Youths have so much energy that can’t simply be bottled up or locked, internally. It is this powerful force which makes the young people to rightly merit being referred to as ‘youths’, in mind and in body. Every single young man and woman spends a huge length of time daily, reflecting on potential achievement that interest him or her. (Everyone does this too. But I beg to focus on the youth in this discussion). The foregoing is driven by ‘the spirit of the young’ that is constantly seeking expression. What happens if this category of persons, with such easy-to-go-wild spirits, are left with bad instances of how to achieve a target that interest them?
It is a fact of history that the majority of the young people in a society, can only be left alone unguided, untrained and unsupported at grave consequences. It will equally suffice to point out another fact of history which has held true and is readily verifiable by unfolding events in our clime: a deliberate or in-deliberate actions or inactions, which eroded the enabling environment that supports the citizens, especially the youths, to readily find essential good examples that inspires and empower them to channel their energy toward worthy causes, sooner or later proves fatal.
It’s heartbreaking that the individuals named as suspects by FBI and those convicted by the authorities of Saudi Arabia, are all young persons. It’s disheartening because they represent mischannelled creative energy. And the aftermaths are worrisome. Everyone is affected irrespective of class and tribe. This therefore calls for urgent actions to be taken in the right direction.
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The most important work at the moment is to implement reforms that will ensure that the creative energy of the citizens are channeled to undertakings that promote development and well being of the country and its citizens. Young people are therefore, rightly noted here as one of the fundamental stakeholders in the prevention of the malady.
Why this is a phenomenal Challenge And The Gaps That Need Urgent Filling
No society can withstand the crisis of having a growing population of young persons who are challenged by what they see daily, to believe that the surest means to get out of financial hardship is to engage in illegitimate businesses, that fetches quick money that can be sprayed around like paper. We don’t find Dangote sleeping on a bed decorated with currency bills. We don’t find the likes of Tony Elumelu bathing with Dollar notes. But young people find folks on social media doing these things and more. What does that teach them? What does that inspires in the minds of our youths, if and only if they are led to believe that the source of such money are not clear or questionable? Call this scenario, a case of young people inspiring fellow youths to regard or even discard legitimate work as a waste of time and some of them embracing illegitimate businesses as the surest way to financial breakthrough. The abundance of such instances, and the increasing difficulty of finding legitimate works that keep growing number of youths busy; out of the street; and that gives them a sense of purpose, is not helping matters.
People readily subscribe to practical examples. Word of mouth achieves very little, if not nothing, when there’s serious disparity between what is preached and what the preacher does. In this regard, Nigerian youths have been overwhelmed by the reality of being in want of public figures whose actions and words align in some critical respects. Especially, in cases where such alignment would have inspired observers to uphold positive behaviours. This is not to suggest that there are no public personalities who are doing great and commendable deeds. It’s rather a recognition of the dire need for more commitment in this regard and an attempt to equally point out an aspect of leadership failure that continues to create land mines. That’s, corruption. It is noted that the consequences of corruption are more dire than the immediate hardship caused by mismanagement/ embezzlement of public funds. As people live daily in observation that nothing is done to people who cart away public funds, beyond the usual noise in the media, that dies down before any meaningful prosecution is made, they tend to regard it as worth experimenting and even normal. Note again that some of those entertaining it as normal are youths, whose lives will influence others too. You award a contract to a person, the next thing is, the person buys a car first before starting the job which ends up uncompleted, and no one is called to account. This gives more people reasons to experiment a wrong as normal, and to pass the ideology onto others.
A country such as our is affected more by what the majority of persons does or believe. It seems there is a conspiracy of indifference towards bad acts that fetches money, among parents and our society. Otherwise, people should not be hailed whose source of wealth are unclear or obviously known to be questionable. For instance, Mr/Ms. “A” suddenly comes back with huge stacks of money and become the talk of a hungry town for praise and admiration, even though the source of the money is obviously a bad one. Others will certainly find incentive to try what Mr/Ms. “A” did or even a more dangerous one.
To forestall this trend, the following are recommended:
1.0 Creation Of An Enabling Environment
An enabling environment as used here, is one characterised by events, things, individuals, institutions which inspires positive behaviours; lead and empower the citizens to treasure and pursue worthy undertakings.
In a previous article, one reader’s comment was that citizens deserve what they get. As hard-nosed as this idea could be viewed, it’s frank and one of its connotations is that Nigeria got the bad image it got in recent weeks because it harboured factors that breeded such abhorrent ventures. This is not intended to undermine the efforts of too many well meaning persons who are working to make things better. This having been clarified, let’s say In other words, that Nigerians reaped the fruit that Nigerians sowed. The questions then will be, Just how was it sowed? And What can we do? Since we are focusing on solution here, the previously noted causes in preceding sections will suffice, leaving us with the question ‘what can we do?’.
1.1 How individuals can Help
At the individual level, accepting inherent responsibility bestowed by one’s life, by one’s society and as a parent or as a leader or as a citizen, is imperative. Parents, grown ups and leaders should lead their lives and go about their interests, in the consciousness that they owe the society a duty to provide younger individuals good examples, that will guide them in framing their own lifestyles and conducts.
