THE STAGNATION OF THE NIGERIAN STATE: THE FAILURE OF THE YOUTH?
Alfred Rewane, a Nigerian businessman once said: “Yesterday we looked forward to a better tomorrow, but today we mourn for the loss of a better yesterday. However, I choose to say yesterday, we looked forward to a better tomorrow casting our hopes and placing our faith in the promising Nigerian youths full of strength, vigor and unlimited potentials, but today, we not only mourn the loss of a better yesterday, but we are also still grieving over the heart shredding failure of our Nigerian youths and as it stands, our mourning days are not over yet. The youths meant to be our hope have become a burden we have to bear. The supposed burden bearers have become a burden themselves. The catalyst meant to fast track our progress into prosperity has become inhibitors consistently dragging us into the mud over and over again. As a result of this, the Nigerian state is stagnant.
Judges, ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you here today to prove and assert that the stagnation of the Nigerian state is due to the failure of the Nigerian youths.
Stagnation according to the Merriam Webster dictionary means to stop developing or progressing. And according to the 2009 Nigerian national youth policy, a youth is a person between 18-35 years of age. This means that within the confines of the Nigerian state and during the course of this debate, a youth is a person whose age borders between 18 and 35.
First, according to the National Baseline Youth Survey carried out in 2012, the population of Nigerian youths was estimated to be at 64 million in a country of about 182 million people. This means about 34% of Nigerians are youths. If the children and teenagers who are below 17 years and naturally dependent are sidelined from this statistics, the percentage of youths skyrockets to
This is the point, young people; youths are the engine of any economy, the pivot of any nation and the heartbeat of any country. This is because they constitute majorly the workforce and the consuming class of any economy. But what do we do when the heart of a nation is not properly functioning? What do we do when the heart instead of propelling the body forward lies fallow preferring to be placed on life support? What do we do when Nigerian youths have failed in their duty of propelling us forward choosing to stagnate us instead? In fact, science has proved to us that when the heart stops working the body cells begin to die as well. Similarly, when Nigerian youths, the heart of this nation fails, our country cannot but dwell in stagnation.
Secondly, it is not new how the nefarious and violent activities of the notorious Boko Haram sect has affected virtually all sectors of the country’s economy contributing its own quota to the stagnation of the Nigerian state. Interestingly, according to a report published by the United States Institute of Peace on June 9, 2014, the majority of Boko Haram members are youths. Sadly, these youths have over the years become responsible for the death of over 20,000 and the displacement of over 2.3 million others from their homes as reported by the New York Times. The ripple effect of this insurgency has spread far more than any of us can state here or possibly explain.
Also, youth violence in the country is on the rise. Cultism, armed robbery, thuggery, rape, pipeline vandalization amidst many others is now prevalent among Nigerian youths. While the southeast is battling with Naija Delta militants, the southwest is fighting Fulani Herdsman and the north, the Boko Haram sect. Youths that are meant to constructively construct the country are now the ones deliberately destroying it. Instead of looking for means and ways to save the crumbling economy, they’d rather prefer to join hands in unison and stagnate it.
Judges, ladies and gentlemen, can we then see that the stagnation of the Nigerian state is due to nothing else but the failure of the Nigerian youth.
Third, it is an established fact that the rise and fall of any country is dependent on the success or failure of its youth. Perhaps, a comparison between a nation that has functioning youths and Nigeria will further reveal this truth. In India, the average age of an employee is 28 as reported by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), one of the country’s largest private-sector employees. This implies they have a young workforce possessing innovative minds and increased efficiency. This has led huge investors into the country providing all-round growth for the country. We can see that this is so because of the input of the Indian Youth population. But in Nigeria, the failure of our youths has left our beloved country stagnated.
My opponent might opine that Nigeria is stagnant today because of the corruption of our leaders who are not youths. But I need to remind them that every adult out there today was once a youth. They didn’t form their philosophy of life when they became adults. They did it right from their youths. Besides, it is the youth of today who will eventually turn out to be the leader of tomorrow. If they failed as youths, then we should only expect the same when they become adults.
They might also opine that there are many other factors militating against the Nigerian youths such as unemployment and underemployment. This however is not an excuse for the youths to laze around and consume two cups of garri without planting one stem of cassava. We have talked about the problems of the nation long enough. Let the youths look inward and add value to the society not complain of how the society is not adding to them.
In conclusion, General Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of the federal republic of Nigeria was right when he said, “youths constitute Nigerians only hope for a real future”. However, when our youths themselves are not even real, the future for us is gloomy. Until the youths take their stance and take up their responsibility as the determinants of the progress or stagnation of any country, the failure of Nigerian youths will always be equal to the stagnation of the Nigerian state.