Nigeria is the most populous African country and has one of the largest youth population in the world, with about 70 per cent of the population under 35.
The size and youthfulness of the population offer great potential to expand the country’s capacity beyond what is currently obtainable. The population structure has been widely described as a huge socioeconomic asset.
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While there are obvious setbacks in the youth engagement in the country to harness the many benefits high youth population offers in national development, there are ways the youth can participate in rescuing Nigeria from its many challenges – ranging from insecurity to economic meltdown. As the world celebrates International Youth Day, Daily Trust highlights six ways Nigerian youths can turn things around in the country.
Abstaining from crimes
In the last couple of years, criminal activities perpetrated by the youth have become more rampant than ever in Nigeria. Banditry, terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping, cyber-fraud, inter-ethnic/religious violence are among the thorny issues the government is trying to address.
Unemployment and lack of meaningful empowerment by the government, among others, have been traced to an upsurge in such crimes among youths.
Therefore, there is an urgent need on the part of youths involved in these dastardly acts to retrace their steps while the government tries to engage unemployed youths in decent means of livelihood.
Participation of youths in skill acquisition programmes can be another vigorous role they can play to rescue Nigeria from the current socioeconomic crisis.
It can be said that the one of the top scourges slowing Nigeria’s development is limited youth participation in innovative skill acquisition programmes. This factor is not unconnected with get-rich-quick syndrome prevalent among youths, thus adding to the myriad of the nation’s problems.
Participating in electoral process
Since the return of democracy in 1999, the average voter participation has never exceeded 50 per cent of the total registered voters in the country.
Statistics obtained from CIRCLE reveals that only about 50 per cent of young people voted in the 2019 general election, which means only half of the youth population actively took part in electing leaders.
Going forward, young people have an important roles to play by actively taking part in the electioneering process, such as scrutinising the political candidates and choosing the best to lead various elective positions from federal to the local government level. As 2023 general elections draw near, it is imperative the youth are sensitised to the need for participating in the electoral process and rise above the unhealthy electoral practices such as ‘vote trading,’ voter apathy, among others.
With the unemployment rate estimated at an all-time high of 33 per cent as of 2020, Nigerian youths have been receiving end of the nation’s poor economic system. Youths, therefore, must try to work hard through legitimate means to improve their living conditions in spite of the government’s failures.
Corruption is anathema to national development and its effects cut across all spheres. Despite the abundance of natural and human resources in the country, corruption has been a major factor obstructing a sustainable development.
While corruption is manifestly rampant among public office holders, the youths are not left out of the vice either. Students in higher institutions of learning, and in some cases, young entrepreneurs or employees, have been found to be engaging in corrupt practices.
For a prosperous socioeconomic and political development to be guaranteed in the country, Nigerian youths who are the “leaders of tomorrow” must shun corruption in its entirety.
Jettisoning inter-ethnic/regional/religious animosities
Almost every region, religion and ethnic group in the country contributes in fanning the embers of disunity in one way or the other.
Nigeria has continued to slip into a state of disarray due to the inability of Nigerians to shun their differences and work towards a better country in the spirit of oneness.
The youth in Nigeria can break the shackle of hatred and disunity that has been crippling the country and come together to rescue the country through commonly-shared values.