NEWS DIGEST – Often times, when the youth clamor for recognition and a chance at political leadership and governance, it appears to me like the situation of a son of a restaurateur begging the waitress for a meal. This is expecially because to my mind, the youth already have what it is that they crave for within their reach but have failed to take ownership of and steer their collective manifest destiny as leaders. Moreso, it is probable that the inability of the youth to take possession of that which they seek is perhaps because their pursuits are rooted in ideologies which are as perverted as they are selfish. Little wonder the holy book says “You ask and do not receive because you asked with a wrong motive.

Today, the older generation sees the youth as people lacking in capacity, easily distracted, largely incompetent and prone to misplaced priorities. As far as they can tell, evidences abound to suggest that ours is a generation, ostensibly given to the trappings of affluence and luxuries. Now, while one may choose to make a case for ourselves and be tempted to lay the burden of responsibility squarely at the feet of the older generations, especially given their abysmal failures in their traditional roles as mentors and models for the younger generation, there is little doubt that young people have themselves to blame for the larger part in their willful ignorance and continued complacency towards nation and capacity building.

A retired Military Officer from the south-south region of Nigeria, who became a military Governor at the age of 25 once confided in me, his disappointment with the youth of today, owing to what he described as our generations’s failure to show capacity for leadership and governance, a stark contrast to what was obtainable back in their days. He went on to say that leadership wasn’t acceded to him simply because he was 25, but rather because he had proven beyond every perceivable doubt that he had capacity and was competent! This was evident in the tasks and assignments he had successfully carried out prior to his eventual appointment as Military Governor.

Without a doubt, there exists in many spaces, spheres and quarters, scores of young Nigerians with proven track records of competence who are themselves quite resourceful, yet, It is disconcerting and quite worrisome to the observant and discerning, the brazen disregard for due process, the pervasive state of lawlessness and an absolute lack of dignity and respect for principle and order which have come to typify life and living in Nigeria. More worrisome is the extent to which these aberrations have made a mincemeat of the integrity and purity of the mind and character of many Nigerian youths. Methinks that the spate of abuse and depravity speedily polluting the credibility and competence of our generation, should be a strong cause for concern and immediate remedial action for those who want better for our Nation and her youths.

To begin with, how does one begin to reconcile the wanton display of rapacious greed, infamy and chaotic disorder which has now become the hallmark of youth leadership in Nigeria today? Isn’t it truly shameful, for instance, that the apex body of youth organization in Nigeria, the National Youth Council of Nigeria, (NYCN), recognized by National Youth Policy as the umbrella body of youth organizations in Nigeria is currently embroiled in a leadership crisis, owing in part to the utter lawlessness and a brazen disregard for due process being exhibited by a number of dissenting elements within their ranks? How does one juxtapose this with the deafening clamour for youth inclusion in political leadership and policymaking processes?

To make matters worse, many political parties formed and dominated by young people in Nigeria today are also encumbered on all sides by crisis and internal wrangling due to violations of laws and the selfish and pecuniary tendencies of certain fifth columnnists within their hierarchy, Out of the turmultous board rooms and conference halls and on to the streets, the embarrassment has taken on many fronts as what ought to have been peaceful protests and civil demonstrations by young people have been barred and prevented by security agencies. Why? Because those who purport to call themselves future leaders have simply failed to abide by the laws of the land and have chosen the highway.

Desperation has become the new school and many Nigerian youths have chosen to find subversive means to circumvent the system, cut corners and disregard the rules, all in a frenzied bid to achieve their aims. To them, due process is crude process and they simply cannot see how it is that they should live their lives by any given set of rules. For many young Nigerians today, due process means slow process and a complete waste of time, and so for a chance to ride the latest Benz and be hailed as the freshest young Billionaires in town, many will take to clandestine and nefarious activities, in order to achieve overnight what should ordinarily take yeasrs to build. Many want to become Senators, Governor and President but very few are willing to commit earnestly and intently to positive participation in political processes. Few have the mind to build themselves up, forge well grounded and formidable political alliances, join and or build strong political base, get involved in partisan politics and build and earn the trust and confidence of a strong support base. For many, it is a rocket shot from regular street guy to Mr Governor or President! *How laughable!* As if that were possible even in the context of Student union politics!

Today, more than any other instruments, ethno-religious sentiments and to a comparatively lesser, yet equally virulent degree, political sentiments have become weaponized in a fetish urge to perpetuate lawlessness in Nigeria. Sadly, this trend is being bought mindlessly by mediocres and gullible people. Sadder still, there is a sense in which the ferocity of the misfits appears to be beating down heavily on the benignity of the intellectual. If this ticking time bomb will not blow up in our faces, then it is imperative that those who know better, speak up and speak out now so that we may find a panacea for the trouble that bedevils us all.

Now, more than ever, it is incumbent on us to realise that the orientation and attitude of “taking it by force or by any means” can and will not work in our collective best interest, whether in the interim or in the long run. As young people, we must become more organized, cooperative and collaborative in our bid to prove to the general public that we can provide credible leadership, if and when we are given the chance. If we will rise above the unsavoury perceptions and belief the rest of the society has come to label us by, we must immediately call ourselves to order, set aside vested and clammish sentiments, make adequate planning and cooperate for the advancement of our nation and generation. The social media is without doubt, the most potent tool we have for shaping thoughts and perspectives and if care is not taken, it could quickly become the weapon that puts a death knell on our singular and collective aspirations to rise above our limitations and aspire for greatness. We must desist from misusing the social media for propagating negativity and subversive narratives about ourselves and our Nation, lest we exacerbare rather than ameliorate the challenges confronting us. More than anything else, we must become the most proactive agents for actualzing growth and progress for ourselves, our Nation and thus be an exemple for the coming generation.

*Our generation must be different*.

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