In his inaugural address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy came up with the now famous quote “Ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country”. President John Kennedy was referring to the vital role citizens play in development of a nation when fully committed to it. All over the world, it is known that transformational development is built and sustained when citizens imbibe the culture of community service and volunteerism and see themselves as stakeholders in the development of the Nation. It is generally noted that youths are the main productive class of any nation. This by implication means that anyone in a youthful stage should see himself as one of the major parts of the engine room of any society he belongs. Suffice it to say, that any society that refuses to invest in its youth is not unlike a tree that is being deprived of its major root. This is why any country that has lost its youths to social vices lives like a visually impaired man even though he may sleep with both eyes open. Though the definition of the youth regarding the age bracket varies from one school of thought to another, it could be defined as a group of young people who are in their adulthood stage. Thus, a youth is simply an adult or a fully grown person that is young. Considering the above definition, you will agree that the youths are indeed the engine room of any nation, to which end, it becomes most pathetic to see a society comprised mainly of unmotivated, ill equipped and irrational youths.
It is no longer news that about 60 per cent of the overall youths in most countries in the world, particularly in developing nations, have intensely derailed thereby constituting a huge mass of unemployed drifters of no consequence save in the constitution of societal menace. In Nigeria for instance, during the post-colonial era and thereabout leading up to the terminal stages of the nationalists struggles, virtually all the positions of political heavyweights in the country were occupied by youths who were mostly in their twenties and early thirties. But today, the reverse is totally the case; you will hardly see a youth in his thirties becoming a commissioner in his home state, let alone occupying a ministerial position. Thus, the ongoing profound apathy coupled with complete loss of vision among most of the new generation youths who occupy about one-third of the country’s population calls for an outcry.
On Wednesday, August 12, the world commemorated the 2015 International Youth Day. The International Youth Day is annually held on August 12 to celebrate the achievements of the world’s youth and to encourage their participation in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions in their respective communities. At such forum and opportunity , one wonders why older Nigerians in positions of authority would fail to initiate in concrete terms well thought out and systematic programmes that go beyond soliciting awareness-raising campaigns that would ensure that all the youths are fully mobilized in order to revive the alarming rate of moral decadence, docility, laxity, and mediocrity found among them. Against this backdrop, one calls on the governments, non-governmental bodies, religious institutions, the civil society, and the media to join hands in this timely crusade so that in no distant time Nigeria can boast of a country filled with mainly resourceful and conscience-driven youths. We can, on a consistent basis, contribute our respective quotas by initiating or sponsoring both social and academic activities such as youth seminars cum conferences on education and empowerment, concerts promoting the Nigerian youth as well as various sporting events, parades and mobile exhibitions that will showcase young people’s accomplishments with a view to thoroughly re-orientating the mindset of the said group to their civic responsibility, rights and privileges. The fact remains that the era Nigeria had the best governance was when many of her leaders were in their youthful age. It can be argued that Nigeria was best ruled by the youths. The poser now is where are the real Nigerian Youths with guts? I mean guts for genuine leadership tussle and not gut for the love of the full pocket filled with the crumbs of a looted treasury! What are the youths doing to help restore the image of this country? I learnt that an individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. In a recent survey I conducted through a radio program, young people clearly displayed high sense of understanding of the challenges bedeviling the country, especially as it relates to their
local communities and they were able to proffer one thousand ways on how these challenges can be solved. But that is where it stops, nobody wants to take the lead or show another how it should be done – rather, they all are waiting for “our leaders and governments to solve these challenges. This brings me to one nation of interest – Israel. Israel has seen curious and challenging times but it is one of the most innovative and developed nations in the world today. This can be attributable to the heroic roles being played by its citizens especially the young ones who can be seen in the armies, airports and major facilities in the country relentlessly guarding it against sabotage. Nigeria can only become a super power when young people become more practical and result oriented and move from lamentation phase to action oriented phase. And the best way for young people to do this is through community service and volunteerism. Community service is one of the avenue of service which encourages individuals or groups to offer service to their communities without expecting returns or much reward. Let that be our starting point. We don’t have to wait till NYSC or when we become Senators to begin constituency projects. This new breed of individuals and committed youth organizations should assume a responsibility to find ways to improve the quality of life of those in their communities and to serve the public thus encouraging and partaking directly in Nation building. It is time for the youths to wake up to the reality and forget the theories. It is time for us to act what we want. It is not time to go for what they say but what we need. It is time for us to stand up for Nigeria. It is time for us to come together and support good initiatives that would further the course of this noble country. It is time to create the real order which is ‘change’. We are indeed the true leaders and it is through and within us that the true leaders can emerge. Perhaps, our fathers and mothers have failed us but we shall no longer hold it against them. The real time for the real sacrifice is now. The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective, it demands the sacrifice of the bravest, the humblest, the weakest and the most spotless. It is not the critic who counts and curses; not the man who points out how a strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face was marred with dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasm, great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows that no matter how
rough the road is , the persevering hard working citizen will in the end taste the triumph of achievement. It is he who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who knew neither victory nor loss. The dream of our great nationalists who fought for Nigeria’s independence from the British imperialists must be restored. Their historic exploits needs be replayed. They envisioned a nation anchored on egalitarianism, justice, hard work, fairness and good governance. It is our duty to make change our new order of pursuit. We must arise and obey the call in full to serve with heart and might so that we can build a nation where peace and justice shall reign. In conclusion, we need the wisdom of the old, but they must bow to our vigour. It’s time for the New Generation to stop seeing themselves as too young to contribute to national development or take up political leadership in this country. We must NOW form alliances, participate in volunteerism, offer our free community services and join political parties, and begin to TRANSFORM things from WITHIN.