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CYCLE OF DEPRIVATION: BETWEEN NIGERIAN LEADERSHIP AND THE YOUTH CHALLENGE

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Tell me and I may remember, show me and I may forget, involve me and I learn: Those were the words that ghastly struck a proximate region of my hippocampus as I hovered round the crucible, encapsulating the socio-political challenges the youth face today, which in-turn was borne-out from the crystallization of a thinking process.

The toiling of the present age seems to achieve an unprecedented feat, as the labor of our heroes past shall never be in vain. I might not be a chief commander to authorize national strategies, but I have a pen mightier than sword in which the billet of my mind shall be expressed via writing.

Being meticulous and assiduous, I had realized that there is a significant dimension of the leadership predicament in Nigeria which bears critical scrutiny as it pertains the intimate connection between youth development and national development. One side to this disjuncture is that the Nigeria post-colonial leadership has consistently been made up of old men, who have weakly supervised the alarming and massive disenfranchisement and unemployment of the Nigerian youth.

Nigeria is confronted with an acute manifestation of how the youth can be diverted from their national responsibilities and leadership destiny by unending and rampant centrifugal forces of religion fundamentalism, ethnicity barrier, political jingoism and economical bantingism. This is a nation that undisputedly and urgently need a creative rethinking of its development dynamics in a manner that recognize the tangible and imperative injection of a pragmatic policy framework, that will invest heavily in the youth, not only as the basis of the required human capital development, but equally as a pool for leadership regeneration.

Globally, the youth have always been recognized as a potent force like “a juggernaut” for national development. Even in its negative and reactionary form in which the force for social change championed by the youth using the full complement of social media technologies and exuberant energies that have been frustrated for far too long is a clearer indication of the potent forces embodied in youth for national development.

Obviously, a new emergent and integrated Nigeria can be fully realized only if its demographic advantage that is “large population of youth” is mobilized and well equipped to help to drive Nigeria integration, peace and development agenda to a strong and robust system. This democratic vision erupts and emanates from the belief and conviction that a strong and accountable leadership and successful integration, needs to be anchored on political participation: the investment in youth, and the mainstream of greater potential at which the population of the youth are an essential pillar.

As noticeably observed, I had come to realized that whenever the economic importance of Nigeria is recounted, crude oil, natural gas, and ample solid minerals are chiefly presented as signifying Nigeria’s wealth. Yet, the true wealth of Nigeria resides elsewhere, if the youth are given the chance for in-depth participation, then its can abundantly put it at a more strategic resource advantage. Consequently, if this resource is painstakingly nourished and developed, in a civilized world where knowledge, creativity and dexterities out rightly determine the competitive edge, then Nigeria would achieve a quantum jump onto modernity.

Conversely to the positive reflection of youth potentials, the facial conformations of the youth in Nigeria reflects abject poverty, criminality, spiritual weariness, deviance, hopelessness and political lethargy. For political elites whose objectives is personal aggrandizement, the youth bulge which others celebrate as a demographic gifts, to be exploited in the wake for national development. These political canker worms constitutes a mere apparatus for political vendetta.

In this condition, the youth in Nigeria have no tomorrow to lead, they are rather confined to a hopeless and anomic present where well-being is squandered on the altar of political expediency. There are now myriads of youth militias – some set up, others- self generated.

As I am still obliged with the responsibilities that the youth face today, I had excerpted some worrisome questions placed on the political desk of political elites, which are:

🗣In what sense have the youth been integrated into national decision making process?
🗣How many political party in Nigeria have a youth wing that contributes to internal party policy?
🗣Is there any longer active students’ movement that would challenge any national injustice and political shenanigans?

Conclusively, we crave for a practical and pragmatic policy framework that channels the recognition of the role of the youth into national development thinking and eventual evolution of the developmental state in Nigeria, and not the theoretical policy framework for rethinking the crucial connection between good leadership and good governance.

*Meduoye Adeyinka*

*Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta*

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