Nigerian youths and the challenge of leadership

In recent times, the call for youths to assume leadership positions seems to be getting louder in the country. This is because of the way and manner that governance has been run by people in their late ages and hence, it is widely believed that when younger persons are made to take up leadership responsibilities, things are bound to change for the better. Towards this direction, leaders of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Ogun State Axis, have called on youths to be fully ready to take up leadership responsibilities in Nigeria. They made this disclosure while featuring on the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State radio station, FUNAAB Radio 89.5FM live interactive programme, Boiling Point.

Comrade Damilola Kehinde, Chairman, NANS, Ogun Axis; said one of the reasons why the association is different from other pressure groups was that they see themselves as leaders of tomorrow and partners in progress, describing NANS as a template for future leadership positions. According to him, “When we say, NANS, Ogun Axis, this is the unit of NANS that looks into the welfare of Nigerian students in the Gateway State”. In the same vein, the Public Relations Officer of the group, Comrade Olufemi Owoeye, said the relevance of the association cannot be over-emphasised, assuring that the student leaders would continue to intervene in some of the challenges facing Nigerian students. “Education should be a tool for total mind engineering and it is imperative to achieve mind engineering by going back to the basics, as union leaders”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Southwest Coordinator of NANS, Zone D, Comrade Olatunji Adegboye, said the association’s priority was the welfare of students across the region, as well as ensuring peace and tranquility on all campuses. He added that if the youths truly want change, they needed to come out, participate in leadership positions and bring up their ideas for all to see, saying this would have positive effects on the country. Similarly, the Deputy Dean of Student Affairs of FUNAAB has identified the role played by the students’ union for the development and advancement of students and the university at large and the union has been doing very well in that regard. “The relationship here has been cordial, but youths, being who as they are, would always want more and more, but as long as their requests are reasonable and in accordance with the University rules and regulations”, he said.

The President of the Students’ Union of FUNAAB, Comrade Oluwaseyi Ale, said the union would continue to represent and protect the interest and welfare of students. He advised students to always obey rules and regulations of the institution and respect the fundamental rights of each other. According to him, “I don’t think you will be a good President if everybody likes you. We want to make things work and in the process, we will step on people’s toes. I want people to know what I’m doing and not me as a person”. In the same vein, the unions’ Vice-President, Comrade Victoria Emmanuel, said their administration was based on welfarism for the students. “Leadership is not something about competition, but about your capabilities and what you can do as a person”, she added.

Still on what needs to be put in place to breed responsive and responsible students for the country, discussants have called for the re-introduction of disciplinary measures in schools curricula to curb acts of indiscipline among Nigerian students. They made the case in commemoration of this year’s World Students’ Day themed, “Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace”. According to Dr. Ayedun Isaiah Segun, a Lecturer at the Protestant University of West Africa Port Novo, Benin Republic, the government should be blamed in some areas, saying if the learning environment was not conducive, there would be problems. “Until teachers are well taken care of and the environment is conducive that is when we can have a better educational system”, he said. He called for extracurricular activities in schools to properly engage students. Also, the Commander, National School Crime Prevention Corps, Commandant Folayinka Ige, said parents should stop blaming the government for acts of indiscipline, adding that it was a collective responsibility to maintain discipline.

The guest said it was the right time for parents to move closer to school authorities in order to discuss the way forward. “Around school premises, people are selling what they are not supposed to sell and they use the opportunity to lure those students into engaging in social vices”, he said. Commandant Ige equally urged the government and relevant stakeholders to move out of their ‘political swimming pools’ and rise up to save the security architecture of schools from imminent collapse. From the key-points raised above, what should be taken in the right perspectives for Nigerian youths to properly take up the task of leadership are strong determination, the enabling environment in terms of favourable policies, and the review of schools curricula to bring out the best in our youths in the overall interest of the nation.