Reformation Of Youth Through Self-Reliance, By Babangida Ruma
NEWS DIGEST – Youth’ denotes an interface between ‘childhood’ and ‘adulthood’. Youth, as a social group are defined in terms of age. Hence, the majority of youth has been variously defined as ranging from the ages of 10-11 years to 35 years.
Furthermore, anyone who is acknowledged by deed as identifying with and committed to youth development may be recognised as youth. It has been recognised the world over that youth constitute the most important human resource potential that can contribute significantly to the overall development of a nation. The youth constitute the driving force of society, the spirit of today and the hope for the future. In addition, youth constitute the largest segment of the society, they are also the most socially active and productive sector.
Unemployment has social as well as economic consequences for young people. Unemployed young people are forced to find alternatives to generate income, including activities in the survival-type informal sector and, in extreme cases, criminal activities.
Urban unemployment is further exacerbated by rural-urban migration. Rural migrants believe that more jobs and social opportunities are available in urban areas, but once in the cities they find themselves without a job and with limited social networks. Trapped and discouraged by bleak job prospects, some turn to the sex, criminality and drug industries to survive.
Youth joblessness also implies missed opportunities in the human resources to produce goods and services. In addition, smaller tax revenues result from a smaller tax base for income tax and indirect taxes such as the value added tax. A further implication is related to security. An increase of one percentage point in the ratio of people ages 15-29 to people ages 30-54 increases the likelihood of conflict such as civil unrest or war by 7 per cent.
Higher crime rates also have a direct economic cost in terms of loss of foreign direct investment. The youth now lack the capacity to access health services, lack leadership skill and management skills, and are prone to poverty because they are unable to engage in meaningful and gainful employment. Many of them have also resorted to corrupt tendencies in order to quickly go up the ladder of success. To them, the meager sums that they earn are a justification for this form of behavior, which is a vice that our youth needs to get rid up. The youth have also lost faith in the capacity of their country to offer them the necessary protection against exploitative employers.
The concept of self-reliance is located centrally within the discourse of community development and is connected to related concepts like self-help, independence, mutual-help, indigenous participation and rural development. It advocates the need for people to improve their condition using local initiatives and resources in their own hands.
The concept is fast being accepted as a new formula for community development because of its widespread acceptance in the development planning of most African countries. For example, I recently launched a project to compliment the effort of government in its employment generation drive through technology based entrepreneurship development training. I provide a free Entrepreneurship and leadership development capacity building training for young entrepreneurs, The comprehensive training is a practical and technology based curriculum that has proven to be both effective and impactful all over the world targeted at Start-ups, existing and aspiring entrepreneurs,/techpreneurs, University graduates, undergraduates, students in technical and vocational institutions, To help entrepreneurs achieve their objectives, which are to generate business ideas for those who are not in business, to equip individuals with the digital skills they need to compete and succeed in the modern economy. The project is supported by international and local competitive certifications leveraging on extensive stakeholders collaboration comprising Hewlett-Packard HP/United Nation Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) development partners and the public and private sectors.
The concept of self-reliance has the tendency to give greater stimulus and cohesiveness to community development in these countries, According Fonchingong and Fonjong, Self-reliance is situated within the discourse of community development and is connected to related concepts like self-help, mutual help, indigenous participation and rural development. It champions the need for people to better their lots using local strategies and resources at their disposal. The definition assumes that youth use the resources at their disposal to proffer solutions to the challenges peculiar to their group and confronting them persistently. They also want to realize their dreams and be at the fore front of developing the communities.
In most African countries, community development has depended significantly on voluntary cooperative efforts. This follows a traditional trait that clearly underscores the virtue of self-reliance. This explains the emerging trend in community development, which sees it as an important point of take-off for better living. The emphasis is to involve groups of people in planned programmes from which they may gain skills that will enable them to cope more successfully with the problems of their everyday lives. Self-reliance is thus “development on the basis of a country’s (region’s) own resources, involving its populations based on the potentials of its cultural values and traditions”. Communities and individual people define their own development according to their own needs, values and aspirations.
Recommendations & Conclusion
Finally based in the observations, it is recommended that youth entrepreneurship programmes should be made compulsory right from the secondary school. More so, curricula in the higher institutions should be redesigned to capture the current reality of producing job creators and not job seekers. There should also be institutional support for youth entrepreneurship programmes at all tiers of government; local, state, and federal. Cheap funds made available and accessible to interested young entrepreneurs is a necessity for the development of self-reliant programmes among youth.
Data on youth unemployment are not accessible, if they are available. Many of the policy makers are not equipped with facts and figures. Many a times, they rely on sources that are not reliable in formulating policies and taking decisions relating to youth empowerment. Government institutions should equip to collate data frequently and make them accessible at any point in time. If there are authentic data, planning and paying social security of not less than fifty thousand naira 50 should not be difficult considering the amount of financial resources being wasted public office holders.
The prevailing harsh economic environment in Nigeria is a disincentive to any interested young entrepreneurs and so should be made conducive as much as possible. For example multiple taxation should be eliminated through the harmonization of tax system in the country. Infrastructure facilities are abysmal failure, especially the electricity around which modern industrialization and developmental strategy revolve. More than enough megawatts of electricity should be generated in the country. The appalling situation of electricity generation has turned many youth to criminals in Nigeria.
Motivating youth to acquire technical skills should top the priority of any government, Nigeria not exempted. Apart from free tuition, graduates of technical colleges should be absolved into the government service and or private organisations. Able and willing youth should be encouraged to contribute their quota to national economic development efforts. Security of lives and properties must be guaranteed in Nigeria. Governments’ efforts to woo foreign investors that will help to ignite the fire of economic revival will not yield any fruits if the issue of security is not addressed.
There should be an increased youth and orphans self-reliance, self-discipline, social responsibility and spirit of adventure. Youth should be helped start income generating activities for their livelihoods to reduce dependency syndrome. Involvement of religious organisations in youth self reliance programmes should be encouraged. This is imperative in view of the fact that many of them have excess funds they can use since they do not pay tax. This will be counted as part of their social responsibility efforts to the society.
Improve young people’s access to training that is clearly related to employment outcomes; help young people evaluate the economic returns on degree and certificate programs; ensure appropriate support systems to help young people complete their programs.
Support new, youth-friendly technology platforms, such as mobile phones and texting, for the delivery of information and services to youth.
There is no doubt that Nigeria is blessed with abundant human and natural resources. The challenges facing the youth and related issues are very critical because of the emerging trend of youth unemployment, political and religious unrest. Hence, youth self-reliant programmes should occupy the front burner of the federal, state, and local governments. Nigeria, arguably the most populous black nation in the world, needs sincere analysis of the current unemployment situation in the country as well as other challenges confronting the youth.
The scientific analysis of this menace will lead to honest policy formulation, implementation, and monitoring of youth self-reliant programmes which will eventually stem the tide of youth crimes and guarantee the future of the country.
Babangida Ruma, is Youth and leardership development expart who contributed to informed youth policy dialogues in the african region.