The Role Of  Nigerian Youth In Nation Building By Alabede Surajdeen

The term nationalisation refers to a process whereby private assets are being transferred into public ownership by a national government with the sole aim of achieving economic stability, productivity and efficiency. As we all know that it is the responsibility of all citizens to promote nationalisation. Thus, the participation and involvement of youth in nationalisation is mandatory. In fact, youth play a vital role in nation building. Youth and nationalisation seems to be a nexus that cannot be separated if we want to achieve economic development.

Youth are the engine room of every nation. The similitude of the importance of youth to nation building could be likened to a car engine, without which, vehicles can’t move, so also without youth, a nation cannot thrive. The role of the youth in nation building is too relevant to be jettisoned – they serve as the back-bone of a society. They can make or mar a nation based on what is programmed in them. They are a feedback system because if they are well equipped and garnished with the best available resources, they give a positive outcome, but, if otherwise, negative outcome should be expected.

Nigerian youth are surely among the most talented and creative youths in the world. They are fast learners; they have the ability to work under pressure and bring out desired result for any organisation or institution. The role of Nigerian youth cannot be underestimated in nation building. Nigerian youths from time immemorial have been contributing their quota towards national development. The likes of Sir Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Herbert Macaulay fought tooth and nail in their youthful days to deliver the political independence we all enjoy today as a nation.

It is only an insane man that will say Nigerian youths are not productive because there is practically no aspect of nature, physical or anthropological, material or human, complex diversity or undefined homogeneity, regional, international, academic or sport, Nigeria cannot boast of, even in religion or ethnicity. Name any field of learning you would not see a Nigerian youth renowned locally or internationally. Mention any aspect of living, good or bad, a Nigerian youth will not be actively and not passively recognised. There is nowhere in the world one would not see a Nigerian youth with the buzzing I-can-do spirit; In fact they drive the wheel of several countries in the world.

In the same vein, it is paramount to state that most of the monuments we celebrate in this nation today were put in place by the then military regime led by young productive minds and they still remain ever green in our hearts. The present day youth are still trying their best in making sure that the effort of their heroes past is not in vain.

It is important to state clearly that the civic role of every Nigerian youth in promoting nationalisation should dwell on these five concepts; patriotism, reading culture, critical reasoning, skill acquisition and policy making.

Foremost, patriotism is the first trait lacking in Nigerian youths. For any nation to move forward, the people and most especially the youth must love their country unconditionally. Love makes the world go round, it cherishes, it adores, and it brings about all the good things of life. All the evil that befall this country, like corruption, terrorism, ethno religious crisis are as a result of lack of patriotism. If we truly love this nation, we will do anything to protect her interest and we will have in mind that Nigeria is bigger than any individual or institution. Patriotism should reflect in our everyday life as Nigerian youth. If we are patriotic, we won’t give room for corruption and we will not loot the country’s treasury if we are opportune to occupy any political office.

It is when youth love their country with passion that they will want to live there and helping it in all ramifications to meet world standard and this will help to maintain a balance between Nigerian population and resources. That is, resources will be shared based on equity and not equality. Patriotism will build sense of belonging in every Nigerian youth, it will make them more emotionally concerned about their country and it makes them use their strength, intelligence and skill in the development of such nation. Nationalisation would be promoted if the youths are ready to bear the hardships and sufferings being witnessed in their country because it brings about willingness to forgo some of their personal interest for public interest and temporal gains for future ones.

More so, every Nigerian youth should know that there is no alternative to reading. The popular maxim good for illustration is “a reading nation is a leading nation”. It is quite disheartening that most Nigerian youth are lazy when it comes to reading and the few ones that read are reading for pleasure sake. It is when we wake the reading spirit in us that we will be self acquainted with the country’s history and we will not be able to repeat the mistakes of the past. It is only when we turn to a  reader that we will know what it takes to be a citizen of a country, the civic responsibility, our roles as a youth and the government roles in nation building. It is through reading that we can contribute to national issues and bring about world changing ideas.

