Youth as Change Agents
Society is driven by the need to attain constant development. Therefore, for every progress made, even from the historical standpoint, the youthful generation champions the cause. The need to encourage the youth to create positive change in the society is the central idea of this article, as well linking the relationship between unemployment and crime.
The definition of youth varies; the African Youth Charter defines the youth as people in the age range of 15 – 35 (AU 2006), while the UN/UNESCO/ILO’s age range for the youth is 15 – 24 years of age (UN statistics), and the Nigeria’s constitution own definition puts a youth as anyone between the ages of 18 – 35. The word youth and young people are synonymous will be used interchangeably in this article.
There are numerous challenges facing the youth in Nigeria, chief among them is unemployment. The statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics show a steady upward movement in the unemployment rate in Nigeria. High rates of unemployment can have a ripple effect on the fabric of society, and population and crime.
The youth play a decisive role in the progress of a nation, and the priority of a government is to invest in its youth. It is important to note that it is a constitutional duty of the government to provide public goods for its citizens which include the youth. Despite this, the youth have a role to play in the development of the country.
As the 2017 International Youth Day is being celebrated, it is vital to highlight how the youth can be change agents in their communities despite the statistical and societal dilemma they face.
To be change agents, the Nigerian youth must invest in themselves. Acquiring skills, attending trainings, active participation in governance, advocating for transparency and accountability are ways youths can be change agents. The belief in the capacity of the youth to change the world must be firm and unwavering, for this reason, investment should be prioritized.
Being a change agent is about immersing yourself in your immediate environment. Every youth should think locally because development must start from their backyard.
The youth must constantly seek to participate actively in nation-building activities. Effecting social change should be the objective, advocacy and participation should be the means to achieve this.
“Under your shoulders. Dear young people of the entire world, weigh the responsibility to transform tomorrow’s world into a society where peace, harmony and fraternity reign.” – Bishop Carlos Belo, Nobel Peace Prize for work “towards a just and peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor
The youth must seek to learn from the older generation. No generation has ever developed a country in isolation; it has always been through intergenerational cooperation and partnership.
“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created.” — Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders.
Young people should not be discouraged by the challenges in the society. They must see themselves as the generation to lead Nigeria out of its challenges. Their watchwords should be service, leadership and learning.
The youth are the future of Nigeria.