Beyond quelling protests: Time for productive youth engagement
From October 8, 2020, Nigeria witnessed an unprecedented revolt of its youth against police brutality, bad governance, injustice and whatever constitutes the bane of development to the nation.
Since its rise to democratic rule from military dictatorship in 1999, the country whose population is predominantly youth, has been ruled by leaders from its 2.74 per cent population of old people between 65 years and above.
Meanwhile in 2019, 43. 69 per cent of the country's population was between the ages of 0-14 years and 53.57 per cent of the population between 15-64 years old.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, released on the second quarter of 2020, shows that the worst-hit segment of the county's population by its unemployment crisis are youths with over 13.9 million of its 21,764,614 unemployed citizens currently jobless.
With such a high percentage of young people unemployed, a significant population of its youth is apparently poor and needy. It is also apparent that while Nigeria has failed to plan for its youths, its mostly elderly leadership has systematically shielded them from participating in governance to chat their own cause.
Although educated, talented and hardworking, the average Nigerian youth has been caught in the web of an older generation that eats into his present, and a greedy political class that eats into his future, thus effectively voiding the maxim that "youths are the leaders of tomorrow."
It is therefore not surprising that Nigerian youth rose up with the EndSARS protests to display the augury of imminent chaos if the current trajectory of maladministration, insecurity, injustice and systemic failure is sustained.
For anyone who cares to listen, no nation neglects such an energetic, young and talented population without consequences. One of such effects is the disappearance of patriotic zeal and resurgence of nihilistic tendencies such as were in display during the protests. While the looting, arson and killing of innocent citizens, and security personnel is condemnable, they are a reflection of how mean spirited and disrespectful the Nigerian state has become to human life and its own corporate existence.
As the struggle for survival gradually becomes a street fight and mindless agitations flood every part of the country, the need to take steps towards de-escalation has become more urgent as the situation portends grave danger not only to the citizenry, but also the corporate existence of the country.
Although the government ill-advisedly adopted the use of excessive force to quell the crisis, the long term solution to such agitations is rarely a gun-toting one. It is therefore imperative that government ensures youth inclusion in public governance and rapid industrialization of the country to create jobs and keep the youth busy and away from the streets.
Nigeria’s economy must offer hope to its young population; hope of recovery, sustainability, growth and gainful participation. Government must therefore revisit its economic policies that directly affect the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians as that renders them helpless in the face of skyrocketing market prices, and forms a gradual build-up of a vengeful outpouring that manifests as looting, arson and killing.
Avenues must also be sought, in addition to the provision of employment opportunities, to engage youth in productive activities. The country's budget to the Youth and Sports Ministry must be revisited to encapsulate youth empowerment and mainstreaming of national goals for youth in the day-to-day running of the country.
© 2015 The Abuja Inquirer | Newspaper. Designed by G E Springfield