Youths, Decision-Making and Insecurity
By Mahmud Abdulsalam
Sometime in November 2019, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, said that Nigeria was blessed with an energetic and resourceful youth population that could partner global technology giants to excel in any field.
He spoke in Abuja when he received a group of Chinese technology entrepreneurs at the Presidential Villa.
The delegation was led by the co-founder of AliBaba Group, Mr Jack Ma, on a visit as part of the Nigerian Government’s move to promote technological innovation among youths in the country.
Osinbajo stated, “Nigeria represents an incredible opportunity and potential, and we had spoken a few minutes ago about how Nigeria will, in another two decades or so, become the third largest in terms of population in the entire world.
“The largest segment of that population are young people, under 25, who will be over 60 per cent of that population.
“This is exciting time for us and we are really happy that you are here and I know the young people and lots of businesses and entrepreneurs are looking forward to your interaction with them later today.
“I think you will find very energetic, very creative group of young men and women and older men and women who are increasingly interested in entrepreneurship, especially digital entrepreneurship.
“So, the potential is tremendous, it is an incredible potential that we have. So, we are at a point, and your coming is very strategic, in our trajectory and in the progress of our country.
“I think, it is a very important moment and what we are seeing – a lot of entrepreneurship, a lot of young people who are very actively engaged in the digital economy at various levels.”
Ma, during the occasion, spoke well of Nigerian youths, admitting that he admired their resourcefulness.
“Nigeria is a great country with a large population, very strong economy, excellent young people with excellent innovations. And this is a country I have looked forward to visiting a lot and I think our team today realised our dreams meeting you, the ministers,” he had, then, Osinbajo.
However, it is the same youths (though, not exactly like the ones earlier mentioned by Mr. Vice President and Ma) that have become willing tools for perpetrating criminal activities.
It is the same Nigerian youths (but of varying moral aptitudes) who have become cannon fodder for orchestrating violence, acts of barbarity and wanton carnage.
The general insecurity in the land is as result of the terror some abled-bodied youths have been visiting on the nation.
There are several issues that must be addressed for youths to shun crimes and other violent acts that have made peace and security elusive.
There have always been a massive advocacy for the provision of jobs to idle youths, quality education, and good governance as panacea for underdevelopment, illiteracy and poverty–fuelers of insecurity.
But what the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Leo Irabor, believes is the practical solution to pervasive insecurity is youths involvement in decision-making.
According to him, a reduction in the involvement of youths and their alienation in decision-making is a recipe for increase in criminality, anarchy and political instability.
He also expressed fears that such a scenario could lead to the destruction of critical infrastructure, loss of livelihoods and retardation of the economy and threats to national security.
Irabor stated this in Abuja during a two-day youth and security summit with the theme, ‘Building trust for an improved security response in Nigeria’, organised by the Abuja Global Shapers, a non-governmental organisation.
The Curator, Abuja Global Shapers, Umar Abdulmalik, said the initiative would bridge the gap between the youth and security agencies to restore peace in communities.
The CDS insisted that there must be substantial investments in job opportunities, access to education and good healthcare for Nigerian youths to enable them thrive and contribute positively to society.
According to him, there is a strong correlation between youth engagement and national security, adding that a meaningful interaction and involvement of a youth populace in governance and administration was likely to facilitate a peaceful and conducive environment for economic growth and development.
Irabor stated, “Youth engagement is essentially making the youth part and parcel of the fabric of the stability and safety of society towards enhancing national security.
“The converse also holds true; a decrease in the level of youth interaction and alienation in the decision-making processes and developmental activities will result in increase in violent crimes, anarchy, political instability leading to destruction of critical infrastructure, loss of livelihoods and by extension, retardation in the economy and impinged national security.”
The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the nation would soon overcome the challenges of terrorism, banditry and kidnapping, among others, which had given many causes for concern.
While insisting that the country was not exempted from evolving security issues globally, the minister noted that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was working assiduously to end the current spate of insecurity in Nigeria.
Speaking on the theme of the summit, Aregbesola said the topic would elicit proactive discussions that would proffer an integrative approach towards building trust for an improved security response in the country.
Mahmud Abdulsalam is an Assistant Editor PRNigeria
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