Young people are a reflection of what they learn from their environments. The narrative should not just end in the decry of the bad behavior of young people, as it now apparently does. It should extend to guidiance of the young people; to offering self as practical examples of how they should conduct themselves as good citizen and how they should legitimately go about the pursuit of personal growth and success. They need this so much.
But then, this is not an attempt to give those who like to blame others when they do wrong, a valid excuse to continue to do so. when people live their lives by perpetually having others to blame for their wrong deeds, they lay the foundation for endless cycle of bad conducts. There must be a point where one is responsible for one’s actions.
“We cannot solve [a] problem by thinking in the same way we did when we created them” Albert Einstein. It is equally pertinent to note that “A problem and its solution, are both joined together in the same continuum”. This clarification is made so that it is understood that a problem is solved by all parties to it collectively, for it to be effectively put to rest; that blame does not lead to a solution but tends to exacerbate problems. Blaming has a way of holding back the ‘blaming party’ from seeing how he/she/they may possibly, be partly responsible for an occurrence; and could also deter collective initiative needed to effectively address an issue.
The dominant thoughts of an individual who engages in a deliberate behaviour that causes a crime centers on how to to satisfy a selfish interest. Whereas, the dominant thinking of an individual who cares about upholding the welfare of self, of others and of the society centers around ‘how do I ensure that, in my dealings, others are treated as I would be happy to have them treat me?’. Within this simplified thinking patterns that drives selfishness/ greed and selflessness / patriotism, lies the stake of the youths also, in facilitating the successful project of giving Nigeria the good image everyone will be proud of. And it underpins they reason both the young people and the elders should hold themselves as equally responsible for the state of affairs.
When social behaviour is driven, not just by how to get all of one’s interest, but also, by commitment not to make other persons and the society worse of in the process, it inevitably provide other persons, who are watching, a good example, on what should and shouldn’t be done. If the the commitment of the majority, are in this regard, it ultimately drives the dominant behaviour in an environment.
For instance, there are neighborhood wherein you check into and you are like, is this still part of the country? There you find that the streets are clean and not recklessly littered with all sort of dirts, the environment is considerably serene and things are well organized. Those places are so, not because they are inhabited by gods. On the contrary they are not. At the bottom of the observed difference in what is seen in such places, lies the dominant behavioural pattern of the inhabitants of such places. This will easily also explain why a neighborhood may be dominantly crime infested.
How stakeholders chose to react to an issue has a way of either making things better or worse. The youths, the elders, the leaders and the led, all jointly have roles to play in the regard of addressing the challenge.
The earlier everyone starts to hold self responsible, and to really show true commitments to help change the narrative, by setting self as an example to others, the better for the society.
1.2 An empowerment based education system
This falls under the category of ‘events and things ‘ necessary for attaining an environment that qualify to be regarded as an enabling environment. It is proposed that:
1) Strict checks should be put in place by authorities, duely enforced to forestall the possibility of schools outsourcing of technical works students are meant to do. For instance, the idea behind the introduction of entrepreneurship and craft related subjects in our school system, is commendable. But when schools buy from the markets, and present to external examiners, products which students are expected to make, as part of their assessment, does that help the students? Why should the students not be able to make those things if those skills where actually taught them. The proposed strict checks should aim to prevent compromising of technical training in our school system.
2) A public private partnership should be initiated, which will ensure the conduct of annual summit in all schools in the country. The guests for the summit should be drawn from different sectors from time to time. The aim will be to breach the gap of lack of practical ‘how to’ knowledge.
The problem of our graduates and young school leavers is not just that they can’t find a job. The problem is that many of them don’t know or don’t have what employers expect from them; do not know how to get a job; and don’t know how to create a thriving venture.
In the past, employers come to colleges to hire. Today that’s no longer the case. But to what extent has our school system successfully moved away from the practices of the old era in which graduates chose job offers in college, to adapt relevant methods that are necessary to addressing the need of the present age wherein graduates and school leavers need to find jobs or create a thriving jobs? Addressing the perceived gap in this question should form the purpose of the proposed public private initiative for schools. And it will help to reduce youth restiveness and economic related crimes in our society.
1.3 Credible Institutions
It was noted above that people readily subscribe to practical examples. It is emphasized also that no society can withstand the crisis of having a growing population of young persons who are challenged by what they see daily, to believe that the surest means to get what they want, is to engage in dangerous manipulations or to act badly.
It is not in the interest of the society that critical institutions and the process of their operation are compromised, not to mention that youths are used as ready tools in perpetrating some of the act. The reason is simple: They too may want to do it.
Deliberate effort should be made to strengthen our various public institutions to discharge their duties without undue interference. Compromising the electoral body, the judiciary, legislature etc; the police engaging in ridiculous acts, amount to sending dangerous signal. A highly credible agency for fighting economic related crimes will reduce the rising number of people who engage in money laundering and drug trafficking. Credible institutions challenge greater number of people to live above board.
2.0 Refining of Empowerment Schemes
Nigerians are very enterprising and creative. it is recommended that government empowerment schemes should focus more on partnering with entrepreneurs, with scalable ideas, across the country, to start and grow the firm. Government’s involvement should be in the area of funding and helping to engage experts that will work with the entrepreneur and assist in refining the idea and building the firm through the turbulent stages. When the venture is relatively stronger, government should leave the private sector to manage it. This will fast track large scale job creation across the country, grow GDP and tax income and reduce crime over time.