The endangered Nigeria’s youth and other stories
There is a new federal government directive in the country. It is one of the most striking decisions of the ruling APC government and it does not seem to be palatable for those it is directed at. This is because it seems to taunt the class of people politicians constantly refer to as the future leaders of the nation. Yet their hope for a better future keeps dangling like a pendulum due to unfulfilled political promises. Currently, the hope of millions of Nigeria’s youth, especially university graduates who are eagerly looking forward to be engaged with gainful employment in government agencies, ministries and parastatals is now seen as a daydream. Nigeria’s youth now have to worry about the journey to the unknown as entrepreneurs without any guide or palliative from the government.
Judging by the language of the directive, there is no greater sin in Nigeria currently than being a youth. This is because government, past or present hardly expressed its modesty and empathy on the youngsters. Over the years, Nigeria’s youth are constantly and unfairly treated often as government chooses to shy away from its responsibilities towards youth welfare. In fact, President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s behaviour towards the nation’s youth reveals a fairy tale my grandmother used to tell us as kids about a king who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.
No doubt, if things should continue in this way, President Buhari’s departure at the end of his stewardship may prove to be a broad historic significance of poor leadership and huge embarrassment to Nigerians especially the youth. This is a government that struck a bond with voters in 2015, majority of whom are youth that it would create millions of jobs if voted into office as well as pay stipends to unemployed fresh graduates.
Surprisingly, the other day, the minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige advised unemployed graduates against relying on government for job opportunities. The minister advised point blank that, they should stop poking into government establishments for jobs that are not available. He admonished the youth thus,”…Nigeria’s youth should invest their talent in other job sectors, as the richest youth of the world, aged between 21 and 31 years, are not employees of government but smart entrepreneurs who distinguished themselves in creative skills in various areas”. Good talk you may say. But ordinarily, in other climes where government works, the people’s burden is not only the government’s responsibility but it is seen as government’s headache and government must earnestly find solutions that would solve issues affecting the people. Indeed, there is no reason to dispute what the honourable minster, Ngige said.
But what he forgot to mention or inform Nigerians is government’s own contribution by way of providing an enabling platform for Nigeria’s youth. For instance, in Norway as reported by The Economist magazine February 14, 2020 issue that “…many young Norwegian greens (as they are called) want to wean their country off oil. Technology startups are proliferating in Oslo, helped by generous subsidies from the government. They (youth) meet in rooms called “Creative Cocoon” or “Bug fixer”. Last year Oslo came third in a ranking of the world’s most talent competitive cities by INSEAD, a European business school”.
It is indeed a remarkable achievement that transcends the government’s motivations of the Oslo youngsters. Sadly, the ruling government believes in sloganeering and quick to point at some unlikely examples abroad as well as compare Nigeria’s youngsters to other countries of the world. One cause for these disappointing failures of government on the youth is its continued turning blind eyes to what government in other countries do to enable their youth perform excellently well as entrepreneurs in technology startups or any areas of endeavour.
The ruling government and indeed the political elite are deeply embedded in old colonial habits and have shown little or no interest in investing in the youthful population of the country. The philosophical question remains what future awaits Nigeria’s youth if all what government does is to talk and cite examples with youth from other climes without providing guidelines and assistance for its own? Without mincing words, Nigeria’s youth are among the most industrious and enterprising youngsters in the world. Again, if one may ask, what does it take to be an entrepreneur in an economy such as Nigeria’s where government finds it difficult to provide constant and affordable electricity? Of course, insecurity continues to pose as a great challenge for those in the agriculture sector as farmers/herders clash continue to hamper food production across the country.
Somehow, there seems to be a fundamental difference about the role of government for the youth. This is because Nigeria has stopped working for the youth hence many among them are seeking greener pastures abroad. Amid the oil wealth in Nigeria, it is easier to smell poverty among the people than to taste riches even if it is in infrastructure development. However, it is easier to find rogue politicians than credible and performing ones. Which is why few political leaders who run the affairs of government hold sway over the nation’s wealth and many among them corruptly enrich themselves. The other day, the Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) raised an alarm that the country is overrun by debt.
According to FRC all the 36 states of the federation have contravened the guidelines of the Debt Management office. (DMO) President Buhari who is supposed to set the borrowing limit for the states as stipulated by the FRC Act has not done so. As we were wondering about the unpalatable ills facing the nation’s youth, President Buhari in faraway Addis Ababa, Ethiopia once again raised the hopes of Nigerians especially parents and relations of kidnapped children as he testified his commitment before the international community that all kidnapped children would be freed. The President has spoken and knowing that leadership should not be a mere slogan, therefore, the world is watching and waiting patiently to see result.
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