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International Youth Day: Nigerian youths and rising political awareness

The large proportion of youths in the world, which constitutes about a quarter of the world’s population, has placed them in a vantage position to contribute their quota to the development of their various countries. The International Youth Day provided an opportunity for them to explore their potential, reports OZIOMA NGWU

 

Youths have always been seen as the leaders of tomorrow but in recent times, they have started to take this tomorrow into their hands. To this end, Nigerian youths particularly in most urban centres are demonstrating increased social and political awareness ahead of the forthcoming general elections scheduled for next year. This awareness is coming as Nigeria joined the rest of the world community to mark the 2022 International Youth Day.

Annually, August 12 is a very important date in the global calendar that is set aside to celebrate the achievement of the youths and to encourage them. It is a day that the global community sets aside to celebrate the youths. The day was recognised by the United Nations (UN) when they passed a resolution towards creating it in 1999 at the General Assembly.

The importance of this annual celebration going by information from the UN is to raise voices against any injustice or discrimination happening in the world against the youths who form a quarter of the world’s population. The large population of youths in the world shows that they need to be given a chance to vocalise their thoughts and explore their full potential in a fair and unbiased society.

 

Creating awareness

This year’s celebration has the theme ‘Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages’. The theme shows there is a global need for this day which is used to highlight the achievements and create awareness on issues facing the youths such as physical or mental health, education and employment and these issues need to be addressed.

Without the enabling environment for proper development of the youth, they tend to become rebellious and opt for choices which are neither good for their development nor for their country.

 

In line with this year’s theme and the rising awareness of the Nigerian youth in the affairs of democracy and politics in the country, they are taking back the country not just for themselves but for future generations.

Young people

While trying to recognise the contri-butions of young people and volunteers who are working towards a better society and are raising important issues that need more attention of the society, there are painful signs and frustration with the situation in Nigeria which show that instead of celebrating, the average Nigerian youth is currently in a state of frustration.

 

This sorry situation shows that every Nigerian needs to join hands together to proffer a solution that will help the youths to continue to grow and do great things for the future as they are our hope. Mr Jolayemi Farouq, former student representative, Council of Communication and Information Sciences Student Association, University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) said the annual celebration of International Youth Day is a very good initiative which helps to highlight the various achievements of youths around the world and in Nigeria today with the recent surge of youths rising up and demanding inclusion in different fields of endeavours in the country.

 

“This year’s theme is very applicable to Nigeria of today because we need a country that is working for all ages. This is because the country belongs to everyone and not just a set of people who have put themselves in very high positions; the youths need to realise this so as to develop their potential in this country,” he said.

Youthful awareness

Farouq further commended the recent surge of youthful awareness in the political space of Nigeria, citing previous electoral statistics which had low turnout of youthful participation as compared to the Nigeria of today.

 

“This shows the high level of political  apathy in the Nigerian youth and the rest of Nigeria as a whole before this new dispensation. The interest being shown by the youths presently shows that Nigeria is heading in the right direction. It also shows that the youths are tired of sitting still while the country is stirred wrongly; the youths want to take charge and change the outlook of the country after being fed up with excuses and failure.

I find this very encouraging as a youth because it is only when we involve ourselves that our leaders would be moved to do the right thing,” he said.

 

He continued that there were worries about social media as it continued to mislead people and distract them from their main point. He said that there was a need for awareness which might help people to see that social media was not reflecting the real world because a lot of people got carried away on different social media platforms.

“Yes, there are theories in mass communication that believe the media represents the real world but this might not be the reality in this case, the youths need to leave social media and come into the real space and world to make the difference, this is the only way we can get our country back,” Farouq remarked that the social media frenzy might not necessarily affect change compared to grassroots engagement but stated that there has been a rising awareness because of it.

Farouq further appealed to the government to create an enabling environment to allow the youths enhance their capacity because the youth make up the core of citizenry and capacity building of this faction of the country would help to build the country as well.

 

Capacity “The capacity of the youth is built when they are given an enabling environment to jump start their career as long as it is legal and developmental to the society.

I believe with the necessary enablement the country would be able to move forward; this is all the government needs to do. Neglecting the youth in every way would not help the situation of the country,” he said while speaking on some of the challenges faced by youths in the country like lack of employment and capital to start their businesses.

 

Further discussion with youths on the streets shows the frustration of these young victims which is fuelled by the gap between the promises made in the past without fulfilment. The youths expressed desire to be actively involved in the running of the country and decision making.

 

Welcome development

Another youth, Grace Ezeugo, a marketing student at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) said she was unaware of the International Youth Day but finds it as a welcome development after reading about it and continues that she is proud to be a youth in the Nigeria of today with the growth in the thought process of the youths.

 

“I am very happy about the youthful awareness in Nigeria democratic scene because the youths are the ones who need the development, the jobs and economic developments. We are the ones that need to invest in our future and build for future generations.

So, I am happy about this new awareness from my fellow youths around Nigeria,” she said. Another youth, Vivian Simon, also expressed satisfaction with the recent surge of political awareness from the youths in the country. “This country is ours and we need to start making our marks known by lending our voices no matter how little it might seem.

 

The youths have created a movement that they believe strongly in, this is our little way of saying we are tired and we can do it. I believe it’s time for the situation in Nigeria to change and this is our time to make that difference,” said Simon who spoke passionately about the recent interest that the youths in the country were showing in the political dispensation.

 

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