.

Let’s all remember that the future that we are talking about belongs to the skilled, prepared, and goal-oriented youths who have resolved to invest in themselves over the years. The future may leave behind those who have become errand boys and girls to selfish politicians. It isn’t for those who perpetually mill around politicians for crumbs. Nor to those who think the path to greatness is to take to crime.

Dear all, let’s see politics as an avenue to offer service to humanity. Politics isn’t a career. Look inward and develop your innate potential. The future is for the innovative, smart, focused, hard-working and creative youth. Opportunities to contribute and excel will always come, the question is ‘Will you be ready.’ Like Pasteur stated, “Chance favours the prepared mind”. Be prepared for your opportunity!!



– Safiya Stephanie Musa.

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