Security is one phenomenon that requires an all-round stable environment to operate and the lifeline for continuity of the nation. Every nation is keen about its successful survival and would do anything possible to maintain good security which is the basis in the continuity of any nation. But at the same time the rudiments that would secure a nation must be put into very serious consideration in the entire nation’s development and security strategies or might as well be planning for its failure.
The opposite, insecurity, is always in a power tussle with security and largely attributed to youth unemployment. Youths constitute a large proportion of Nigeria’s population but despite their critical role in nation building, it is often observed that the country has not invested seriously in youths, thereby making them an army involved in unprofitable activities.
According to recent census figures, Youth contribute about 60 percent of Nigeria population and about 70% of the youth population are said to be unemployed.
The youth form the engine room of the labour force and represent the future of any nation. A vision of prosperous, peaceful and technologically-advanced society is therefore unrealizable in an environment where youths are not properly groomed and positioned. This is because the energy, skills and aspirations of youths are invaluable assets that no country can afford to squander.
Empowerment is a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities and in their society, by acting on issues they define as important
Youth empowerment means different things to different people. In Nigeria it is mostly ill-defined and wrongly perceived by parents, the youth themselves and the government. Parents as major stakeholders often perceive youth empowerment as the sole responsibility of the government. The youth themselves neglect self-development and empowerment, wholly depending on white-collar jobs; while the government sees youth empowerment as an avenue to initiate policies and programmes although the programmes make little impact on their lives because they are soon hijacked by corrupt government officials for self-enrichment.
Youth empowerment simply means all positive efforts taken deliberately towards improving the lives of young people; efforts channeled towards developing the capacities of young ones to draw out the best out of them, bearing in mind that they are truly leaders of tomorrow.
It embeds efforts from parents, youth and the government to develop young people attitudinally and creating conducive atmosphere for realization of aspirations which will translate into reduction in youth unemployment, criminality, human capital flight, and above all instigate national development. Bearing in mind the benefits of youth empowerment and the adverse effect of its neglect, greater commitment is called for on the part of all stakeholders.
Parents are heads of families; a family is the smallest unit in a society. Families are blocks that make up the structure of a society. This is the very first place a child has contact with, it is where characters are moulded, attitudes are formed and discipline inculcated through good upbringing. It is upbringing which forms the right basis for other empowerment. Most social vices perpetrated by youth today are a consequence of parental failure to train their children and set good examples in conduct. Good parenting goes beyond providing food, clothes and sending children to school. It is the foundation upon which other empowerment efforts, either from individuals, the youth or government, are built. Train up a child in the way he should go, is an injunction.
However, it is a nauseating fact that many parents send their children to special examination centres, buy results for them, bribe for admission instead of teaching and inculcating in them self-reliance, honesty, integrity, hard work and diligence. I say this without fear of contradiction: No youth from a good family will ever compromise to pass examination, bribe to gain admission, or pay N350, 000 to get a federal civil service job. Good parenting empowers a youth with basic ability to face challenges and overcome them.
Youths also as stakeholders in youth empowerment have a lot to do to complement efforts from parents and the government. We should not be carried away by exuberance and the saying that we are leaders of tomorrow. Leadership is earned. We need to change our poor attitude toward self-improvement and personal empowerment. Many youths these days spend more time on social networks chatting while their education suffers. Many graduates also do nothing to improve their own lives after school, feeling that being graduates automatically qualifies them for well-paying jobs in federal civil service, NNPC or other blue chip companies.
I expect young graduates to ask themselves these questions: what is wrong in acquiring entrepreneurial skills that can make them self employed? Aside being a graduate what else can I do to improve my life without having to brandish my certificate? Our nation today is demanding what one can offer not the certificate. We need to face reality. No government in the world can meet the employment needs of its citizenry 100 per cent, and how much less the Nigerian government bedeviled with corruption and leadership problems. Having this in mind will help us as youth to add value to our lives, to attract values and also embrace self-improvement and personal empowerment for self-reliance to take our destinies in our hands.
Government, as the machinery of the state for policy formulation and implementation, has a great responsibility in ensuring the youths are empowered. It is no news that whether in the past or now government often uses youth empowerment programmes as avenues to enrich few Nigerians and the mass of the youths for whom they are intended do not benefit directly or indirectly from them. Youth unemployment has been on the increase as Nigeria’s higher institutions continue to turn out graduates yearly without an expansive, vibrant and formidable labour market to accommodate them.
This explains reasons why many a frustrated youth resorts to criminal acts for survival since the government is ready to negotiate with any group of criminals in the name of democracy and for the sake of pretended peace. Youth empowerment is a veritable way of government controlling crime and maintaining peace in a nation. With empowerment the population of jobless youths is naturally reduced and security assured to a greater extent.
Meanwhile the result of neglect paid to youth empowerment by the various past government administration is now staring Nigeria in the face. From all indication, it is majorly the failure of government to address society’s most challenging issues such as persistent poverty, teeming unemployment and poor quality education that had made many youths to be engaged in armed conflicts, political violence, other social vices and the recent insurgence in Nigeria.
A quick glance at the picture of insurgence, will simply explain that many youth with their imposing population, strength, and exuberance are the major symphony in the threat facing the nation with very minute aged (influential) ones at the background manipulating these neglected youths to perpetrate their negative activities.
It is high time the youths are encouraged to realize and exploit their full potential through access to productive employment and decent work which make up the prerequisite for poverty eradication, sustainable development and lasting peace. The proposed Youth Development Fund which is under the youth empowerment programme would be very timely in this regards especially in providing finances for the young people who have bright entrepreneurial ideas and initiative that can boost the economic development of our great nation.
A situation where youths after several years of acquiring education could not get jobs, necessitate some of the negative vices the country has continued to witness in recent times like armed robberies, cultism, prostitution, drug addition, hostage taking, gangsterism and lawlessness.
Governments at all level should ensure that more funds are provided in their annual budget for youth development programmes that can lead to job opportunity for them. More skill acquisition centers should be established to encourage youths to develop their talents and reduce the dependence on white-collar jobs. Go-to-Farm policy would also be a very attractive idea to ensure mass-food production and other allied products from agricultural outputs which will help reduce the rate of food importation while increasing export revenue capacity.