Every August 12, the United Nations and its member nations together observe the International Youth Day, where the problems, challenges and prospects of the youth as a viable partner in the society are largely X-rayed. The day is also used to seek out ways by which the potential of this important segment of society can be tapped for positive development.
With this, nation-states that make up the UN have used the International Youth Day as a means for measuring the effectiveness of the country’s youth policy/agenda. Naturally, this has helped these countries to build on the gains of such policies as well as mitigate against pitfalls that may arise either by commission or omission.
These countries have developed an effective youth policy that ensures that a huge percentage of their youth population aren’t left behind in the race to nick up opportunities availed them as citizens of that country. This is in tandem with Section V of the UN Secretary General’s Five Year Agenda, which seeks “to deepen the youth focus of existing programmes on employment, entrepreneurship, political inclusion, citizenship and protection of rights, and education, including on reproductive health.”
Thus, while nations like Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Japan and China rank high in the inaugural Global Youth Well-being Index, which gathered connecting youth-related data in 30 high-to low-income countries in five continents that represent nearly 70 per cent of the world’s youth, assessing and comparing the state of young people’s well-being around the world, Nigeria ranked 30, below nations like Vietnam, Peru, Colombia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda!
Sadly, we cannot fault such an index as the state of the Nigerian youth justifies such. When we look at the parameters used in assessing such an index, one will be mortified at the poor levels of inclusion of the Nigerian youth in decision-making processes in this country as well as financial inclusion. This is a country that prevents a young man at the age of 30 to 39 from becoming governor of a state or president. This is a country where the highest policymaking organ today, has its average age at 45 years. What is so absurd is that whereas the youth is trusted to vote from age 18, they are not trusted enough to lead or be a part of the decision-making process.
Yet, it is not because the Nigerian youth is lazy, or under achieves, No! The Nigerian youth is amongst the brightest, resilient and is a born trailblazer. Like Archimedes, give him a place to stand and he will move the world.
The Nigerian youth, no doubt, has largely been marginalised, he has been made to feel so inconsequential in the scheme of things that like the eagle in James Aggrey story, he has now become a chicken, happy to peck at the feed thrown at him by those who marginalise him whereas he ought to rule the skies!
Honestly, the marginalisation is deliberate! First, they are denied access to quality education, a tool with which they can make better decisions for themselves and their community and then when they manage to access such, it is neither a qualitative one as they lack the required skill to compete in a rapidly globalised society. Even with the education and the skill, they are still denied access to a number of opportunities, such as finance, soft loans, quality health care and housing. These obstacles majorly lead to shattered dreams, which in turn rewire the thinking of the youth propelling them into a life of crime and despondency.
It is deliberate because the Nigerian elite want to perpetuate their hold on the nation and on the people. They want to foster their hegemony for their own selfish gains such as perpetuating their dynasties. Thus, only their children get the best, others can tag along in the mire!