SIR: The EndSARS protest that brought along with it what Fela called, “sorrow, tears and blood” to many parts of Nigeria, is an indication that things are not sitting right with our youth. For a very long time, the youth have been taken for granted. They have been excluded from governance, the educational sector has been bastardised, no attention is paid to sports and the unemployment rate is going higher on a daily basis.
Unlike in climes where opportunities are provided for the youth to explore and put their God-given skills and talents as well acquired knowledge into positive ventures, the reverse is the case in Nigeria, as they are mostly used by politicians to achieve their selfish political ends. Those who are not used as political thugs, find themselves in other nefarious activities like cyber fraud (bioreports bioreports), kidnapping, and robbery, among others.
Though people have attributed youth involvement in criminal activities to many factors, the high rate of unemployment is definitely number one, after all it is often said that ‘an idle hand is the devil’s workshop’, and a man who is hungry, is an angry man.Now that the youth have waken from their slumber and are asking questions, it is also time for the leaders to do the needful and one of the ways of doing this is through constructive engagement. I am particularly happy that Ogun State government has started this process.
Few days ago, youths in all the 20 local government areas and representatives of youth organisations, interest groups and unions in Ogun State, gathered in Abeokuta, where they had one on one discussion with the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun. In a no holds barred, they asked and even questioned the governor on some of his policies and programmes that affects them.
It was interesting to see the governor give answers and in some cases explaining why he took certain decisions and implementing some policies. He did not only explain policies and programmes of his government, he also drew the youth’s attention to some of the programmes put in place like the Anchor Borrowers’ and Graduates Unemployment Scheme, which they would key into and make a living from.
Abiodun used the occasion which coincidentally was the National Youth Day, to launch the Ogun State Youth Empowerment scheme (ogunYES), where 5,000 unskilled youth, 250 from each local government area, would be trained to acquire skills in any vocation of their choice. He also informed them of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution going on in the state and the need for them to leverage on it.
One is happy because the meeting was not all about governor taking to the youth. Speakers like Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, a social entrepreneur and founder of Rise Network, Apostle Lawrence Achudume of Victory Life Bible Church and Chief Imam Akeem Akanbi of the Olabisi Onabanjo University and of course the winner of this year’s BBBioreports, Olamilekan Agbeleshe took time to educate them on potentials that exists in the country and how they could make the best out of it.
They enjoined the youth to change their thinking, believe on themselves, organise and aspire for leadership positions as they cannot gain without venturing.
I am particularly happy with the ‘father-children’ atmosphere at the meeting and the manner which Governor Abiodun provided answers to their questions. Now that that the youth have woken from their slumber and are asking questions, it is time for the leaders to do the needful to avoid a repeat of the unfortunate incident. One way of doing this is through constructive engagement on a regular basis and most importantly, making the country conducive for all.
- Elijah Udofia,
Laderin Estate, Abeokuta.