The development of any society is the interplay between man and his environment. This interplay that ensure self discovery plays a major role in energizing, conscientizing, motivating and mobilizing the people towards a common goal. There is no doubt, when nature created the world, he perfected it with major variable that will make the life of man simpler, easier and peaceful, towards moral, physical and celestial prosperity . However, the inability of man to curtail his ego and self love has been the major obstacle to attaining nature’s promise, thereby, heightening circle of confusion and hopelessness. It is important to say, that man is a product of his environment or value system. It is the value system that shapes the perception and beliefs of the people. Generations upon generation were feed with value system that comes to influence their perception, behaviours, attitude and characters for centuries. Therefore, society with strong value system will experience high development and discipline group of people while a society with weak value system will experience chaos and underdevelopment.
Although there is no universally accepted definition of whom a youth is? However, in a way of making a personal conceptual clarification, “Youth can be define as a special group of people with strong stamina and passion for realizing certain set goals and objectives”. Also, youth share certain characteristics that distinguish them from others generation. Such characteristic include, impatient for change, zealousness, radicalism, rebellions, curiosity, hardwork, ego and ambition etc. You will agree with me, that, these are the propelling factors for national development. While national development is the general improvement in the lives of individual, groups, and environment. Looking at these two concepts, it is safe to say, that, youth are the engine and actualizes of national development, if their mindsets are channels in the right direction. Therefore, their actions and inaction are necessary impetus for entrenching and consolidating the vertical and horizontal integrations of any society or country like Nigeria.
You will agree with me, there is a linkage or/and intercourse between youth and national development. This intercourse is not only symbiotically connected; but, one depends on the other for its sustenance. Therefore, the role of youth on national development can not be over emphasis. The wheel of development of any country lies on the shoulder of how productivity and creativity the youthful populations are. The youth in any society are the engine of growth and development; because, they provide the labour force for production of goods and service to take effect. And also, are the critical masses of people, whose action and inaction can develop or destroy the hegemonies of their society. For example according to the 2006 census, the youthful population constituted over 70% of the population. So, therefore, this quantum of population is great assets for the Nigerian state if harness and utilize in the right direction.
Interestingly, the transition of society from one generation to another is critical to the formative and developmental aspiration of such society. That, is why society that prepare their youth for the sake of future aspiration will not only secure her future development; but, will prepare her next set of leaders with the challenges of national reconciliation and development. So, therefore, the role of youth on national development is sacrosanct to the whole developmental aspiration of any society.
The youth are the cornerstone to societal rejuvenation. Societies are not only recreated through the youthful population, but, youth are often referring to as leaders of tomorrow. So, their mindset and roles is of major important to the development of any society. It is perplexing to say, that, no nation will experience development when the preponderance of the population that constitutes the largest percentage of the population are idle and ineffective. So, therefore, the youths have a greater role to play on national development. It has been suggested that Nigeria could by 2030 reap the benefits of what some called a “demographic dividend” if it invest now in human development. Nigeria current demographic structures could be future assets when a demographic window of opportunity opens as fertility and high youth dependency declines. In fact, The Nigeria youths, not oil are the future of Nigeria in the 21st century.
Unfortunately, these projections, expectations, and future forecasts, seem to be an abysmal blindfolded future, if the prevailing realities is anything to go by. The current state of the mind of Nigerian youth is not encouraging and doesn’t inspire confidence. Societal neglects and government inability to design an integrated and implementable policy framework targeting the youthful energy for national development, has left the youth without guardianship, mentorship and direction. Instead of utilizing their energy, curiosity, creativity, passion and impatient for change to foster national development; unfortunately, the gamut of the society has left the youth without, hope, guardianship, mentorship and future aspiration, if the agonies of poverty, unemployment, frustration, despondences, confusion, hopelessness, parental and governmental neglects, are anything to go by.
It is my humble submission that, today, due to lack of opportunities and support based in the country, the only place of consolation for the youthful minds to showcase their talents and energy is in the entrainment industry. Which to me is a great disappointment, minus and annoying to me as we continue to forecast future developmental aspiration of our dear country, Nigeria. Entertainment though a multi-million dollar sector in advance countries, but, is a diversionary and idle sector for the pool of human resources and creativity that lie buried in the hands and hearts of Nigeria youth. I believe, the Nigeria youth have more, than, entertainment to offers this great nation. The leaders, and society in general most understand, the miracles of development lies in the development of youthful minds and souls with knowledge and skills. Knowledge and skill have become the global currency of the world. Unfortunately, there is no central bank in the world that prints such currency, except, leaders and societies device their own means of prints it, through harnessing and utilizing the energy, creativity and passion of their youth for national development. Sure it is great to have oil and gas and other mineral resources, but as according to Schleicher, they only weaken society in the long run unless they’re used to build schools and the culture of long time learning.
It has often be argued that, if you want to know how a country is going to do in 21st century, don’t count its oil resources or gold, but, count its highly effective teachers, involved parents and committed students. It is a knowledge based century; the ability of nations to rise and consolidate the gains of globalization, lies in training and educating well inform youths. The secret of development in Asia, Finland is the miracle of development of human engines through education and skill acquisition. It is equally, important for both the leadership of the country, parents and societal gatekeepers to understand and appreciate the fact that, we will only be deluding ourselves if we think that, we can build a nation out of these centrifugal forces of confusion and frustration, we called leaders of tomorrow (Nigeria Youth). Political leaders must channels their energy in harnessing and utilizing the energy and passion of the youth through positive means, not the current image of political thuggery, assassins, election riggers, bed warmers and prostitution.
No doubt; Nigeria is seating on a gun powder ready for explosion, if the reality of frustration and hopelessness among the vast of Nigerian youths are anything to go by. Therefore, it is important, for policy makers, parents and gate keepers, to understand and appreciate that, youth are the future of this country; therefore, their mindset and creativity should be a major concern to the nation. There is need for the government to create atmosphere favourable for the youth to achieve their desire objectives. The agonies of Boko Haram, Militancy, armed Robberies, Scams and other social deviance are the product lack of guardianship and vision for national development. Investing in knowledge and skill is critical to youth development. Education is the cornerstone of country’s future. Education here should be more than, just knowing facts and receiving recognitions for being able to attain such; but, it should be holistic in nature, teaching more than just knowing data, but, also, teaching understanding and awareness and nurturing potentials. No doubt; if properly harness and utilize, the youth are the future of Nigeria in 21st century, because there is direct relationship between youthful mindset and developmental aspiration of such society.
Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega
Wrote from Wuse Zone 4, Abuja