BEING A PAPER DELIVERED BY MALLAM LUKMAN OLAYIWOLA MUSTAPHA AT THE KWARA STATE CHAPTER OF THE NIGERIA UNION OF JOURNALISTS (NUJ) AT THE STATE SECRETARIAT ILORIN, ON THURSDAY, JUNE 28TH 2018. THEMED: YOUTH INVOLVEMENT IN GOVERNANCE, A PANACEA FOR SOCIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

PROTOCOLS 

In any society, the youth populace remains the major arsenal that is instrumental to the construction or destruction of such society; depending on how such society manages its youths.  They’re like a double edged sword, they can either make a ceremonious, tranquil, egalitarian and prosperous society or a disastrous one. 

Just like a goldsmith, all relevant stakeholders, parents, government and corporate individuals among others must rekindle, redirect and lead the youths towards placing premium on communal socio-economic advantage. 

Statistics has shown, the youth makes over half of Nigeria’s population and similar case can be assumed to apply specifically to Kwara as lack of accurate data will lead us to a spurious affirmation. As a homegrown Kwaran however, my knowledge of the demographic distribution of the state got me convinced, the larger percentage of the populace are actually the youths. 

Despite the abundance of these youths, majority of whose intelligence is superb, uncommonly hardworking and energetic with a very strong surviving instinct. These potentials are left largely untapped to communal advantage, neither have we harnessed them to accelerate socio-economic development in Kwara state. 

Scholars and policy makers have empirically established a nexus between youth unemployment and insecurity, which remains a prominent social vice that affects our social, political and economic lives. If we must be safe,  then we must get our youths productively engaged in a dignifying manner and that is why I am a strong advocate and proponent of social rebirth, where our values of hardwork, decency, dignity of labour and perseverance is reawakened. 

An economic rebirth where we will reignite our enterprising skills and entrepreneurship abilities Andrew a political rebirth, where there would be equal opportunities for all to thrive, regardless of creed, ethnicity, socio-political inclinations or any form of artificial segregation. 


Social development in itself is about putting people at the centre of development in the state, it is not about merely designing programs aimed at benefiting them but making them major drivers of their personal and societal development. It is high time we make a shift away from the conventional youth empowerment to actually engaging the youths, we don’t have to reduce them to mere beneficiaries of ridiculous empowerment but get them engaged in the processes 

In many states of the federation, with specific emphasis on Kwara, we’ve a large deficit of basic social and infrastructural amenities, we don’t have issues of non-existence of these infrastructures but we’re bedeviled with the menace of poor maintenance culture, which is often deliberate and at the long-run, we would have to do a total overhauling that will gulp bogus amount of our scarce state resources. Often times, majority of these youths are incapacitated to be engaged in the total overhauling, given the technical and institutional wherewithal barriers, when we could Have hitherto engage them (idle youths) in the maintenance of these infrastructures at a lower cost that will even maximize our internal efficiency and productivity as a state and above all a sense of belonging. 


Yes, our internally generated revenue is reported to be the highest in the North Central Nigeria region in recent time. As plausible as that may appear, I look at the contributions of the Kwara youth populace to our revenue generation and I am convinced we can achieve more without unbearable tax burdens. Looking around our state capital, hundreds of our youths are at Challenge repairing computers, mobile phones and other gadgets, they’ve been there for years and the market started, developed to where it is today through self efforts of the youths. This is just a prototype of the wonders Kwara youths are doing independently to survive. Wouldn’t they do better if they’re engaged sincerely and holistically to do more? 

We’re now forced to live with the sad reality of a society where hardwork and decency is less appreciated amongst the youths. While the morally deficients now becomes rave of the moment, sitting us all confidently on a keg of gunpowder unperturbed. Beyond political considerations, we must put the society first and in doing this, we must be ready to invest into and believe the ability of the youths to productively impact our socio-economic lives.


Continued neglect of or taking undue advantage of their weaknesses expose us to all forms of social and economic risk which we can’t afford to bear. It is thus in my principle not just to empower youths based on what I feel he/she needed, but I’ll always engage them to know what they are passionate about and see possible ways of assisting them to be the best in the positive things they love to do, in the interest of their personal growth, social development and economic prosperity. 


If Kwara’s sad narratives must be positively turned to an advantage and a catalyst to catapult us in all ramifications towards a prosperous, tranquil and assured future of prosperity. Then some of the following highlighted broad realities must be logically addressed.


SECURITY

Security of lives and properties world over have transcended the usual unhelpful reactionary approach to crime fighting to unconventional, preemptive crime fighting with heavy reliance on intelligence gathering and ActiveX the best time community participation.


Solving plethora of security challenges requires the active and physical participation of the youth in all stages. Without wanting to unduely and unfairly stereotype the youths, it is however truism that the youths are the major impectus and raw-materials of social vices.


UNEMPLOYMENT

One of the major causative why our State is where we are today is largely due to the overt and covert negligect of the youth by successive governments, especially in policy formulations from the gestation stage only to be coerced into the scheme as ‘beneficiaries’.


We’ve consistently underrated our phlegmatic youths, who are smoking with ideas that can within a short period of time turn the tide. Any serious policy maker and implementers cannot but progressive engage the youths and put them at the driver’s seat in tackling the skyrocketing scourge of unemployment. A society with heavy population of idle (unemployed youths) will definitely have high rate of insecurity among other social-vices to contend with.


If we must realistically win the battle on social vices likely insecurity, unemployment must be tackled vociferously to a successful and logical conclusion. A positively engaged youth is the catalyst and a bridge between lofty ideas, dreams and reality.


AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is now a singsong across the nation and our dearly beloved State isn’t left out in the bandwagon of rudderless and insincere movement lacking a clear-cut holistic approach. Kwara with its large fertile expanse of arable land should surely be one of the leading lights not only in farming, but also value addition processes at the secondary and tertiary stages of production.

Without us domesticating the transformation of our farm produce into finished goods, through the setting up of factories, then our farming activities will be to our detriment and advantage of the buyers of the raw-materials. While we’ll inturn locally import unemployment, insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure among others to our State.


EDUCATION

In all the major religions, cultural and traditional norms, the importance of education is equitable to humanity itself, as perdition is starting in the face any uneducated society. Conventional education has proven impotent in addressing youth unemployment in our society, we cannot absolutely rule out the significance of conventional education.


 We need to however redirect our focus and pay beyond a cursory look into availing the youth affordable and applied society need unconventional education that will better equip them and give them a vintage position amongst peers.


The externalities of these on our society is making the youths social developers as they would use the acquired unconventional education to apply and solve societal problems while also adding value to the system.


It is my humble belief, that the Kwara of our dreams, isn’t a pipe dream, rather its is within our reach. All is required to birth a tranquil, prosperous and egalitarian society where justice and equity will be the hallmark is what I call the “REBIRTH” which in few weeks time will be availed the generality of Kwarans and residents.

Thanks for the audience and it is my prayer, we’ll all partner towards birthing a society we can be proud of.

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