The paradoxical saying, “The child becomes the father of man” is a call to action to the youths of today. This saying points out a questioning of the readiness of our youths’ to take up the leadership position.
Are the youth ready to cause a political turn around in Nigeria? A youth is an individual who is beyond the age of dependency. They are individuals who are assumed or seen to be able to make decisions by themselves.Going by the African Youth Charter, through UNESCO report, a youth is an individual within the age of 15-30years of age. While on the other hand, the Federal Republic of Nigeria sees a youth as an individual within the age range of 18-35years of age.
How old were the revolutionaries of January 15, 1966, Coup d’état, when it was staged? Major Nzeogwu, Major Ifeajuana, Major Ademoyega, Major Onwutuaegwu and, Major Chukwuka were between the age boundary of 18-35years of age when they perceived a political anomaly in Nigeria and they planned a revolution. But what is happening to the fate of the youth of the 21st century, who are experiencing the same trend of political anomaly and imbalance?
Many have wondered why the present day Nigeria youth lack action, even a lot doubt the capability of today’s youth as an instrument of change in Nigeria. The reason why Nigeria’s 21st-century youths lack what is called ACT! Is because of four major reasons that are listed and explained below:
- Knowledge of history: Today in Nigeria’s educational sector, “history” has been a neglected course and is not regarded as a subject of study again. Primary school and Secondary school in Nigeria today do not teach the history of Nigeria, not even of the world at large. Many secondary schools now pair history and government as a subject, so students of the “Arts Class” are restricted to choose between the two courses. Even majority of those that even take it as a subject find it voluminous and difficult. We only find “History” as a course of study at the Faculty of Humanities/Arts of our universities and students who studies it, finds it had to get a job to do with, not even in the teaching sector which is known as the cheapest job to see around. With nothing to do with it, many of our history graduates find themselves in other business and they thereby jettison history. Even the bible says, “My people perish because of lack of understanding” likewise Nigerian Youths perish because of our lack of our historical knowledge. European and Asian educational system ensure history is been taught from primary school.
My experience in Cote d’Ivoire in 2013 explains to me how historically backward we are as a country. I had the opportunity to meet with a History and Geography teacher of a secondary school in Cote d’Ivoire, he said that he was teaching insurgency as a topic in History and that he was using Nigeria’s “Boko Haram” issue as a case study. While, in the Nigerian Secondary Schools our students don’t know what Boko Haram is except for the ones who make themselves available to the Newspaper reports, Television or Radio news reports.
- Our Ideology about Integrity: The word “integrity” sounds alien to many Nigerian youths, many understand the literal meaning. “Act of being honest and possessing strong moral principles” but cannot express the action behind it. If you display an act of integrity today many take you to be a “mugun” or a “churchy”. The National Youth Service exposed me to the kind of youth Nigeria is breeding, our youth do not see the essence of being honest or accountable. Everyone, at the sight of money, lose their senses. Imagine a set of people use the contributed money of a particular set of people to take beer and they still end up posting the pictures on a Whatsapp group page. Also, when we go to the student executives of the university, the action is the same. A departmental president doesn’t see the need to display integrity all he knows at that time he is in power or that he is the one in charge, a guarantee to spend money in a wasteful manner. Our youths see acts of extortion as a virtue. One will even hear some say things like, “any money no money, at least you get money”. We no longer believe in the dignity of labour because we believe some set of leaders or politicians are doing likewise.
- Money, myself rather than true service: Most youths today do not see the necessity in true service, they believe some people are doing it this way, then let’s follow suit. Some even go to the extent of saying that people sat in the senate and are stealing so they also have to steal. We no longer see the essence of living for another or the saying, “Live and let’s live”. The youth of today do not see the problems or challenges of their fellow as their own challenge rather we are all blinded by the fact that we have to make money and be rich. The self-gratification syndrome that has eaten deep into the seniors. The ‘I’ or ‘Myself” mentality that has made many of our political leaders see themselves as the only set of people to hold the stake to power, is destroying the youths.The “if you cannot beat them, why not join them”, is the reality of the travails of our youths. The Nigerian youths have been cheated and maligned but it is also not a reason to let things destroy. Yes, they never thought of us but should we allow the generation coming after we or the generation of our own children suffer the same hardship? Let’s take up the charge, let’s carry the cross to educate ourselves because the set of people we look up to, never want us educated. Ademoyega said, “I came to the army with the heart pointed towards finding a solution to Nigeria’s political problems” (Why We Struck, 1981, pg. 26). Be a solution provider don’t create more nor neither be a problem.