The area of youth management and skills development for a better transformation of youths has continued to reverberate like a vicious circle in our national affairs. It is also undoubtedly one area that has achieved little or no meaningful development. We have heard it said so much that it has almost become a mantra that youths are the leaders of tomorrow and the pillars upon which a new Nigeria will stand but how well has this age long phrase been entrenched in this part of the world is one question begging for answer and which has left so many youths of which I am not an exception disconcerted.
It is an understatement to say that, for the fact that we are today been forced to contend with the menace of terrorism, crime rates that has lately risen to its highest acme, kidnapping and other social vices is as a result of the many untapped potentials deposited in a great number of Nigerian youths hence, they have resorted to other means in order to make ends meet irrespective of what it may cost provided it can pay their bills and put food on their table, every other thing is secondary. This is further vindicated by the fact that all crime suspects and the passengers in this wagon of terrorism are all actively ‘occupied’ by the youth population. In a nation whose active population is unemployed and roaming the streets without any place to test their skills meaningfully, not expecting the scourge of crime will be at best living in a fool’s paradise. At this juncture, it is pertinent to ask and attempt an exhaustive answer to the issues that has persistently led to the bane of adequate skill development of the Nigerian youth both in the home and in the Diaspora.
Can it be said that Nigerian youths are the dullest and as such, the idea of skill development should not arise as one cannot develop what lacks any prospect of development as it will amount to a waste? Or is it that the Nigerian government has abandoned its teeming youth population? I hope not so.
In a random oral questionnaire conducted by a non- governmental organization, Change Makers International whose sole objective is the attainment of a society where youths despite the scourge of unemployment are gainfully involved in one skill or the other for the general achievement of their God’s given potentials, many youths complained of discouragement on the part of their parents as the major threat to the attainment of their full skills especially at the early stages of their development. A good number blamed their parent’s bid to protecting them thereby not allowing them to venture into their chosen vocations or their areas of skill like acting, sports, entertainment etc. as the reason why they have become what they are today. Unfortunately enough, as they grew older, these dreams died away and those talents remain forever as dreams though never given the atmosphere or opportunity to test their capabilities or try their hands on new things. In a nutshell, the family as the first agent of socialization of the child also plays a role in sabotaging the skills in the young child that all things being equal, should have led to an all round development of that child, were it given an avenue for those skills to be harnessed.
A greater percentage blamed the inadequate skills development of the youths on themselves. Many, out of this whole, blamed fear as a great threat to the full actualization of their skills. Anxiety, they said has always been difficult for them to control whenever it sets in and before one could say Jack Robinson, they are defeated by their anxiety and the rest is history.
Apart from the problems of anxiety and ‘fair’ sentimental opposition from the family although in good faith, some others blamed the deficit in the attainment of a sound skill development among youths to lack of the atmosphere to express themselves or an enabling environment for the proper harnessing of their skills. There are many youths bristling with huge skills and talents in many rural areas but lack of access to the urban centers which houses the few youth and skill development centers has continued to make that dream fulfilled in the breach or ending up in a futility. Even for those who habit some of the so-called urban centers especially in the northern states of the divide, the problem is almost the same. The sates of Lagos, Enugu, Rivers, Cross river and sometimes Kaduna is known to be the hub of the many skill acquisition centers, talent hunt shows etc. however so many youths who are domiciled in other areas though urban centers not close to the few states above have been left out as a result of distance and most times transportation costs. Imagine a young student in far away Maiduguri who share a passion for writing and has just been invited for a writing seminar in Lagos state? Not only distance, but also the risk involved and the cost of transportation will in most cases cost him an appearance at the seminar. Let’s not talk about the pressure from the parents.
Some other youths blames the situation on the lack of government’s commitment to the development of its youth through the ministry of youth and development which they said have always chosen to sit on the money allocated to the ministry for their development at their own expense and for their own selfish gains and for this representation, I have chosen to label this problem the menace of corruption in high places as also inimical to a passable level of skill development among youths.
In conclusion, youth and skill development is one area a government cannot excuse for a total delivery of the governments project of total transformation. In order to arrive at a society devoid of crime and other social anomalies, the all round development of the youth is imperative to say the least. There should be a synergy among the family, the government, Non-governmental organization, the organized private sector and other stakeholders in the development sector in order to arrive at a total skills development and proper re- orientation of the teeming youth population.
The writer [email protected]_silky