Saturday, 1st April 2023
Breaking News:

Do you use or misuse your youthfulness?

By Shadrach P. Boussa
16 June 2016   |   4:00 am
The youthful age is the most interesting, vibrant, vigorous, versatile and active period in one’s life. It is the age of strength, in which knowledge is acquired, experience is gained ...


“A youthful age wasted (in any nation), is a useful age (of a nation) wasted!” –Anonymous

The youthful age is the most interesting, vibrant, vigorous, versatile and active period in one’s life. It is the age of strength, in which knowledge is acquired, experience is gained, and the age that prepares one for middle age activities. The youthful age is the most captivating time of a human being. Little wonder, it is referred to as the prime or spring of life! Because at this phase of human life, everything is working at optimum level. It is at this stage of life that one is capable of doing so many things, either good or bad that would either build or destroy one.

The youths make up about 65 to 70 per cent of the population of our country. Also, they are the leaders of both today and tomorrow. It was on this premise that our founding fathers deemed it fit to establish the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN) in 1964. And one of its objectives is ‘to deep-root the culture of Nation-building and leadership building in our youths.’ So, the question is, are you (as a youth) using your youthfulness in nation-building and leadership building in Nigeria? Or, are you misusing it in destroying your leadership potential and the nation, Nigeria?

Unfortunately, some of us youths have chosen to misuse and abuse our youthfulness! Some of us, our youthfulness has been channelled in the wrong direction, instead. As it is in Nigeria today, it seems to me that the second name for some Nigerian youths is ‘a.k.a. violence’! The youth in Nigeria are involved, and in most cases are in the vanguard of violent conflicts that have occurred in different parts of the country. Youth restiveness and violence in our land has assumed a dangerous dimension. The youths are now the willing instruments in carrying out electoral violence. And this has become a ‘signature tune’ of our electoral process. Such youths who are used for this senseless act are misusing their youthfulness!

A youth is also misusing his or her youthfulness if he or she is involved in drug addiction and trafficking, human trafficking, substance abuse, cultism, stealing, armed robbery, kidnapping, assassination, political thuggery, rape, prostitution, examination malpractice, and other social vices that don’t add value neither to himself nor to the society.

They detract and subtract from your life and the society! For you to use or misuse your youthfulness is a matter of choice! Unemployment or poverty shouldn’t be a good enough excuse for any youth of Nigeria to be bought with a paltry sum of two thousand, or at most, N5, 000 to maim or kill his fellow human being! It is unacceptable! For any youth to allow himself to be manipulated and mobilised by unscrupulous elite to cause harm to another human being is a colossal waste of the strength of youthfulness! Yes, you heard me right!

Many studies on Youth Restiveness and Violence in Nigeria have attributed it mainly to unemployment. That is because the unemployed youths are idle and frustrated; they become willing tools in the hands of greedy politicians to perpetrate violence for their selfish interests. Granted, unemployment could be a factor, but should that be an excuse to misuse one’s youthfulness? If that is the case, what about other youths who’re using their youthfulness to advance the cause of nation-building? They’re also facing the same challenges with those ‘Generals of Violence,’ but they chose to be useful with their youthfulness!

Some youths have argued that they’re at liberty to live their lives the way they want, and it’s nobody’s business. Yes, I agree. But the bad news is that the end is always bitter –we will dearly pay for it! Even if you’re ‘highly connected’ and therefore get away with it, Mother Nature will definitely have her course! In this regard, the Good Book has this to say: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth is vanity” (Eccl. 11: 9, 10).

When the Good Book said, “The glory of young men is their strength…” (Prov. 20: 29), it means that what makes you to be proud as a young person is the God-endowed strength you possess.

It’s the major characteristic of youthfulness. But it’s not just our physical strength, but also our mental, emotional and social strengths. So, how do you use your youthfulness? You use your youthfulness and not misuse it when you explore, exploit, employ all your naturally endowed resources (talents, abilities, knowledge and skills) and deploy them for the common good of mankind. If you have the gift of charisma, for example, you could use it to mobilise your peers against political violence, and also to position yourself as a great leader for nation building.

In my opinion, the most valuable resource we have in Nigeria is not our crude oil and rich mineral deposits, but it’s the human resources. And the youths make up about 70 per cent of the human capital! In other words, both the present and the future of Nigeria lie largely in the hands of the youths. It was Aristotle who asserted, “All advancement in society begins with the development of the character of the young.”

This invariably implies that for Nigeria to advance economically, politically and technologically, we the youths must be useful with our youthfulness by developing both our character and mental strengths. We the youths should be curious, serious and furious enough to make Nigeria a great nation! This, we can do by harnessing the potent combination of our natural and numerical strengths and deploy them positively against injustice, youth marginalisation, bad governance, inconsiderate government policies, bribery and corruption, nepotism, oppression, insurgency, and so on. And I bet that the greatness of Nigeria will be inevitable!

Dear great youth of Nigeria, it’s high time we stopped the blame-game and begin to take responsibility for our lives! You’re neither a biological mistake nor an accident! Rather, you’re a customised design by God to solve a specific problem in Nigeria (and not to create problems). No matter the hardship you may be going through now, please, don’t be tempted to take to crime, or allow yourself to be a willing tool in the hands of the selfish elites to misuse your youthfulness. If other youths can discover their talents and are contributing to national development, you, too, can do it! When once you discover your gifts and use them for the common good of mankind, guess what? You’ll become a most sought-after commodity in your community –Nigeria!

Till I come your way again next time, please take to heart these words: “Do not allow your excitement of being young to cause you to forget the race (your responsibility toward yourself and the society) you need to run in life!” Don’t misuse or abuse your youthfulness. Be useful with your youthfulness!\

• Boussa, a speaker, writer, Stress/Time Management and Elocution coach, writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State 08036600945;