Youth that read are always abreast of latest information, they will be able to tackle any challenges and they will be fully groomed to depend on their own.  It is also very important to state clear that one should try to sieve what to read as a youth because the type of books you read influence who you are, that is why late Chief Obafemi Awolowo made it known that “he who reads books especially the good ones will suffer intellectual mal-nutrition and attrition“. Parents should take it as a challenge in making sure that their wards learn new things before going to bed. We can only be the partners of today and leaders of tomorrow if we devour good books and become hungry for knowing more in making a difference in our society.

Furthermore, critical reasoning is the only tool that can be used by Nigerian youths in bringing about innovation and invention. As we all know that innovation refers to a new idea and the creation of such ideas brings about invention. John F. Kennedy was of the notion that we should always “think not of what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country”. Youths around the world are coming up with new ideas based on the ability to think in a critical manner and come up with something that can benefit the whole world.

A good example of such a youth is Mark Zuckerberg and his friend Eduardo Saverin, when they invented a social networking service called ‘Facebook’ which was launched in February 2014, when they were between the ages of nineteen and twenty. The world will forever remember this young computer programmers and internet entrepreneurs for their world changing innovation. I have no doubt in my mind that there are many Nigerian youths that can come up with quintessential innovations better than the ones the world have witnessed, which will bring about positive change to Nigeria, but, we should not forget that it is when we read that we will be able to think, critical thinking brings about good ideas and good ideas helps a country to thrive.

In continuation, it is apparent that unemployment is one of the major problems bedevilling this nation. Nigerian youths should start to depend less on government and start to acquire skills that will help put food on their table rather than waiting for white collar jobs. Skill acquisition and entrepreneurship such as sewing of clothes, weaving of hair, bead making, bag and shoe making et cetera will help in the growth and development of Nigeria because less stress will be on the government in providing employment opportunities. As youths, we should not wait for large capital before starting a business, we can start with the little we have, from where we are and move to a greater height of becoming a business mogul of our dream. Creativity is all that is needed to package our product and make it the best among its pears. We should start to be creative as a youth and look at things in different dimensions so as to bring out the best in them. If we can be smart, agile and intelligent youth, unemployment will be a thing of past in our dear country. Doing all this will not make us think otherwise and we won’t be idle because it is only a busy man that has a few idle visitors, to the boiling pot the flies comes not.

As if that is not enough, youth should also be engaged in policy making to make Nigeria a country to reckon with and become one of the super powers of the world. It is only when youth are giving the opportunity to participate in decision making process that we will have a better policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. The youth are also obligated to contribute their quota, views and ideas irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, religion and background. The sole reason they must be carried along is because they are the leaders of tomorrow and the supporters of today. It is only the youths that know what they want; how they want it and what they are going through, but if they are not part of the policy making team, how do we know what they are going through, their pains and the best way to tackle their problems.

As we all know that Nigerian youths are full of vibrant ideas, when adequately guided and properly motivated, they will channel every good thing they have upstairs in formulating good policy. Nigerian youths should erase the feeling that only the leaders and the elderly ones can formulate good policy. If they take it as a challenge and work hand in hand with the government, they will surely come up with critical ideas that can be implemented even if not now but later in the future. If they are able to do this their names will be written in the book of life and generations unborn will continue to say good things about them.

If I have the chance to vote over and over again I will always choose Buhari to Jonathan, the journey may still be rough though, but I strongly believe the destination is smooth. We are glad that the change we have all been clamouring for is here at last, but this change will not be a positive one if the youths are not being catered for and carried along in developmental policies.Youths have the patience to learn from mistakes and the ability to try out new things if they are given the chance. It is no gain saying that if the government fails to put the strength, intelligence and resources of Nigerian youths into efficient and effective use economic prosperity cannot be achieved. In similar vein, Nigerian youths should also know that it is their responsibility to be a good ambassador of this great nation anywhere they found themselves and they should always contribute their quota in making sure that Nigeria becomes a home to all and sundry and a country to reckon with.


Alabede Surajdeen is an environmentalist, writer and speaker. He wrote this piece to celebrate Ogun State @40. He can be reached on:

Twitter: @babssuraj

Gmail: alabedekayode@gmqil.com

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1 Comment

  1. “If I have the chance to vote over and over again I will always choose Buhari to Jonathan, the journey may still be rough though, but I strongly believe the destination is smooth”

    hahaha, what would you say now?

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