From wasted, to ex-convict generations
The tales about Nigeria and its youth after she gained independence from Great Britain on October 1, 1960 usually blow the minds of those who did not experience the young and vibrant nation’s bright and promising prospects as it carry’s everyone along. There never could have been a better way to take the nation to greater heights than every hands being on deck. But, no sooner than Nigerians took to nation building and before the country could celebrate a decade of being independent, tragedy struck and the nation found itself enmeshed in a three-year-civil war that caused loss of lives and property.
For the Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, his generation (youth) that played major roles in that struggle was a wasted one due to the human capital that the nation lost in the civil strife. Of course, there is no doubt that generation was confronted by an irreversible violent force that collided with life and death. Indeed, life for that generation was nasty, brutish and short.
Regrettably, today, over five decades after the civil war, generations after generations seem to continue on the same wasteful path due to government’s past and present insensitivity and lack of concern towards the youth. It is no longer news to say Nigeria’s youth are jobless because majority among them find themselves in the unemployment market. It is sad that today’s youth are willing to work, but unable to find one because there seems to be no hope of any miraculous deliverance from government programmes and activities in their favour. Of course, reading from the nation’s economic statistics and the political leaders’ body language that lacks interest in youth development, many a youth have taken their destiny in their own hands either positively or negatively. Of late, the most terrifying aspect among majority of Nigeria’s youth is not the fact that they are unemployed, but the revelation from the catalogue of the nation’s youth involved in nefarious activities is virtually infinite and disturbing.
However, since we must begin somewhere to name and address these illicit acts, let us start first with cybercrimes which has taken centre stage among youth in recent times. Indeed, it is so sickening that in contemplating the rate at which Nigeria’s youth are getting involved in dubious actions, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the other day, raised the alarm that about 70 per cent of Nigeria’s youth may soon become ex-convicts in the near future if the present high rate of their involvement in cybercrimes was not stopped. The telling tale about the EFCC concern is that such dubious act does cast a dark shadow on every Nigerian once outside the shores of the country. However on the other hand, it also serves as a wake-up call on the government of the day to urgently address issues concerning the nation’s youth unemployment situation.
Given the spate at which young people indulge in criminality, how can Nigeria’s youth be rescued from this obliqueness? Of course, it is not enough for the EFCC to raise an alarm over an issue that a large section of society seems to accept as a norm. A large section of the society today is not bothered about how people made their money, hence chieftaincy title is readily available for the highest bidder. It is even worrisome to learn that most parents celebrate the success of their children, even from being fraudulent. Instead of questioning their source of sudden affluence, they encourage and eulogises their dubious tendencies. In trying to address the high rate of cybercrimes among youth, the Ilorin EFCC zonal commander, Usman Muktar maintained that, “When your children, who are in schools stopped asking you for money for upkeep or driving expensive cars, parents should ask questions. Unfortunately, some parents support these youth in internet fraud. They say it is oyibo money…”
It is understandable that the country has now fallen on hard times and the masses are challenged to survive by whatever means. But, that is not enough reason for young people who are seen as tomorrow’s leaders to soil their hands in dubious activities just because they want to arrive. No doubt, it is hard to imagine how and where Nigeria’s youth began to sink any lower into crimes and criminality? Hardly any day passes that many a youth are taking pledge to indulge in antics that brings bad reputation to the country and give them express appointment with the courts, the liberal community that awards prison conferment on desperate citizens. According to EFCC, the urge for want of a better life is leading Nigeria’s youth nearer 70 per cent ex-convicts generation. It is shocking to learn that of these cyber cases, the Benin zonal command a fortnight ago secured the conviction of 33 cyber criminals within 24 hours.
One wonders where Nigeria’s youth derived the ugly habits and criminal tendencies. Again, Muktar seems to have a clue. While speaking to journalists on the state of the nation, he noted that, “Corruption among political office holders is also a cause for concern. People should ask questions about projects and quality of works/projects. It would make them sit-up.…” Of course, politicians and political office holders share a common trait in the dubious path many of the nation’s youth have chosen to follow. No doubt, many a youth are inspired by examples of political office holders that misappropriate public funds and instead of being punished by the law, they are usually given a pat on the back and go free or are given lighter sentence of ‘breast pocket’ money fine. It is equally certain that, until people in government begin to govern by example, the society and particularly the youth will continue to juggle their minds and try to carve their path from the actions and inactions of political office holders.