Have you ever imagined living in a community with the drainage overflowing with dirty water, the electric cables convoluted and always sparking or the transformers blowing out, thereby affecting power supply for days or even weeks, or the streets decorated by streams of dirt, the canals filled with “pure water” plastic and pet bottles?
And all you can think of is “where is our government?”
Do you ever wonder about how those people in the slum feed clothe or even bath? Yes, bath! Have you ever gone to a local market to get food stuffs and see how some citizens are blinded to the political shams, or the lack of knowledge about getting things as simple as their PVC?
Well, one could say that for you to be traumatized with the few experiences above, you might be a little privileged with good resources. And while you might want to blame the government for the biggest and littlest of things, but the truth is that the government can’t and won’t do everything for the community. There is a need for every hand on deck.
This is why as youths, we have to take up our rein and make our communities better for living. How? We need to take ownership of our communities through humanitarian works by volunteering our time. Humanitarianism isn’t limited to just cleaning the streets or dishing out clothes and shoes to the less privilege as many believe, humanitarian acts go way beyond that.
Youths are obligated to make their immediate environment a better space for them and the generations to come. They are after all the future of tomorrow and the present hope of a nation.
There are many youth organizations with the mission to impact their societies positively, amongst which are the LEO Club under the Umbrella of LIONS Club, Junior Chamber International (JCI), United Nations Volunteers, Youths for Social Impacts (YSI) etc. While the first three organizations are internationally founded and have different branches in Nigeria, the latter Youths for Social Impact was founded recently in the year 2020 with the vision to enlighten citizens of their civic rights and obligations through strategic means.
Founded by few youths during the ENDSARS Protest in 2020 with the aim to be the bridge between the people (especially the youths) and the government to influence decisions for the better living of the citizens, YSI have sensitized many traders and buyers in many large markets in Ibadan for example on their civil rights and obligations. They achieved this by getting the attention of traders through intense market cleanups which have been independently sponsored by members of the organization.
Also the organization held a youth and security summit which featured over 200 youths excluding the high profile guest speakers in Ibadan in 2021 less than a year of her existence. The aim of initiatives like this is to help organize the youths and to make the community better especially for the youths, and with the understanding that every citizen have a role to play in their immediate community and the nation at large, YSI volunteered to collaborate with INEC, Oyo State to sensitize citizens on how to register and the need to register for Permanent Voters Card (PVC).
This reflects that while they sensitize people verbally on civil rights and obligations, the organization offers means to achieve aspects to perform on this. It is important to note here that the organization is independent of any political party and isn’t interested in influencing anybody to vote for any party. Rather, they believe that when proper orientation is given, the people would be led to make good decisions they feel is right for them while doing their national duties.
The aim isn’t to flag the organization as up doing, but rather to encourage youths to participate and make impacts in their society. No form of impact is too small or irrelevant. While YSI might believe in sensitization of the people on civil rights, LEO Club on the other hand is concerned with helping the needy and have been making many people regardless of their status joyful even to donation of blood.
With acts like this, one can be assured that if these youths are given leadership roles, proper needs of the people will be met. Gradually, the phase from bribery and corruption will reduce and humanity will truly matter. One can never take away the place of humanitarianism in nation building. One benefit youths will gain with the service of humanity is the ability to connect with people while helping them. Youths will be able to understand the sufferings, or lack of the people around them. Helping the needy is one essence of life, this will help youths grow better in leadership, for to lead is also to serve, and not just serve but to do so diligently.
However, a better society cannot be achieved just by humanitarian acts, after all, to help the needy and orient) people are secondary acts.
What really matter are ethical roles that can bring proper national growth, youths must thus be ready to abjure unethical and unhealthy practices. It is said that one cannot give what one does not have. If youths do not have ethical characters, there is a high probability that the nation will crumble. Conscious effort must be made by youths not to be curators of fraud, theft, cultism, corruption, bribery etc. It is often said that for he that would govern others should first be the master of himself. Instead of being used as political nuisances by political leaders for their greedy gains, youths should instead articulately stand up for better roles of leadership.
Youths should participate better in political spaces, set up structures and platforms that can influence government policies. Youths shouldn’t sideline themselves in governance, but instead learn at young age to participate in political process, adopt or unlearn policies that are either ethical or immoral in their respective order.
Youths should be intentional about building capacity. The pandemic of fast money is fast growing in our society today; many youths are losing faith in skill development and industry building for things like fraud. It would be pathetic and indeed shameful if youths cannot take up initiatives to make better their lives and societies. Thus, youths should encourage themselves to build ideas, learn skills, attend conferences and seminars, take courses on human interactions to build emotional intelligence.
Another role which is critical for nation building is for youths to be good ambassadors of their country both home and abroad. Just like Nnamdi Azikiwe said, many countries negotiate dealings by their observations of the youths in countries. Bad behaviour provides bad repute, and it is good to note that one bad can tarnish many good deeds. Youths should thus engage in activities that will promote state and world peace.
In conclusion, the involvement of youths in nation building is quite important. Youths are the problem solvers, the creative minds with vision and mission. Nevertheless, the youths need the help of the government and others with the support of the citizens.
Tosin Alabi, a corp member writes from Lagos