It is still alive and kicking in the records of Nigeria history that during his 1982 visit to Nigeria, Pope John Paul II praised youth in these remarkable words, “Youth is the age of hope, of promise, of enthusiasm, of plans and of ideals. Youth does not want to give up in the face of difficulties. Youth does not want to put up with the shortcomings of the status quo. Youth believes in a better world and is determined to help bring it about.” The very last statement of the supreme pontiff reveals the good will of the youth and their unflinching readiness to make the society better.
Sadly enough, reading through the maze of prints on the life style of the young generations, one is brought up short be society’s general belief that the youth of today are sorely to blame for their extremes of behaviour. We tend to forget that when we raise a live and cry against Juvenile delinquency, that its roots adult delinquency. We cannot objectively understand our youths if we do not first measure the gap between our society’s collective behaviour and the noble ideals we set for our youths. In case we do not know, the two have been as wide apart as it is impossible for a bad tree to bear good fruits.
One thing interestingly significant about personality growth is its passage from one stage of human development to another, during which one knows things not known before. No wonder John lock would say that human being at birth is a tabula raza (a white board). Meanwhile, influences such as the family, the society, the teachers, the preachers, politics, science and western civilization are known to dictate the personality of the exposed and vulnerable young person. By implication, if these factors fail to give adequate guidance as they generally do today, the youth swim blind and turn rebels against society as a whole.
Today, while living in a more complex and diversified society than in the “good old days,” the youth see, hear, read, and digest a great deal about social injustice, ethnicity, double standards, divorce, sexual promiscuity, bribery and corruption and indiscipline. They too suffer deprivation, unemployment and neglect. Sometimes, they tend to think that all these ills are inevitable for survival in society. Unfortunately, they simply slip into the ready-made order without any self-examination and take a giant leap before ever they took.
Indications emerge that the Nigerian situation is not hopeful, for the adult generation have not set too good example to emulate. Their record breaking rate of mental infidelity, divorce, worship of money and gross indiscipline has been a clog wheel in the nation’s progress and mutilating the minds of innocent youths.
So many children are brought up without the father image. The resultant effect that it does not make for a balance in their emotional development. Worse still, some parents have even turned “Sugar Daddies”, engaging in extra-marital relations with youths of the same age as their own sons and daughters. The scandal has been disgusting.
Politically, our 57 years of independence has been synonymous with self-seeking and political immaturity. Our highly reputed leaders of opinion, mostly designated as “Chiefs” with additional religions titles like “Alhaji” and “Papal Knight”, have sacrificed patriotism and national progress on the altar of egocentricism.
Even the mass media, movies, and some internet facilitators have under cover of “fun” been misleading our youths with uncensored entertainments that glorify violence, discourage hard work and promote sexual promiscuity, thereby rooting crimes in the minds of the young. We can now see that Nigerian youths can only be a reflection of our society’s apparent lack of purpose. This is the seemingly representation of the proverbial biblical saying, “The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are stet on edge.” (Jer. 31:39).
The present situation calls for a social reform which will give a positive lead to Nigerian youths rather than scandalize them. Nigeria must reform itself for its youths to be reformed. All the Nigerians of good will must join hands to evolve a totally new Nigerian personality. Let our adult generation endeavor to bring back to Nigeria virtues which make for a pragmatic nation. Social justice, family stability, unrepentant meritocracy, discipline and patriotism, these must form the visible substructures of our social life.
Our education must aim at equal opportunity for all our youths. Let us give up priority to authentic education in our schools rather than forget it as seems to be the tendency of the present order. “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Says the bible (Prov. 22:6)
Youths on their part have to show good examples of what society should look like. First and foremost, they must be obedient to the laws of the land. Youth bodies should organize seminars to discuss possible ways of re-orienting the nations ethnically. They should also come out and demonstrate against bad government policies and social ills without being destructive.
Finally, let all Nigerians set efforts on top gear for a more conducive ethical atmosphere in which our youths can grow up as good citizens. Above all, all reader of this article should not claim to be the distorted youth, instead, the responsible adult willing to influence the society from a positive light.