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Youth As Leaders of Today
25. May 2018 at 15:11
The age-long adage which says "Youth are the future of tomorrow" is fast becoming obsolete in this our modern age as youth are championing a paradigm shift towards the way our modern society look at them.
Kailash Satyrarthi, an Indian Child right activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner once said "The power of youth in the commonwealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future, no segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm, and courage of the young people"

According to UNESCO, youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community...Youth is a more fluid category than a fixed age group. However, United Nations, for statistical consistency defines youth as those persons between the ages of 15-24 years, without prejudice to other definitions by member states. African Youth Charter places youth between the ages 15-35 years. Coming back home, Nigerian Youth Policy places youth as those between 18-35 years.

In a paper titled Youth and the future of Nigeria delivered by Professor Attahiru Jega at the 5th Convocation lecture, Nile University, Abuja. "Youth population was estimated at 61,306,413 or 31% of the total population of 193,392,517 of population projection as at 2016, making it one of the highest percentage of young people in any country" He argued that during the first republic, youth were empowered, mentored and carried along but from second and subsequent republics, there seemed a rapture to have occurred as youth came to be generally neglected and relegated to the background

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the fact that youth are entitled to everything from the Government. This unhealthy attitude that youth are completely entitled to a special consideration by the government is nothing but a mirage most especially for African countries. There is a need for a paradigm shift in how youth see themselves. The destiny of any modern country now lies on the propelling force of their youth.

It is not uncommon these days that an average Nigerian youth spends his or her tremendous energy irresistibly entangled in the cobwebs of social media, football gists, celebrity gists and other frivolities instead of channeling the same gusto to personal development. I often wonder why an educated Nigerian-probably an unemployed graduate, will be busy arguing which celebrity is richer but still wallowing in penury perhaps not perturbed by his present predicament. This is when I understood in total that poverty of the mind is the worst form of poverty. That is where sound education comes in- I don’t mean being a graduate but my emphasis is on sound education.

During his convocation lecture delivered on 1965, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s advice to the University of Nigeria Nsukka graduates went as thus... "...Your stay in this university has given you the intellectual quality, the professional confidence, the social poise and the spiritual strength, which are the tools employed by man for adaptation to his environment...the marble is available and the chisel is here. It is for you to fashion out your design for a living’.
Even with the marble and chisel available, some youth will decide to play the role of that servant in the Holy Bible who was given the least talent by his master while others were given more, instead of investing the talent to make good returns went to bury his talent while others invested and made good use of their talents.

One of my favorite author on financial education, Robert Kiyosaki was quoted as saying "Your mind is your greatest asset, be careful what you put into it" I totally agree with him. The mind is the seat of all our ideas, plans, actions, motivations and inspiration. What does our youth put into their minds? An average Nigerian youth will yearn to enjoy all the good things in life but ask him how he intends to achieve the lofty dreams, it's better you tell that to the marines! This is because the mind is bereft of concrete ideas. Ideas that will make the dream work if commensurate action plans are set in motion.

It is due to this paucity of well-coordinated approach to empower the youth by the government with the attendant rise in unemployment rates that gave rise to different Foundations, Agencies, NGOs to close up the lacuna. One of such is The Tony Elumelu Foundation whose aim is to empower young African entrepreneurs to contribute meaningfully to Africa’s prosperity and social development. Another platform noteworthy to mention is Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), an initiative of United States Department of States whose objective is to educate and network young African leaders through free online courses in various topics affecting the lives of African youth. The more interesting aspect is that there exists several of these platforms where one can key into for one’s personal development on any chosen field of endeavor.

Recently, I was opportune to be part of an online conference on Agro-business for Agropreneurs and potential Agropreneurs where I was thrilled at the new grounds visionary youth are breaking in the field of agro-business with their avant-garde ideas. In fact, after the jaw-dropping presentations by the resource persons with pragmatic illustrations, one cannot but agree that agriculture is the new oil! However, one thing is paramount- the need to invest time, energy and little money in acquiring the basic skill and education required to succeed.

According to Robert Kiyosaki ‘ most people never get wealthy simply because they are not trained to recognize opportunities right in front of them’. I, therefore, challenge fellow youth to strive to develop your mind in your area of interest. When the mind is developed adequately, these opportunities will be recognized with the 'eyes' of the mind. This is your marble and chisel you need to create a future for yourself. The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. There is no better time to begin than now. Nunc coepi!
Cite This Article As: Kenechukwu Ugoh-ezepue. "Youth As Leaders of Today." International Youth Journal, 25. May 2018.

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