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The new industry seizing Nigeria’s youth

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Nigerian Youth /PHOTO – Guardian Nigeria

In 1865 a month after America’s civil war ended the abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass posed this question “In what new skin will the old snake come forth? That question remains a metaphor reading from how blacks are being treated in America.

In Nigeria, the youth helped the ruling government in 2015 (then as opposition party) through a protest vote occasioned by hunger for change and hope for a better life to edge out the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from government.

With the current trends associated to youths, this writer is asking: How are the youth fairing today? Or in what new skin are the youth being identified? The thought of the ruling government about the youth is quite amazing. It will interest you to know that the youth are now part of the blame why things are not working.

Under this scenario, how can Nigeria’s public conversation be saved from politics of blame? It is not enough for politicians to push blame on certain group of people or past leaders just to defend what everyone knows that is not true.

Somehow, it is understandable that at this time of the political calendar when a new government, sorry a fresh term is about to be sworn-in, politicians choose to blossom (through their actions and inactions) like the wild cherry that spreads from the valley floor up the flanks of the mountain that catches the eyes.

All in a bid to entice their master, in this case, Mr President who may likely consider them to continue in their ministerial positions or other juicy appointment.

Perhaps that was why the Minister of Labour and employment, Chris Ngige goofed the other day that there is no qualms for Nigerian doctors leaving the country to seek greener pasture abroad since the nation have them “boku” in surplus. He buttressed the claim by saying: “when they go abroad, they earn money and send them back home here. We have foreign exchange earnings from them and not just oil”. As I earlier noted, these government apologists can only confuse the leadership with such baseless theories.

Back to the question: In the eyes of the ruling party, what are the Nigeria’s youth good at or known for? The answer is not far fetched. Not too long ago, President Muhammadu Buhari projected Nigeria’s youth to the world as lazy folks. It is really disheartening for government to say such about its future leaders. It is even more shocking to hear the current narrative or is it a lamentation about the nation’s youth. Instead of inspiring the youth so that they can find their own voices, the opposite is the case. Government officials publicly allege that youth have built an empire on criminality. Therefore, crime is now the new industry that they pride themselves in.

According to the Minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe, who represented President Buhari at the flag-off of distribution of cotton seeds and inputs to 100,000 cotton farmers in Katsina, many young people are now thriving as CEO’s in the occupation of kidnap.

Hear him: “The mistakes of yesterday are causing us anxieties today: our children are graduating from universities and polytechnics and they can’t find a job to do… so our youths, our children have turned to a new industry which is causing fear in the heart of all of us, namely kidnapping, abduction and all kinds of crimes including rustling of cattle” He did not stop there.

Therefore, I shall return to it. No doubt, it is hard to see how these complaints and labeling of the youth in notorious activities can solve the mirage of the security problems facing the nation. Over the years Nigeria remain a country of two divides: ‘the haves’ and have nots’.

An inequality created by poor leadership that continues to widen the divide between the rich and the poor. Unfortunately, many of the mistakes attributed to yesterday’s men are being repeated by those in power today.

It is absolutely unpleasant that government officials generalise easily and are quick to reach negative conclusions about Nigeria’s youth, while they corner mouth watering benefits for themselves at the expense of the tax payer. For instance, the Kano State House of Assembly recently argued in their beneficence and passed a life pension bill for its Speaker and deputy.

How does such lavish frivolity help the ordinary man in that state? Nigeria’s youth are indeed very lucky to be born in this part of the world…oh, sorry unlucky that they live in a country that has no plans for them.

Therefore, the country is doomed since the youth have resorted criminality as the only means of survival. To make matters worse, those in government continue to argue strongly on dehumanising young people, instead of mapping out programmes that will keep them busy.

However, corruption cases of famous politicians are quickly swept under the carpet or wrapped like a wound under bandages and they make sure it is hidden away from public glare.

Our leaders seem too glad to take two steps forward and three steps backward on important issues. These negative attributions by government on the youth are a delibrate attempt tailored to repress young people from leadership positions. Irrespective of its passage, the ‘Not too young to run bill’ is yet to see light at the end of the tunnel.

This is because young people were cowed with exorbitant amount of party nomination forms among others during the 2019 elections.

Again, not quite long this government argued that the bandits and criminalities rocking the country are caused by foreign fighters from Libya and elsewhere. How come the bandits now metamorphose into becoming Nigeria’s youth?

In most cases, it often turns out that those behind castigating the youth for criminality are the silver lining behind the decision that made the young people to navigate on the wrong direction. It is not an overstatement to say that politicians are to blame for the irregular behavior of Nigeria’s youth. This is because over the years politicians engage most young people as political thugs and equip them with dangerous weapons during elections.

Once after elections, such persons who of course are unemployed can easily become the devils alternative with the weapons at their disposal.

How long can we endure as a country in this circumstance? How can we survive when kidnapping is a new occupation and business? What is the cause of this situation? These, among others are the pertinent questions and worries running riot in the head of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The simple answer to the above questions resides with the Emir of Katsina Abdulmumini Kabir Usman who was host to the hunourable Minister.

From his wealth of knowledge and wisdom and as an apostle of truth, he truthfully said: “Honourable minister, tell the President that we have to take very good care of our people, security first…security is first and fundamental”. A wise counsel you may say but will the government heed?


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