Youths, apart from being leaders of tomorrow, are highly respected for their roles in the socio-economic and political transformation of any society. They drive the economy in every field of endeavour and constitute a segment of the society that supplies a greater percentage of the workforce.
Indeed, the youth is a catalyst for socio-economic and political growth and development which is achievable through the vitality, creativity and excellence associated with youthfulness.
In the young and creative mind of the youth lies the ability and strength to create a glamourous city out of a desert, transform a dying economy like ours into a giant economy that will give life and hope to other economies of the world when these abilities are explored.
However, a closer look at the activities of youths in our society today paints a completely different picture. One may begin to wonder if the youths presumed to be the leaders of tomorrow are ready to step into the heavy shoes of leadership or carry out the herculean task associated with it.
Today, the youths, instead of concentrating on creative and developmental ventures, engage in vices such as cybercrime, terrorism, kidnapping, rape, armed robbery, cultism, pipeline vandalism etc.
Hardly a week passes by without media reports heralding yet another mayhem unleashed by the youths who have allowed themselves to be cajoled and deceived by highly placed individuals in the society. Imagine what will become of the country when every youth begins to dance to the tune of crime? Nigeria will obviously become a nest for unrest and criminality which will consequently scare away investors and permanently keep her in economic retrogression.
It is pertinent to agree with the fact that not all the youths in the country engage in crime-related activities. Some of them are engaged in creative things in different sectors of the economy to the good of the country. However, there is no doubt that most of the youths who do not engage in crime only sit back and expect the government to put food on their table; but when they don’t get that satisfaction, they engage in all manner of recreation, partying, obscene fashion and always complaining of the degenerating state of things in the country.
Although, there is nothing wrong with the youth socialising or engaging in recreation to spice up their daily activities, spending more time on social activities like recreation and the resort to quick means of making money as opposed to hard work leaves a cause for concern because it has drastically increased youth unemployment.
Youth unemployment rate is increasing on daily basis and this is not only peculiar to Nigeria. In Ghana, for instance, it was reported that there now exists an association of unemployed youths (AUY). The Nigerian situation also poses a serious challenge and the government at the various levels are making frantic efforts at tackling the menace.
The National Bureau of Statistics puts unemployment rate in Nigeria at 21-23 per cent, which is on the increase. Unemployment is a great frustration for individuals and also an issue of national concern. The obvious truth is that the government in Nigeria and other parts of the world cannot provide jobs for everybody. This is why the Chartered Institute of Management during its 16th Stakeholders Annual Public Lecture stated that the high rate of unemployment in Nigeria can only be addressed through adequate skill acquisition.
The overwhelming importance of skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development cannot be over-emphasised. This is because, it facilitates economic self-reliance, most especially in Nigeria with its vast population. Unemployment in this country has become a cog in the wheel of progress with attendant effects in armed robbery, prostitution, thuggery, cultism and other social vices. These can be addressed by youths and graduates having a dependable trade or skill to earn a living and make our economy a honeycomb attracting growth and development.
Historical antecedents show that skill development has been man’s means of material transformation from time immemorial. For development to take place, it takes trained hands and minds to apply knowledge and techniques effectively.
For instance, in the medieval times, apprenticeship became a normal method of entry to a crafting guide; the industrial revolution brought with it the factory system with far-reaching historical event and increasing application of science with an emphasis on industrial skills. This shift demands a wide spectrum of technical and professional personnel, craftsmen, technicians, engineers, production specialists, managers and lots more.
This is why the Nigerian government, in order to boost the morale of the Nigerian youth, established the National Directorate of Employment (NED) in 1987 with the mandate to deal with the problem of youth empowerment through the establishment of vocational training centres nationwide.
If only the youth can rise up to the occasion of skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, Nigerians will be better for it. All that is required is for the youth to start thinking of what they can do for this country to grow and not always blaming the government for their woes. The best time to take this shot is now. It is too hasty to give up on the current leadership both at state and federal levels.
“An unexamined life is not worth living,” said Socrates. The youth should examine themselves and direct their energies towards what will make Nigeria great again. This can only be done through meaningful engagement in entrepreneurship.
Mgboh writes from Port Harcourt.