A new Nigeria: Harnessing the power of the youths

By  Tiwalade Omotosho NIGERIA is currently undergoing a birthing process. Its emergence as a new and potentially powerful nation will send shock waves globally. An The post A new Nigeria: Harnessing the power of the youths appeared first on Vanguard News.

A new Nigeria: Harnessing the power of the youths

By  Tiwalade Omotosho

NIGERIA is currently undergoing a birthing process. Its emergence as a new and potentially powerful nation will send shock waves globally. An essential player in this transition process is the youth.

Youths are the evolvers of economic, social, political, and cultural transformation and the drivers of change. According to the 2019 National Youth Policy, Nigerian youths were classified as people between 15 – 29 years.

With a youth population of 27 per cent, as reported by statista.com, Nigeria is more youthful than each of the top three global economic powers – the US, China, and Japan. Unfortunately, this advantage has not significantly influenced this nation’s economic prosperity, social unity, and political stability.

It is critically essential to re-educate every Nigerian on the role of the youths in the building and development of the nation.When young people are ostracised from political processes, they contribute little or nothing to influence political decisions.

A key outcome is the weakening of political systems’ representativeness. Nigerian youths must be engaged in formal political processes and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s politics to make a long-term difference.

Inclusive participation in politics is a fundamentally democratic and political right and is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies while developing policies that respond to the specific needs of the youths.

For the youths to be adequately represented in processes, political institutions, elections, and decision-making, they must know their rights and be empowered with capacity and knowledge to participate meaningfully at all levels.

As the 2023 general elections draw near, opportunities should be given to the youths by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and other political stakeholders to participate in the build-up to the next general elections.

Also, education on the national electioneering process should become part of the core curriculum for all students in primary and secondary schools. In recent years, Nigeria has become an incubator for some of Africa’s most prominent startups.

As of December 2020, Nigeria had more than 154 million internet users – the highest number reported in Africa. This dominating internet presence, over time, has produced a generation of tech-entrepreneurs, mainly youths, whose innovations and businesses are helping to improve the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond.

Today, digitisation has brought a fundamental shift in the global economy, extending the limits of innovation and redefining the boundaries of international trade.

Nations like China, Japan, and the US promoting a digital and innovation-based culture have pioneered the global shift toward knowledge-based industries and have enjoyed astounding wealth and job creation while transforming how people live and do business.

This transition is made possible by substantial tech entrepreneurship activity in an enabling environment that includes private-sector and government contributions. With the recent social media ban and stringent policies, Nigeria could miss out on innovations and inventions by great youthful minds migrating to more accommodating nations.

In response, the government should negotiate with youth tech-entrepreneurs representatives where grievances will be shared, and lasting solutions will be proffered to create the supportive environment needed for technological advancement. Also, more funding should be made available to tech-entrepreneurs and startups to encourage more youths to participate in technology.

China has proved to the world that booming trade relations rely on a well-performing manufacturing and agricultural sector. Their phenomenal emergence started about 40 years ago with an industrial revolution to make them a world power. Currently, China has the highest agriculture and manufacturing output globally – dominating trade in Africa and many other countries.

This feat was achieved through an abundant supply of labour and natural resources. Similarly, Nigeria is blessed with great resources and a large and youthful labour force. However, due to mismanagement and underutilisation of resources, the country still performs poorly economically. Global economic trend charts show a gradual drop in the contribution of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.

Also, the unemployment rate, affecting many youths at 33 per cent, ranks Nigeria second behind Namibia on the global unemployment rate list. By prioritising the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, Nigeria will witness a phenomenal economic resurgence within a few years.

A booming manufacturing and agricultural industry will guarantee a significant cutback on the high unemployment rate of the labour force. By extension, this will reduce the high crime rate amongst youths, thereby making Nigeria a safer place to live.

Furthermore, the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector can be one of the most lucrative areas for the Nigerian economy, if adequately explored. It is perhaps the most formidable unifying sector, as its influence cuts across this multi-ethnic country.

The sector’s demographics showed that many of those involved are youths, as creativity and innovativeness are heightened during the youthful stage. However, several bureaucracies and bottlenecks have made this sector unattractive to contributors and investors.

According to statista.com, this sector contributed only 0.3 per cent to the GDP in the first quarter of 2021. This output is far below what was contributed to the economies of the US, at 3.2 per cent, and other economically viable nations globally. Its constant neglect and maladministration have limited its potential.

Through funding, adequate infrastructure development, collaboration with foreign investors, and grassroots support for aspiring youth, Nigeria’s arts, entertainment, and recreation sector will catch up with its foreign counterparts in no time.

In conclusion, the youths flourish when surrounded by people and policies that value them by recognizing their contributions and respecting their rights. Youth involvement in the nation-building process increases effectiveness and contributes to youth development.

In the long run, Nigeria will be repositioned as a global economic force. Recognition of the significance of youths, and the fact that Nigeria’s future is tied to their development, is an essential ingredient for our social, economic, and political stability.

Omotosho, a concerned Nigerian youth, wrote via: [email protected]

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