How Young People Can Boost or Weaken National Development
Editor’s note: Paul Oyewusi submitted his following personal story to Global Young Voices. You too can submit yours to us here.
A few years ago, I was discussing with a group of young men development in Nigeria. I chose then not to say much because the conversation was filled with negative comments about Nigeria. And a few days to the 2019 presidential election, I was with another group of female folks when a young lady by the name of Ranana, in her senior year of college, told me she was traveling to her hometown to vote only because dominating political parties were pouring money in a competitive manner to buy votes.
These two stories are mere examples of many other youths giving up on their country. It is quite obvious that a high percentage of the youth populace has lost faith in the country's transformation. Whatever is happening to Nigeria now is not uncommon. Countries like the U.S. and China have gone through similar phases, but they overcame challenges to become world-leading nations.
The youths always play a major part in any nation's development. I would like to bring up a few points that put the youths at an advantage over other age groups in national development.
First, the youths are strong. Show me a strong man or woman and I'd show a hard-earned future.
Second is the ability to make things happen, especially thanks to the digital age.
Third, and as I say at any slight opportunity I find to talk about the youths, they are the greatest resource of any nation. The political class understands that, which is why candidates prioritize their votes.
THE ROLE OF NIGERIAN YOUTHS IN NIGERIA'S DEVELOPMENT
Not many Nigerian youths believe the country is incomplete without them, and that is a problem. They think of themselves as aliens to the nation. The disinvested mentality alone is enough to inflict great harm on Nigeria.
Nigerian youths need to stop complaining about the government and do something about the things that move them. It is known statistics by now that a government cannot be singlehandedly responsible for a country's development. There is great need for the private sector, NGOs to come in and help. It's bewildering how many youths think working in an NGO is a waste of time and resources because it doesn't yield the millions they hear about daily in the media. I run an initiative, My Nigeria Network, that is focused on raising young people to be leaders of sustainable solutions and we have reached many in just a short while. But I keep hearing from many young people who think I'm wasting my time, trying to persuade me to go find a better work to do and be comfortable.
Whatever it is you want to do that will be of help to the nation, be it starting a foundation or a money-making business, there is no perfect time to start. Always believe you are capable of making things happen right now regardless of what you are comfortable thinking. Don't bury your potentials because of fear of failure or because you're overwhelmed by the system. You are desperately needed for the transformation of Nigeria.
Lastly, we have nothing to lose by just giving our best shot and do things right. It is quite common to see youths feeling detached from others' efforts. Their nonchalant attitude actually contributes to Nigeria's regression.
In conclusion, it is true that the Nigerian government needs to triple its efforts to provide an enabling environment for the development of the nation, but you, too, my friends, have vital roles to play. Nigeria cannot be built by foreigners. It can only be built by Nigerians.
"Your pride for your country should not come after your country becomes great; your country becomes great because of your pride in it." -- Idowu Koyenikan
© Paul Oyewusi, 2019
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV