Arguably, Nigeria politics as it stands is dangling between progression and retrogression, without any clear-cut vision for the younger generation. Some people may want to argue that we are moving forward as a nation, but in reality we are static. This is reflected in the various socio-economic challenges bedeviling the country, including rising unemployment rate, growing ethno-religious crisis, increasing crime rates and environmental degradations amongst others. We must stop pretending about our problems.
It is worrisome to note that the kind of politics we play in this part of the world is short of global standard and must not be passed to the younger generation, if Nigeria is to attain the much desired greatness and sustainable development.
Our political actors across different divides promote hatred, animosity, corruption, and disrespect for the rule of law, which have all affected the growth of the country. We place individuals, institutions and parties above the Nigerian state. When in reality, Nigeria is bigger than all of them combined. If care and necessary actions are not taken, it means there is possibility that the sweat of our heroes past might be in vain.
One of the greatest problems facing Nigeria today is youth unemployment. Our tertiary institutions churn out thousands of graduates every year, to struggle for jobs that have become scarce in the labour market.
It is also unfortunate to note that these graduates are ill-prepared for the needs of the labour market, as our curriculum does not prepare students for needs of the job market. Hence, many of the youths become unemployable and jobless. This is bound to have attendant consequences, which the society will have to deal with – top of which is insecurity. High youth unemployment rate has serious implication for national development, social cohesion, political stability and national security.
It therefore, becomes imperative for government at all levels to work towards securing the future of the young people. The Nigerian government must strive to improve the situation of young people and provide them opportunities to participate in the decision-making process and governance of the country.
We need to realise that youth empowerment as well as their involvement in governance is key to peace building and national development. Youth are no doubt the engine room of every nation and their role in nation building cannot be overemphasized.
It is on this premise that I wish to commend the National Assembly for the recent passage of the Not Too Young To Run bill and the Independent Candidacy bill. The passage of this bill represents a breakthrough in youths’ agitation for participation in the governance of the country, as they can now vie for political offices. We can only hope that the bill will scale through the state houses of assembly and get presidential assent.
As the World marks the 2017 International Youth Day (IYD) and in line with the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Youth Building Peace’ I urge government and corporate bodies in the country to create more opportunities for the young people to develop themselves and contribute to building more inclusive and peaceful Nigeria. If we want the youth to be agents of change and contribute to peace building, we must provide them opportunities and involve them in governance of the country – the lack of these make them vulnerable to violence.