A Paper Presented By Prof Mrs. Victoria Adaobi Obasi, Acting Vice-Chancellor, Imo State University, Owerri On The Occasion of The Commemorative Lecture & Awards On Imo At 40 by GCFN Consult & Nigerian Eye Newspaper at Imo Concorde Hotel on 18th day of June, 2016
Today marks a turning point in the annals of the history of Imo State that we are assembled to Analyze the Sociopolitical, Economic Persuasion in Nigeria and to proffer a lasting solution on the way forward and I am nominated to present a paper.
I have been enslaved by the organizers to talk about the YOUTHS in relation to the theme of the discourse.
Who are the youths?
According to dictionary the youth is the quality or state of being young. The part of life following childhood; the period of existence preceding maturity or old age. The whole early part of life, from childhood, or sometimes from infancy to manhood.
Just as the family is the bedrock of any nation so also the youth is in the shaping of the politics and Economy of any nation.
Nigeria as a nation has not been fair to its youths, tell me is it in education, employment etc. Has the youths ever taken the front stage in our policy formulations?
Our educational system is begging for attention from those whose responsibility it is to do the needful. From public primary to Tertiary institutions, it is one sad story to another because funding has been its Achilles heels, and in the absence of this; the products from these institutions will become half baked and may not challenge their counterparts from better equipped and well funded institutions in other parts of the world.
It pains me as a mother to note that the only period our youths are “gainfully” engaged is during electioneering when opponents of their sponsors and perhaps elope with ballot boxes all in the bid to showcase their excessive exuberance. The Nkpor episode and Niger Bridge-head brouhaha where youths of south East extraction were unfortunately mowed down by security Agents who misinterpreted an harmless procession to connote an affront on the authorities, is a case in point where our youths were left vulnerable without proper guidance.
If our youths were gainfully employed, their employers would never have allowed or given them permission to engage in any procession else they will loose their jobs, is that a way to treat the youths of any nation?
Has it really troubled any of our distinguished personalities here seated, that there is a high male drop-out in schools in the South East because our so called Guidance Counselors shirked their responsibilities in advising our youths that seek you first the kingdom of education and all other things will be added unto you.
Other sane climes are always proud of their youths who also excel in all their chosen career and in return, pay back to their country for giving them a good lease of life, not in Nigeria.
That is the more reason our youths perish in the desert on their way to Spain for greener pastures, move into Malaysia either to join drug rings, become drug couriers or get involved in the kidney trade all in the bid to become super rich and come back to Nigeria after “hustling” to flaunt their ill-gotten wealth.
But let me ask have our youths been given the platform to showcase and actualize themselves, if the answer is yes, how and if no, why?
Do you know that our youths are exploited, abused and left in a state of confusion?
As leaders and opinion moulders it is high time we brought our youths together to inform them that war of intellectualism is better than the war of brawn. We should not pretend that all is well with the youths because, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop and if you give the devil a parking space, he will convert it to a garage. Have we pondered over the high incidence of robbery, kidnapping, cultism, pipeline vandalization, drug abuse, rape and other indecent and juvenile behaviours. Prostitution is on the rise because parents have failed in their sacred duty to counsel their children on the virtues of living a Godly life. Though it takes two to tango, all patrons of these female students who engage in prostitution should hide their heads in shame as the lady you are patronizing is someone else daughter while you shield yours from others, utter hypocrisy.
I don’t want to sound indecorous from the speech I am presenting today, but I am pontificating from the aspect of a mother, a foremost educationist, an opinion moulder, a counselor and a Christian.
If we leave our youths quite vulnerable, the society stands to loose because, I told somebody that the way things are going, the crop of youths of this generation may one day invite foreigners to bid for Nigeria and sell the country to the highest bidder as they are gradually loosing confidence in this country called Nigeria, something fast should be done.
I will sound a note of caution to those who are superintending the affairs of this country that they have continually taken the youths for granted and should avoid what happened in the Maghreb Region of North Africa called the Arab Spring, I am not a prophet of doom, but I still repeat that as a mother I feel the pulse of the youths more than any other being.
Let us rescue them before it is too late.
THE WAY FORWARD
All concerned, educationist, technocrats, civil society groups, opinion molders, Captains of industries etc should do the needful and act in ways related to the areas they cover to assure the youths that all is not lost.
The youths should also denounce all misdemeanors which places them in a bad light before the society so that the trust expected will be rekindled by the publics.
The youths should be counseled on the tenets of self-sustainability which is the hallmark of the trail blazing achievements of some South Easterners in entrepreneurship, Banking, Information Technology, Politics etc
Let the youths know that hard work, respect, innovativeness, inventiveness, is what Igbo is known for, there is short-cut to success.
The clear message for us all is that any nation that neglects it youths is doing do at her own peril as the child is the father of the nation. Those who swing our destiny in their hands as puppets should know that there is always a day of reckoning. God is Watching!
I thank the organizers (GCFN Consult & Nigerian Eye ) for the wonderful space granted me to speak and wish them a fruitful and most rewarding event.
To fellow speakers God bless you all.
Congrats Imo State at 40!
Prof. Mrs Victoria Adaobi Obasi MNAE, FCON
Ag. Vice –Chancellor Imo State University, Owerri