Getting the best from our youths

Over the years, Nigerian youths have always been at the receiving end in terms of the blame game that they throw at them when national discourse is concerned. Examination malpractice, drug abuse, rape, restiveness, armed robbery, and fraud are the common offences our youths are accused of partaking in. In the last few days, some of these allegations against the youth came up for discussion. For instance, in a bid to tackle examination malpractice in the Nigerian educational system, stakeholders have been called upon to work together to either reduce or permanently get rid of the menace.

The call was made at a workshop, organised by the Centre for Peace Promotion in Educational Institution (CEPRO) alongside the Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. Speaking at the event, Prof. Olufemi Onifade of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) has identified important education stakeholders to include examination bodies, parents, teachers, students, government, non-governmental organisations, and religious and traditional leaders. He stated, “I want to urge them to be alive to their responsibilities and work together as a team to end the menace of examination malpractice”.

In his presentation, Prof. Ademola Osipitan, also of FUNAAB, described examination malpractice as a war that must be fought by everyone. He called on the government to establish a special commission to fight examination malpractice and misconduct in schools. Prof. Osipitan argued that examination malpractice was more damaging than corruption in economic terms. Earlier, the State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, represented by the Director of Education Support Service in the ministry, Mrs. J. A. Onayiga, said finding a solution to examination malpractice is key to development, stating that remedies identified would be effectively worked on by the state government.

At another forum, discussants on FUNAAB 89.5FM live interactive programme, Boiling Point, have charged the government and stakeholders in Nigeria to help engage and guide the youth profitably in order to reduce the unemployment rate in the country. According to Dr. Adefunke Ayinde of the Department of Agricultural Administration, College of Agricultural Management and Rural Development (COLAMRUD) of FUNAAB, Nigeria is a country where most able-bodied people are unemployed. Dr. Ayinde argued that Nigeria had a booming economy in the 1960s because the governments often give enough attention to agriculture.

The Don lamented that over-dependence on oil had turned the country into a mono-economy thereby causing economic stagnation. She added that as a nation, “We have lost selflessness, core value and if we do not take into cognisance, we might also not get it right”. On his part, Prof. Onyekwere Nwaorgu of the Department of Communication and General Studies (COLAMRUD) had said there are many cases of under-employment and unemployment in the country. Prof. Nwaorgu added that the limited contributions from agriculture had been hindered by the farmer-herder clashes that the country was currently experiencing, making the farming economy critically disrupted and stressed the need for the government at all levels to have the political will to take agriculture to the next level.

According to him, “We cannot say because something has overwhelmed us. We should now sit down; we should continue to make efforts towards getting the best result”. The Professor also called for an increase in the level of literacy among Nigerians, maintaining that “We need to improve education through literacy and skills acquisition”. To add to the debate, Nigerians have been charged to take up the responsibility of empowering the youths to enable them to contribute their quota to nation building. Still on another edition of the programme where every adult has been tasked to take it as a responsibility to help the youths achieve their quest for a better country.

This time around, a former President, FUNAAB Student Union (FUNAABSU) and a public affairs analyst, Mr. Abdulkareem Bamigbade, stressed that members of the society needed to first build the youths before they can be made to contribute to nation building. He said individual members of society have a role to play rather than leave everything in the hands of the government to do. The union leader added that Nigerians should concentrate and do more to make the country better by changing their orientation positively, noting that “A young man that was not trained on how to think critically will not add value to the society that he belongs to”.

Meanwhile, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, McPherson University, Ajebo, Ogun State, Mr. Irebami Soyinka, while contributing to the discourse said, “For us to get things done, we need to go back to the foundation, which is the constitution”. Mr. Soyinka argued that the 1999 constitution should be amended to suit the commonality of everybody, stressing that Nigerian youths needed to acquire the required skills during their sojourn in life through tertiary education. In the final analysis, what we need to do to get the best from our youths requires providing them employment opportunities, mentorship, and more importantly, the collective responsibility on the part of all stakeholders to wake up and do the needful.

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