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Pampering Nigeria’s youth with sermon of hope

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It is often said of youth across the world that they are the future leaders of a nation. In Nigeria, political leaders make bold to ascribe same to its youth, but sadly only as a lip service. Nigeria’s political elite in their imagination believe that the nation’s youth are not well nurtured to handle leadership position. Yet, they are not ready to nurture or teach the youth the rudiments of good governance and leadership skills. Perhaps, because they lack such qualities as good leadership model and accountability hence, politicians in this part of the clime continue to use soothing words to pamper the nations’ youth to always hope against hope in the face of harsh economic reality, unemployment and societal degradation.

A case in point is the recent gathering of a section of youth at the Olusegun Obasanjo presidential library in Abeokuta, Ogun State during a symposium on “Youth governance and dialogue” where the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, swayed the audience with his exploit in service to the nation as a military officer and later as Head of State. Obasanjo spoke on how he and his colleagues brought hope alive to the country when some people felt there was virtually no hope and that the country was finished. He described himself as an incurable optimist on issues concerning Nigeria.

Indeed, there is no disputing the fact that Obasanjo has immensely contributed a lot to salvage the country. Also undisputable is the fact that, Obasanjo began his contribution and exploits for the nation at a youthful age. Why then are today’s youth kept at arm’s length from making their impact in nation building through leadership roles?

The woeful state of the young population in Nigeria today is deeply corrosive to society as government and political leaders continue to undermine their confidence and ability to deliver. It is not an overstatement to say that Nigeria’s ability to thrive economically depends on the thrust of its political leaders to prepare the youth ahead of time to adapt with the system of leadership to contribute positively to national development. There is one fact that government past and present has refused to consider and that is, it is only the youth that can salvage the nation from the economic misery among other setbacks that is slowing down the country. Therefore, more focus and development plan is needed to keep the youth abreast with leadership skills.

Nigeria’s youth according to Obasanjo must not “… lose hope, though the situation is bad, I don’t need to tell you that. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is light beyond the tunnel”. No doubt, former president Obasanjo’s sermon on hope is not new, therefore, very close to what Nigerians have been hearing from politicians all year round, especially during election periods. One cannot paint an exact picture as to what youth neglect actually causes the society because it comes in different shades and colour. Youth neglect is the result the country is seen in bad light from the atrocities of Boko Haram to the money spinning industry in kidnapping and of course, all sorts of negative social vices that are thriving among youth in recent time. This is a shame for an oil rich country like Nigeria.

It is important for the Buhari’s government to take a closer look at the nation’s young population and give the youth a chance to ‘paddle the economic canoe out of the turbulent waters’. This is because they have the energy and time to rescue the nation from the economic quagmire. No matter the sweet talk, Nigeria’s youth should not be carried away with cheap sentiments from the current wave of political preachers of hope and light at the end of the tunnel. It will surprise one to know that every politician in Nigeria is an ultimate preacher of hope and perseverance, instead of being a great performer by providing basic human necessity to the people without fanfare. It is even more worrisome to note that politicians don’t practise what they preach. They constantly act with impunity and misappropriate the nation’s wealth indiscriminately to their own favour. At the end of the day, Nigeria’s political leaders continue to admonish the citizens especially the youth to hope and endure because there will be light at the end of the tunnel someday.

The continued rise in the number of unemployed youth in the country at a time the population is fast growing is deeply disturbing. And as Obasanjo rightly puts it: “The other problem is demography, we are now 200 million in population and in about 30 years, we will be about 400 million. Some say we will be 415 million, some say we will be 450 million. Whichever one, we will be the third largest country in the world after China and India. That would present great challenges. How are we going to handle it? It can be an asset if we handle it well. But if we continue with business as usual, as we are doing now, it will be a great calamity. It will be a great disaster. We have to think about it…”

What is more, the political leaders appear to have no clue on how to deal with the teeming youthful population that is at the moment calm and understanding. How then would government and the political leaders be able to handle the youth when they become restive spontaneously across the country over the stormy clouds of uncertainty gathering as a result of failure in leadership at all levels? Nigeria’s politicians should quickly retrace their steps and stop being fickle to their election promises as well as doing too little too late for the impoverished masses. It is not clear how things will improve in the coming months, but it is indeed cheerful to hear that the Buhari administration has mapped out strategy to lift millions of people out of poverty. But, the way and manner to achieve this is also critical when political leaders continue to constantly negate the youth. There cannot be a better time than now for the political elite to carry the youth along. Again, to paraphrase our learned former president Obasanjo, “…whatever you are talking about, unless you take care of (youth) inclusiveness you will not get there…”


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