Dealing with social issues plaguing our youths – Part 2
The EndSARS demonstration, which took place on October 20, 2020, was a spillover of the prolonged neglect of our youths. Not even the recent panel’s report can fully assuage all grievances of the youths. At best, it may address their right to self-expression.
Our youths face numerous challenges, some of which we shall restate here. They face the challenges of drug addiction, Internet fraud, pool betting, examination malpractices, pornography, peer pressure, craving materialism, kidnapping, banditry, unemployment and occultic practices, to mention a few. To deny that these problems exist is to be insincere.
Internet fraud has become such a debilitating plague among youths. Some have said youths prefer Internet fraud to armed robbery, and this is why there is a decline in an armed robbery. But that argument is not tenable, because the effect of Internet fraud on youths is equally morally destructive. A father once called me, weeping over the phone concerning the plight of his son, who was given half a million naira schools fees, but he skipped returning to school. Rather, he went to join a gang of Internet fraudsters. All attempts to reach him on phone at the university failed until they realised that his friends had lured him into the business of Internet fraud. Many of our hotels in the cities have been taken over by youths who are Internet fraudsters. On Lagos Island, fraudsters rent housing estates, which give them the seclusion to operate. Unfortunately, in some cases, our law enforcement agencies connive with them by deliberately turning blind eyes to their nefarious activities. Nigeria’s reputation as a haven for Internet fraudsters has reached embarrassing levels.
The deplorable standard of education is another problem affecting our youths. In this fast-paced technology age, no nation can progress without paying adequate attention to the education of its youths. Though the youths are not solely to be blamed for the fallen standard of education, they cannot be completely exonerated either from blame. Many youths, especially male folks, are easily distracted from their studies by social media and the fad for celebrities. Rather than spend time on their studies, they would rather discuss and try to emulate the icons and celebrities they think to make money faster. Rather than study, they engage in pool betting, hoping that they would hit the jackpot one day. All these come as distractions to their studies. Due to the lack of commitment to their studies, they end up looking for ways to cheat during examinations and falsify results to gain admission into higher institutions. To worsen matters, some parents help their wards to indulge in sharp examination malpractices and even offer bribes on their behalf. A professor of Physics in one of the universities lamented to me seriously that for the past thirty years, he had never taught a class of students who are so shallow in their knowledge of rudimentary science. He wondered how the students gained admission into the university.
Government’s insincerity and half-hearted measures at job creation have further exacerbated the problems of the youth. According to the Nigerian Bureau for Statistics, the joblessness rate in 2021 increased to 33.3 per cent in the fourth quarter. More than half of the labour force is unemployed or underemployed. In reality, the rate of unemployment among our youths will be up to 50 per cent or more. An unemployed and uneducated youth population is the devil’s workshop and a ready recruitment force for Boko Haram and banditry.