Indolent Youths



Back in 1992 when this reporter was doing his youth service in an Igala community in Kogi State, an incident rocked him on his young heels. On market days, young and old men gathered at long tables placed in the centre of the market and swilled the local beer between chats, while the women folk dutifully conducted the actual trade activities all day long.

Also during a visit to Sierra Leone in 2008, the first thing this reporter noticed on the streets of Freetown were scores of youths idling on street corners wearing sullen looks. A local contact person later explained that the youths were jobless, uneducated and angry at their condition. That memory also stuck.

Recently, the President came under the cosh for disparaging Nigerian youths at a recent international forum outside the country. However, when his comment is placed alongside a UNESCO 2017 report that stated that 63 million youths are illiterates in Nigeria, and an ex-minister who said many Nigerian graduates were unemployable, PMB’s comment on some lazy youths may not be too far-fetched, although millions of young Nigerians are more hardworking than their elders.

The common factor in the three instances above is the youth in different settings, at different times, with different challenges. Nigeria is blessed with abundant youth labour, both skilled and unskilled, and their effective utilisation can only attract favourable democratic dividends for this country.

Everyone has a skill or the other, even those who drink all day long; the trick is for each youth to find what he or she likes and turn such skill into a service to willing consumers. Since white collar jobs are scarce and blue collar positions are shrinking, the services sectors can help create employment for those youths variously described as lazy…simple logic.

– Abimbola Akosile