August 12th is a special day for young people all over the world. International Youth Day is a day set aside to celebrate young people and to highlight their contributions to social development, especially to conflict prevention and transformation. It is also a day to reflect on youth related issues such as youth inclusion, social justice, sustainable peace, and above all, youth empowerment and possible solution to unemployment.
The theme of this year’s IYD is ‘Youth building peace’. Young people remains the essential actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. This is in line with Goal 16 of the sustainable development goal which is to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” This goal cannot be achieved without the youths! Youth inclusion in peace keeping is therefore the best way to build a peaceful society.
Youths are important and indispensible segment of the society. The world cannot do without them. At the 2013 World Youth Day the Holy Father, Pope Francis, describes the youths as agents of evangelization. “The Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of you.” Indeed, the youths have vital role to play not just in the area of evangelization but also in promotion of peace and development.
Youths are in fact the foundation of peace-keeping. Mahatma Gandhi insisted “If we are to reach real peace in this world… we shall have to begin with children.” Without the youths there will be no lasting peace. The youths are not just adult in the making they are also agents of conflicts and peace depending who employs them and what inspires them.
Nigeria happens to be among the countries that neglects its youths. This negligence has become so obvious that even the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, has finally admitted that the lack of development Nigeria is facing today is as a result of negligence of the youths. “We will not transform if we continue to ignore the youths.”
Unfortunately, this realization came a bit late because right now Nigerians are paying the prize for neglecting their youths.
Even the youths among the ruling party are not happy with the way the government neglects its youth. For instance, the National Youth Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo, lamented that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is failing to carry the Nigerian youth along in most of his appointments.
For instance, according to him, no youth made it as a minister in the cabinet of President Buhari. He then warned that the practice of “use and dump” of the youth after election should be discouraged. Most of the leaders and even civil servants in Nigeria are those who are old enough to retire, whereas the youths have no job.
The ongoing agitations in Nigeria are justified on the bases of unemployment and exclusion of youths in decision-making. The youths are simply fed up with the system. Most of them are ready to sacrifice their lives to ensure there is a radical change in the system of governance. While some are calling for restructuring of the system others are calling for referendum which will eventually lead to complete break-up.
Nigeria got itself in this mess because of it’s negligence, especially to the youths. Any nation that neglects the youths negates her peace and development. There has been attempts to set up committee to look into the possibility of restructuring the system. These move cannot succeed without the youths. The government should be humble and reasonable enough to carry their youths along, else the agitations will not just continue it may even lead to regrettable revolution.
Apart from the government, the Church is another powerful institution in most African countries. The government must have failed the youths but the Church should not fail. Unfortunately, most of the Churches in Nigeria have not just neglected the youths they are even using the youths as their instruments. Some so-called Men of God are using the youths to enrich themselves.
Gradually, some people have even started agitating against the Church leaders. Recently, a lady posted a video online demanding that the General overseer of one of the famous Churches in Nigeria should return the seed of faith her sister paid to the church because she is now facing financial challenges. This may sound funny but that is how it begins.
If we, men of God, delay in embarking on youth empowerment. If we don’t carry our youths along and if we continue to impoverish them in the name of seed sowing and tithing without touching their lives, very soon there will be a religious revolution in Nigeria!
Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie is the Founder & Director of
Orphanage of the Holy Spirit &
Int’l Youth Empowerment & Rehabilitation Centre (IYERC)
Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie, OCD
Email: [email protected]