“Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If however, they are left on society’s margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies”- Kofi Annan
REVIEW OF PROGRESS FROM INCEPTION ESSAY
As the foundation announced “The Nigeria of my dream” as the topic for last year’s essay, young Nigerians poured in laudable entries that coincided with Nigeria’s 60th anniversary celebration. Constant power supply, reduced unemployment, societal equality, increased literacy, better health care, enhanced security, zero hunger and actualization of the SDGs are but a few dreams youths dreamt about Nigeria. As the discussion ended, Collin Powell reminded us that “a dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; It takes sweat, determination and hard work”. Armed with this counsel, the nation and her youths rolled up their sleeves and off they went to work. There was the establishment of presidential infrastructure development fund, construction of rails, roads and ports for easy transportation, energization of education and economies programme, launch of solar power Naija to deliver 5 million off grid solar connections, establishment of survival fund, National Youth Investment Fund and NSPWP to reduce unemployment.
Towards the end of 2020, #Endsars, an anti-police brutality protest saw a majority of Nigeria’s marginalized youths who make up 35.6% of the total population create a powerful movement that shook the nation and demonstrated freedom from ethno religious tensions that usually plagued the unity of citizens.
As a mathematics teacher in a local primary school, I used the period to create awareness among my students about overcoming corruption, insecurity, civil war re-occurrence, and how to make Nigeria great. Despite disappointments in some quarters regarding the countries slow progress, this year’s topic serves as a catalyst for the emergence of a new Nigeria.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Role refers to the position or purpose that something /someone has in a situation, organization, society or relationship.
Youths in the Nigeria constitution refers to persons between ages 18 and 35.
Emergence is the process of becoming visible after been concealed.
New Nigeria is the beginning anew and in a transformed way of Nigeria.
ROLES OF YOUTHS IN THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW NIGERIA
The energy of the youth plays a great role in Nation building. It can be likened to fire that can cause unquantified preservation or destruction depending on the direction in which it’s channelled. It is therefore pertinent for the mind of youths to be equipped through education. Since most teachers in our schools are youths, they should provide excellent education and explore history for the country to reap from their students in the future.
Statistics shows that there is a wide divide between the youths and national interest. Youths should team up to form selfless organizations capable of stimulating national interest and uniting the nation.
Celebrity endorsements resonate more strongly with generation z (ages 15-20) and millennial (ages 21-34) audiences according to a recent study by University of Arkansas. Youthful celebrities should leverage upon this to positively influence young Nigerians to work in unity to achieve common national goals despite our diversities.
During the #Endsars protest, youths played a critical role in the reform of the security architecture. Nigerian youths should progressively be vocal and leverage upon the use of technology to discard unfavourable policies, create awareness about sound policies, and bring social reforms and improvement in the society.
Insecurity has become a bane to Nigeria’s development for decades now and research studies reveal that the architects and instruments of these vices are youths. Young Nigerians should make up their mind to quit been used as agents of destruction and be changed into national security builders.
According to Jawaher Al-Tuweity, “the issue for many developing countries is one of inequality”. Youths should therefore advance equality by creating opportunities for girls and disadvantaged Nigerians.
The place of religious admonition should not be neglected as we journey into a new Nigeria. Morally upright youths should cultivate the habit of setting positive examples, correcting erring youths while praying for their transformation. This will help in de-radicalizing terrorists, kidnappers, bandits and robbers who are mostly youths.
“The youths need to be enabled to become job generators from job seekers”-Abdul Kalam. With the country’s unemployment rate at 33.3%, there is need for youths to employ the power of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship to create jobs and solve societal problems. A 22 years old Nigerian drone maker, Ignatus Asabor for instance is already advancing this course using local resources to make drones. Many youths are now taking after his footstep to create SMEs, technological innovations and creative inventions to increase employment and project the Nations image.
Sport plays an important role in projecting nations like Brazil, USA and Germany. Since majority of sporting competitions are competed by youths, young people should make efforts to develop themselves through rigorous trainings to win laurels and project Nigeria’s image positively.
Youths are to be at the forefront of service and sacrifice to the country. It was a surprise to me when my fellow corps mates abandoned their duty post, flogged students unnecessarily and neglected national symbols. Youths must assume the responsibility of being patriotic change agents capable of influencing others to always act right.
Finally, according to Thisday newspaper, of the 67.422 million voters who registered prior to the 2015 election, only 31.746 million turned up for accreditation on election days while total number of votes cast was 29.432 million. Youths should actively participate in politics and encourage others with political apathy in order to elect worthy representatives capable of championing the course of a new Nigeria.
“Dear young people do not be afraid of making decisive choices in life. Have faith; The Lord will not abandon you!”-Pope Francis. Work smart OGBONGE NIGERIAN-YOUTHS.